My Project ‘Fusion’ Devoted to My Maternal Grandfather

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The Twentieth Century has been one of the most eventful periods of Jewish History. Write a researched essay on the life of ONE member of your family showing how that person’s experiences relate to the overall history of the period.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Plato

I have chosen to write, compose and dedicate my Hans Kimmel project to my maternal grandfather, Stanley Marks.

Now 84 years old, he remains spritely and engaged. He loves seeing and spending time with his 8 grandchildren, playing golf, and attending classical music concerts and lectures with my grandmother. Since an early age, he has loved jazz music like myself. We will often discuss and listen to his jazz favorites. Over the last 5 years, he has loved watching my cousin, brother and myself play in the Moriah College Jazz Bands.

Throughout his life, my grandfather has felt a strong connection to a number of countries. South Africa, his place of birth and place where he lived until he was 44, Australia where he has lived for the last 40 years, and Israel, a country that has always tugged at his heartstrings.

Fusion is defined as the process of combining 2 or more distinct entities into a new whole. Jazz fusion is a music genre that combines jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, rhythm, and blues.

My grandfather’s neshama is a fusion of these 3 countries and for this reason, I have composed a jazz piece, titled ‘Fusion’, portraying his life, love, and soul as a piece of music.

Stanley Milton Marks, my maternal grandfather, was born to Eva and Herman Marks on the 23rd of February 1935 in Johannesburg, Transvaal (now Gauteng). One of three children, Stanley had two older sisters; Myrna Eunice Rudolph and Barbara Joyce Victor.

When World War II broke out, South Africa was divided as to whether to join the war and which side to ally with. This resulted in the division of the United Party whose coalition partners disagreed on whether to stay neutral during the war or to join the side of the Allies. Fortunately, the head of the South African Party, Jan Smuts was successful, becoming Prime Minister of South Africa and joining the war on Ally's side. Many Afrikaners felt closer to the Germans and wished to be on the German side during the war causing some tension in South African society. In the background of this, my grandpa’s only vivid memory of persecution was being called a ‘bloody Jew’ by one of his Afrikaner classmates during the war. Other than this one incident, during his childhood, my grandpa was never a victim of antisemitism and at his primary school Saxonwald, his class was 50% Jewish. South Africa had a strong vibrant Jewish community numbering around 120,000 at its peak in the 1970s.

From 1947 to 1951, my grandpa completed his secondary education at Parktown Boys High School, where many of his friends had transferred. He had his Barmitzvah and said both his Maftir and Haftorah on the 13th of March, 1948 at the Oxford Synagogue in Johannesburg. His celebrations continued the next day, in a marquee erected in the backyard. With all of his family, friends, and guests gathered in the marquee, the party ensued, only to be flooded by a downpour directly overhead. My grandpa recalls the lights going out and many guests running inside to escape the rainstorm, effectively ending his Barmitzvah. He then decided that he should just go to bed, even though drenched party guests were still present. A party never to be forgotten by all that attended.

Two months later, on the 15th of May, my grandpa remembers hearing about the Israeli declaration of independence. This coincidently coincided with his best friend, Ronnie Bethlehem’s Barmitzvah. He recalls the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Louis Rabinowitz, sitting with his father in the lounge listening to the radio broadcast of the news of the victory of the establishment of the State of Israel and feeling a sense of enlightenment. This led him to join a Zionist youth movement called Bnei Zion. In his youth movement, he quickly became a ‘madrich’ who ran the ‘Yaldei Zion’ group (boys up to the age of 13). He participated in and ran many different sessions, teaching the boys about Israel and its leaders, lessons in Judaism, and many songs that he remembers to this day.

During this same year, 1948, after South Africa’s general election, the system of apartheid was adopted as a formal policy of the South African Government. Laws were written segregating black South Africans from ‘whites’. The National party divided shops, benches, buses, toilets, parks, and restaurants into color, further alienating black South Africans. As a white man living in a segregated society, my grandpa lived a comfortable life even during the war years. In 1945, at the conclusion of World War II, he remembers being treated to two rarities, black jack gum, and white bread treats brought home by his father. He also remembers being told to go dance and play in his school’s playground for some photos to be taken for the Newsreels and shown at the cinema.

