In memory of Leiby Kletzky, the 9-year-old boy senselessly murdered in Brooklyn this week.
One of the marvels I enjoyed on my recent trip to Israel was the "Nisco Museum of Mechanical Music" at Ein Hod Artists' Village.
The proprietor, 75-year-old Nisan Cohen, had to rebuild his 45-year-old collection after last year's devastating Carmel fire.
What he has salvaged is worth a visit: with visible joy he plays for you (and will let you play) antique music boxes, hurdy gurdies, an automatic organ, a reproducing player piano, a collection of 100 year old manivelles, gramophones, hand operated automatic pianos and so on.
Imagine the delight of children (and adults) at these 100- (some 120 or more) year-old marvels.
There you can see not one but several original Edison phonographs. You may recall from pictures that Thomas Edison's phonograph did not play disk-records, but actually played cylinders.
The first disk-phonograph was built by Emile Berliner, a rabbi's son. His machine, the "gramophone", became the standard for recorded sound. (Berliner also invented the microphone among other things.) Berliner's vision didn't stop at mechanics — he conceived of an entire industry built around the production of musical phonographic disks. His company, Berliner Gramophone, is known today as RCA.
Here's a book about Berliner.
This week's question for your table is a bit philosophical: We all know what music is, right? And we all know the difference between good and bad music, right? So then: What is music? What makes music "good"?
PS - The bit about Berliner is excerpted from the popular iphone/ipad app, the Amazing Jewish Fact-a-Day Calendar.
PPS - Here's an ear-opening discussion of the role of music in Judaism.
(For the biggest enjoyment of this email, try printing it out and sharing at your dinner table.)