Sephardic Songs: An Anthology
Most of the songs performed on La Rondinella's recording can be found in published sources, and many have been recorded by contemporary interpreters of Sephardic music. We have chosen to set some of the songs as instrumentals, though this is a vocal repertoire and there is no tradition of purely instrumental music in Sephardic culture. Liturgical and secular songs played an important role in the preservation of Ladino, and kept in memory historical events and people (biblical or royal) that otherwise might have been forgotten. It may become apparent, as you listen and peruse translations of these songs, that many of them express a woman's point of view. These love songs, lullabies, songs about holidays and important events, and narratives were preserved primarily by Sephardic women in lands throughout the Mediterranean. Women must have composed many of them as well. Most of the Sephardic songs on this recording come from Jewish communities established in the Ottoman Empire after 1492. Scholars continue to research and debate the origins of the tunes, searching for evidence that at least some of the tunes date from the fifteenth century. The texts of many of the romances certainly do, since the same texts or variants have been collected in widely separated areas, from the Americas to the eastern Mediterranean. Of course, many new songs- romances, love songs, and prayer songs-have been added to the repertoire.