His primary and high schools were comprised of white-only children. His interactions with non-white South Africans were severely limited. South African citizens were prohibited from marrying or engaging in sexual relationships across racial boundaries and South Africans were classified as 'Black', 'White', 'Coloured', and 'Indian', which determined where they could live. Non-White South Africans were removed from their homes and forced into segregated neighborhoods, known as Bantustans, and lost their South African citizenship. To further demean them, various laws adopted by the National Party allowed only whites to vote.

Towards the end of school, my grandpa developed a keen interest in Jazz music. Although he never played an instrument, during his teen years he enjoyed listening to Bennie Goodman and Duke Ellington. At age 17, my grandpa exchanged records with a good friend, Ruth Cohen, who he gave his Bennie Goodman records in exchange for George Shearing. His passion for Jazz has never waned and he and I spend lots of time talking about and listening to old Jazz records together.

In 1951, my grandpa was appointed a prefect and then matriculated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Witwatersrand University. There were no Black South Africans or indeed women in his course. However, Wits was one of the universities which did allow black students, the most famous of which was Nelson Mandela. He commenced his law degree in 1943, only completing it in 1989 due to his sentence of life imprisonment which found him guilty of attempting to overthrow the government in 1962.

While my grandpa was at university, the African National Congress party started a series of peaceful protests where they would sit on ‘white only’ benches past the African curfew, fail to carry their identification passes, and enter places they were not allowed to. Later, these protests became known as the ‘defiance campaign’ which was the first large-scale, multi-racial movement against apartheid by the African National Congress, South African Indian Congress, and the Coloured People’s Congress. More than 8,000 protesters went to jail for “defying unjust laws”.

At the conclusion of his degree, my grandpa decided to become a Chartered Accountant. With the freedom of having lived a privileged life in South Africa, he was articled to Alder Isaacs, founding partner at Isaacs, Kessel, Feinstein & Co (chartered accountants) where he worked for three years.

After passing his Board Exam and completing articles, Stanley traveled overseas. He spent time with his sister and her family in America before arriving in London where he found a job at William S. Ogle and Company (chartered accountants) in Old Broad Street, London.

After working in London, he flew to Israel for the first time in 1959, where the love kindled in him from Bnei Zion was enhanced. Over two months, my grandpa spent time with friends from South Africa who had made Aliyah to Kibbutz Hasolelim and traveled around Israel, enhancing his appreciation of Jewish culture and Zionism. Israel during the late ’50s was a place of change. The new generation was rebelling against the old nationalistic and socialist views and was focusing more on individualism and self-expression. Israel was yet to win Jerusalem and was just recovering from the Sinai Campaign. My grandpa has gone on to visit Israel many more times seeing and appreciating the changes in borders, ideology, and the modernization of Israel.

On return to South Africa, my grandpa joined Fisher, Hoffman, Levenberg & Co as an accountant in 1960 and later became a partner in the firm.

Life for black South Africans continued to get worse. In the background of this, the Sharpeville Massacre took place on the 21st of March 1960. The African National Congress party wanted to revoke South Africa’s Pass Laws and decided to gather 20,000 black South Africans for a peaceful protest at a police station in Sharpeville. Peaceful turned violent when the police fired into the crowd of people, killing 69 and injuring approximately 190 people. This public and brutal demonstration led to a mountain of international criticism and is noted as the first and one of the most violent demonstrations against South African apartheid.

But family life continued and on the 9th of April 1961, my grandpa then 26, married my grandma, Zelda Davidoff who was 20. Over the next 10 years, they had four children; Kevin born on 19th March 1962, Richard born on 28th June 1964, Howard born on 22nd April 1968 and my mother, Gabrielle born on 15th March 1972.

In 1967, on the 11th of July, a few days after Israel’s 6-day war, my grandpa received a phone call from his mother, bearing the news of his father’s passing at age 75. He was devastated at the loss of his wonderful father who had been a mentor to him throughout his life. Tragedy struck once again in 1974 when his mother Eva, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After 8 months of exploratory operations and pain, she passed away on the 4th of August 1974, aged 68 years.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s apartheid regime was earning deserved global disapproval. In 1974, South Africa was expelled from the United Nations. This led to a series of events and a deterioration of the quality of life for black South Africans as the government felt they had no moral code or responsibility for their actions.

