Havah Nagilah…was composed in 1915 in Ottoman Palestine, when Hebrew was being revived as a spoken language after falling into disuse in this form for approximately 1,700 years, following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132–136 CE. For the first time, Jews were being encouraged to speak Hebrew as a common language, instead of Yiddish, Arabic, Ladino, or other regional Jewish languages.
The lyrics reflect these events:
Let’s rejoice and be happy
Let’s sing and be happy
Awake, awake, my brothers!
Awake my brothers with a happy heart
Awake, my brothers, awake, my brothers!
With a happy heart
An evening pause: What I think makes these performances by Rieu and his orchestra so especially appealing is that he finds musicians who are glad to show how much they enjoy playing this lovely music. He recognizes the importance of fun.
And yes, as a child of the 1960s, I cannot help listening to this music and see spaceships docking. Those of my generation will of course immediately know to what I am referring. Will anyone younger?
An evening pause: From the youtube page: “[Actor Sir Anthony] Hopkins said he had been an admirer of André Rieu for several years and wanted to meet him, so he sent him some music that he wrote with Rieu specifically in mind to perform and his dream came true when André Rieu masterfully performed it with his orchestra.”