Judaism in William Finn's Falsettoland Essay

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Judaism in William Finn's Falsettoland

Judaism and Jewish culture have always been central to William Finn,
writer of a trilogy of short works following Marvin, a homosexual
living within the Jewish faith. Falsettoland itself forms the final
part of the trilogy whilst In Trousers and March of the Falsettos are
the first two instalments respectively. Christianity condemns
homosexuality within its faith, therefore, surely Judaism would take a
moral stand and condemn any theatrical portrayal of such events? Did
the Reform movement which began to grow in America in the 1830s have
any effect upon the time Falsettoland was written, and, if so, how was
Falsettoland as a music theatre work subject to such effects?

From the outset it is important to define the boundaries within which
the term ‘Judaism’ and ‘Reform Judaism’ will be used. This paper
focuses upon Judaism (be it Orthodox or Reform) within America and
does not focus upon the origins of Judaism in Europe. Although perhaps
some beliefs and moral standings were reflected across the Atlantic,
for the purposes of this argument this will be negligible.

When analysing the musical content of Falsettoland it is important
that one does not get carried away on the intended meaning, although
only suggested as a guide and personal response to the music, the
analysis is by no means definite and as the author intended.

We’re free to borrow from both European operatic tradition and
American musical tradition, toss out what we don’t need and invent
whatever creature we want, whatever we choose. And above all else,

Jewish life in America changed dramatically throughout the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries. The majority of Jews being those wit...

... middle of paper ...


Ø Storr, A. Music and the Mind (HarperCollins, 1997)

Ø Volkman, E. A Legacy of Hate: Anti-Semitism in America (Franklin
Watts, 1982)


Ø Finn, W. Falsettoland (New York: DRG Records Inc, 1990)


[1] LaChiusa, M.J. ‘I Sing of America’s Mongrel Culture’ in New York
Times 14 November 1999)

[2] Finn, W. Vocal selections from Falsettos (Warner Bros Publications
Inc, 1992) p.86

[3] Storr, A. Music and the Mind (London: HarperCollins, 1997) p.187

[4] Rossoff, R.D. What is Judaism’s view on Homosexuality? Accessed 10
January 2005

[5] Katz, L.. ‘What is a Bar Mitzvah?’ In Your Guide to Judaism

[6] Volkman, E. A Legacy of Hate: Anti-Semitism in America (Franklin
Watts, 1982) p.10

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