In 1976, the police opened fire on school children living in Soweto, and over the next few months more than 600 students were murdered for retaliating against apartheid in what has become known as the ‘Soweto Massacre’. Steve Biko, an anti-apartheid activist, and organizer of this protest was murdered.

Although my grandpa didn’t witness this brutality firsthand and the news reporting was very censored, he was very much aware of the oppression and mistreatment of black South Africans. An act of persecution that he did witness with his two youngest children, Howard and Gaby (my mother) was when they watched white police officers arrest two well-dressed Africans, throw them to the ground, then into a van, claiming that they didn’t have the correct paperwork to be walking out on the streets. My mother doesn’t remember this incident.

While my grandparents were comfortable and happy living in South Africa, they were increasingly uncomfortable with the treatment of the black South Africans and were disturbed by the Soweto Massacre and the murder of Steve Biko. My grandparents decided over the course of a couple of years that it was time to leave South Africa due to the brutal treatment of non-whites. In 1979 this was brought to a climax due to the impending graduation of their oldest son, Kevin, my uncle.

Kevin had just completed high school and the South African parliament passed laws making military service compulsory for white males. In 1977, the parliament increased the term of conscription from 9 months to 2 years and a further 30 days annually for 8 years.

Whilst my uncle may have received a deferment until he had completed his university degree, whites were not given an exemption from military service. Kevin has told me that after he left South Africa in 1979, he was too scared to return even for a visit in case he was conscripted or even worse, arrested for failing to join the army. My uncle revisited South Africa for the first time to see his school friends and family in 2018.

Since 1975, South Africa had been involved in the Angolan Civil War, where my uncle would have served had he been conscripted. My grandfather did not believe South Africa should have involved itself in this war and had been told by friends whose children were sent to Angola of frightening conditions and brutality. My grandparents’ concerns were well-founded. In May 1980, the South African military attacked insurgents and launched a full-scale invasion of Angola in June of that year.

It was a tough decision for my grandfather to leave South Africa. He was a well-established professional, a partner in a large accounting firm, and owned his own house in a good neighborhood. When he was granted emigration papers to leave South Africa, he was only permitted to take out 30,000 rands, a secondhand car, and furniture with him. The rest of his assets were held in South Africa. They could only be accessed on trips back to the country. Over the years, due to inflation and the devaluing of the rand, the majority of the money left in South Africa by my grandparents lost its value.

My grandpa was sponsored to immigrate to Sydney by the accountancy firm Coopers & Lybrand in their Corporate Services division. He and my grandma decided that Sydney was a nice place to live and raise their children. Immigration left my grandpa feeling displaced and it took many years for him to feel at home in Sydney. He felt a great sense of joy and pride when Nelson Mandela was freed, became South Africa’s first black president and the African National Congress was elected at the first fully democratic election. He has watched with sadness as South Africa has not thrived as expected and violence and lawlessness have prevailed. Most devastatingly, the escalating violence in South Africa was tragically close to their heart when his best friend Ronnie Bethlehem, whose bar mitzvah he celebrated on the original Yom Ha’atzmaut was carjacked and murdered in Johannesburg. He still worries about his sister, her children, and grandchildren who remain in South Africa many of whom have been carjacked, held up at gunpoint, tied up, and robbed.

Many South Africans who were leaving that oppressive regime found Australia to be an appealing option. The ‘White Australia’ policy which had limited immigration by non-Europeans to Australia was abolished in 1973 and led to the embracing of multiculturalism. The Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 made discrimination on the grounds of race illegal. As a Jew who understood how brutal government-led racism could be, Australia was a breath of fresh air for my grandparents compared to South Africa. This was a common feeling within the South African Jewish community and is one of the drivers for Jewish migration from South Africa. The move to Australia also represented a well-worn path by Lithuanian Jews who had migrated to South Africa as his father had done at age 17 and then a re-migration in the next generation to Australia, known as ‘twice removed Jews’. My grandpa had many acquaintances in Sydney of this nature.

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He arrived a few months before the family to start work and to provide a place for his family to live. When his family arrived a few months later, Kevin was registered into Shalom College, UNSW, Richard and Howard into Cranbrook, and Gabrielle into Moriah College. However, they moved out of their Old South Head Road apartment and settled on the North Shore, relocating Richard and Howard to Killara High School and Gaby to Masada College.

