This entry is part of an online exhibit entitled: "Hava Nagila: From Idelsohn to Belafonte & Beyond," prepared by Eva Heinstein with help from the JMRC staff. To view the exhibit in its entirety click on the link above.
Idelsohn published a short article in The Musical Quarterly (MQ 18, no. 4, pp. 634-645 ) entitled, "Musical Characteristics of East-European Jewish Folk-song." In this article, he attempts to exhibit how the Eastern European Jewish folk song differs from that of its non-Jewish counterpart. Idelsohn offers several examples of melodically similar songs from different folk traditions in order to exemplify the ways in which the Jewish version is unique, and typical to the tradition. He concludes the article with a short discussion of "Palestinian" folk songs, specifically the case of Hava Nagila. Idelsohn notes the year of composition and premier performance of Hava Nagila, 1915 and 1918 respectively. He also describes the great popularity it enjoyed shortly after the premier: “It quickly spread throughout the country, and thence throughout the Jewish world.”