Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyele were inspired by two separate portraits of two men. In some historical documents they were identified as two Polish Jewish men, one rich and one poor. Being Jewish can mean two things — Judaism is both a religion and a loosely knit group of people. There are many people that consider themselves to be Jews that are not at all religious. There are also religious Jews from all over the world, of all different races. This is a video of synagogues (the Jewish house of worship, like a church) from all over the world.
Here are some old videos of Jewish people from Poland and Eastern Europe. Listen to the music in the videos. It is a particular kind of music, called Klezmer, that comes from the Jews in Eastern Europe. Mussorgsky used the sounds and harmonies of Klezmer music in his composition.
One can’t listen to Jewish music without hearing the famous party song Hava Nagila!
Listen to/watch Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle and brainstorm your picture. The strings at the beginning play a low powerful melody in unison representing the rich person, then a muted trumpet (remember the mute from year 1? It changes the sound of the instrument, making it quieter) comes in portraying a poor person begging for money or food. The two people then come into contact as the strings play at the same time as the trumpet. If this was a scene in a movie, what do you imagine happens? Does the rich person help the poor person? Draw the scene that you imagine from the music. Where are these people? Are they on the street? Are they in a city? Are they in the country? What are they wearing? Is one standing? One sitting? Are they both standing, or both sitting? Do they see each other? Are they talking to each other in your picture? Or are they looking away from each other?