After working for six years at Cooper's & Lybrand, my grandpa was offered a position at Trinity Properties Limited where he was appointed Finance director. On the 17th of July, 1987, The Australian newspaper posted an article under the heading “Block appoints a Brother Yarpie” which read in part:

“The South African Mafia continues to grow stronger. David Block, the first of an ever-increasing wave of Yarpies to make it to Australia, has appointed fellow countryman Stanley Marks to the board of Trinity Properties.”

From Trinity, my grandpa worked at Kalamazoo Holdings Limited, various chartered accounting firms, and finally at Haynes Norton where he retired in 2008.

In Sydney, my grandpa joined Monash Country Club and in 1997 was invited to join the Board of Monash Holdings Limited, the company that founded the golf club in the wake of malevolent antisemitism after the Second World War when Jews were denied membership to other golf clubs. He was elected vice president from 2002 to 2004 and President in 2004 and 2005 and again from 2008 to 2009. His strong Jewish connection and love of golf led to him seeking these higher positions and instituting Jewish cultural elements into the club such as serving matzah during Pesach. Throughout his golfing career, my grandpa has scored 2 holes in one, one in 1967 and the next 50 years later in 2017. He jokes that his next hole-in-one will come in 2067 when he is 132 years old.

In 2002, after Kevin had moved to New York, Richard to Brisbane, Gaby, and Howard to the Eastern Suburbs and their beloved dog Kimber had passed, my grandparents decided to sell their house in Killara and move to Coogee, where they could be close to the sea and their children who remained in Sydney.

My grandparents have 8 grandchildren. Daniel and Ben who live in America, and Adam, Sarah, Tammy, Rebecca, Jonny, and I who all went to or currently attend Moriah College and live in Sydney.

From South Africa to Australia, with Israel in his heart, my grandpa has lived a wonderful life.

My piece, ‘Fusion’

My piece, ‘Fusion’ incorporates elements of jazz including blues, swing, traditional modes, and staples of 20th-century jazz style. I have chosen to compose using this style as it embodies the spirit and dynamism of my grandfather which has enabled me to successfully integrate the different components of his identity.

To portray this to the listener, I have included famous phrases and elements of Duke Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’, Die Stem van Suid-Afrika, Hatikvah, and Advance Australia Fair.

Intro

Simple Jazz drum kit. Having a cohesive jazz rhythm section, which includes guitar, piano, and bass is key in setting the foundation for a jazz song. The drums have not been shown on the score (check notes for added detail).

Bars 1-4

Written in 1953 by bandleader and jazz composer Duke Ellington, his simple jazz standard ‘Satin Doll’ has gained worldwide recognition and appraisal. The song tells the tale of Ellington’s love for his long-time mistress Bea Ellis as expressed in his flirtatious lyrics, ‘Swich-e-Rooney, Telephone numbers well you know, ’ which portray his forbidden romance.

The year this jazz ballad was written, my grandfather was 18 and already had a tape collection filled with his own jazz favorites. The simple riff and melody of Satin Doll are timeless staples in his collection and are a favorite of my own. By incorporating elements of Ellington’s piece into my own composition, I was able to create the foundation of my piece using a song that both my grandpa and I love.

I turned the piano swing riff at the beginning of Satin Doll into an unswung homophonic brass theme to serve as the opening melody of my piece. It has been modulated into the key of my piece and changed to suit a powerful opening brass theme rather than a melodic piano tune.

Bars 5-21 and 41- end

My grandpa has always been a bubbly, kind, and funny person. I decided to embody his traits in a jazzy trumpet melody harmonized in thirds by Trumpet 2. I have used this 5-bar melody to mold together the individual themes of the piece (Satin doll, Die Stem, Hatikvah, and Advance Australia Fair).

To fill out the sound of my ‘big band’, I composed different chordal melodies and played them in fragments throughout the piece along with pedaled chords played by the electric guitar. I added rhythmic blues harmonies over the melody in bars 33-40 adding contrast and a cool jazz feel to the section.

By incorporating a walking bass into my bassline, I secured the swing jazz feel which plays through the entirety of the piece. Essentially, through my original jazz composition elements, I was able to create a mix between swing jazz, cool jazz, and bebop which give my piece rhythmic momentum, drive, and interest.

