The history of ‘Pop’ is a history of music, migration and transcultural exchange. Following the invention of recording technologies and the worldwide production and distribution of records at the end of the 19th century, the new music industry created a new global culture. Jews were prominently involved in that process on all planes, from the creation of the Shellac record and the Gramophone by Emil Berliner, to the pioneers of the music industry and Tin Pan Alley. They were composers of musicals and popular songs and popularized ‘Jewish culture’ through cantorial music, Yiddish theatre or the invention of the iconic ‘Jewish humour’. All this was often the product of disturbing and painful experiences of migration, uprooting and newly ‘invented identities’.
Hanno Loewy, PhD, is a scholar of literature and film, an exhibition curator, and, since 2004, the Director of the Jewish Museum Hohenems, Austria. He is the author and editor of several books on film theory, Holocaust, Jewish history and popular culture.