Bars 22-26

Die Stem van Suid-Afrika was the former South African National Anthem from 1957 to 1994 throughout most of the apartheid era. It succeeded ‘God save the King’ and preceded ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ which is in fact a fusion of the country’s former anthems. Translated to ‘The Call of South Africa’, Die Stem was disliked strongly by the black South Africans who associated it strongly with the apartheid regime.

South Africa was the country where my grandfather was born and spent all of his young, teen, and early adult life. It is where he received an education, met my grandmother, started a family, and cemented his own beliefs and values. While he hasn’t lived in South Africa for 40 years, Die Stem represents the South Africa of my grandfather’s time until he immigrated to Australia in 1979.

In order to fit the opening theme of Die Stem into my composition, I modulated and created my own rendition of it. It is backed up by layers of composition which have been altered from my main theme (bars 10-14).

Bars 27-32

Hatikvah, the hope, was instated as Israel’s national anthem on the eve of its foundation as a state. Based on Smetana’s Moldau, (a piece which coincidentally was played by my band, the Moriah Symphony Orchestra, last year at music camp) the poem turned song tells the tale of an age-old hope and the longing for a Jewish homeland.

My grandfather has always been vocal about his support and love for the Jewish homeland. He marked the momentous occasion of Israel’s foundation at his best friend's Barmitzvah which subsequently led him to join one of the first Zionistic youth groups in South Africa, Bnei Zion. From identifying as an Australian Jew and being an avid member of Coogee Synagogue, Judaism has helped shape my grandfather’s morals and outlook on life.

In my piece, Hatikvah serves as a full tenor melody played by the trombones. As such, I didn’t provide it with any rhythmic or melodic harmony to fill out the phrasing. I have continued in the background with continuous chordal fragmentation and a walking bass to provide depth to the melody.

Bars 33-40

Advance Australia Fair was chosen as Australia’s National Anthem under a plebiscite by the people in 1977. Written by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick, the tune written in C major has caused quite a controversial outlook on what it means to be Australian. The suppressed Indigenous Australians have commented on the fact that “fair” has been used to celebrate the British colonization in Australia, referring to the “fair” people as “pure” and more importantly “white”.

Having lived in Sydney since 1979, my grandfather has a strong attachment to Australia. He has set roots in the Monash Golf Club, and Coogee synagogue has made many friends, and has seen 6 of his grandchildren born in Australia. In my composition, Advance Australia Fair is used to represent the second half of my grandfather’s life and the coming of age of his children and grandchildren.

Layered under an original counter-melody based on the blues scale, Advance Australia Fair serves as the bedrock of this section of my piece. It has made way for interesting and rich harmonies to come through the melody and shine a diverse light on the timeless tune. As opposed to its usual ‘fan-fareish’ glory, Advance Australia Fair has been used to provide depth and foundation to the other layers of my composition.

Note

Using Logic Pro X, the music software installed on the Moriah laptops, it is impossible to change the volume during a composition. I have included dynamic and rhythmic markings such as crescendos, decrescendos, staccatos, tenutos, and accents into my score but they will not be heard on the mp3 recording of my composition. This is a technical weakness of the software.

Additionally, the swing drum set which is playing continuously throughout the piece is a software instrument automated by Logic Pro X. As I added this sound in and didn’t compose it myself, I have chosen to refrain from it being viewed on the attached score. I have composed every instrument that is presented in the score, this is why the drum kit is not visible.

Conclusion

Over the course of 4 and a half months spent interviewing my grandfather, researching historical elements of his story, and composing under the mentorship of Mr. Eagling, I worked tirelessly to incorporate all of these elements of my grandfather’s story into a tangible piece of work which would serve as my Hans Kimmel assessment.

At times, I was frustrated with my lack of progress and seemingly unproductive composition which resulted in many plans to delete my project and pick an easier alternative. However, once I took the time to delve into the reason why I decided to compose a Jazz piece as a tribute to my grandfather, I understood that my effort would result in a project that I would be proud of and that my family would appreciate immensely.

I persisted, spending hours modulating different tunes, adding compositional techniques, and searching for the hidden ‘out of tune’ notes which would ultimately result in my finished work. I am immensely grateful that I was given the opportunity to work on this project and understand my grandfather in a different light.

I dedicate ‘Fusion’ to Stanley Milton Marks, my grandpa.

I hope that I have made you proud.

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