Klezmer Music

Klezmer music finds new life in America in the late 1900s.

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Performed by the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band


Links courtesy The Klezmer Shack.


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Sapoznik's enthusiasm for his own music, which he saw now with different eyes, led him to additional research into klezmer music, funded by U.S. government grants. He met elderly Jews who had played in the klezmer ensembles of the 1920s and on some of the first klezmer recordings by companies like Columbia and RCA Victor. By 1979, Sapoznik had formed Kapelye to play a concert in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1981 the group, enhanced by clarinetist Andy Statman, Sapoznik's own cantor father, and others, formed Der Yiddisher Caravan, a national touring show that performed cantorial selections, Yiddish theater songs, and klezmer music in concert venues across the United States. Coincidentally, others had also begun to delve into klezmer music.

jewish musicClarinetist Giora Feidman, formerly of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, popularized klezmer in Israel and in appearances in America. Andy Statman and ethnomusicologist Zev Feldman had staged a retrospective of the work of veteran European-American klezmer musician Dave Tarras (1897-1989) in 1978. Hankus Netsky, a jazz music instructor at the New England Conservatory of Music, had rediscovered the klezmer music of his trumpeter uncle Sol Katz in a Philadelphia basement. Netsky enthusiastically recreated the big band sound of the early American klezmer recordings with his students and colleagues, forming the Klezmer Conservatory Band.

The rebirth of klezmer continued on an upward trajectory of isolated but increasingly important events involving Henry Sapoznik and his growing network of colleagues. Sapoznik's research resulted in Folkways Music's retrospective reissue of some classic 78 RPM recordings, Klezmer Music: 1910-1942.

In 1982, Sapoznik became the director of the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Sound Recording at YIVO. That summer, his band Kapelye appeared in the Hollywood version of Chaim Potok's The Chosen and issued their first album. In 1983 Sapoznik and Andy Statman were joined by Pete Sokolow and other top New York Jewish and jazz musicians, performing their show Klezmer Meets Jazz at New York's Jewish Museum and at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. Pete Sokolow used the arrangements he wrote for that show to form his Original Klezmer Jazz Band, which issued its first recording in 1984, the same year in which a group calling itself The Klezmorim played Carnegie Hall and the Klezmer Conservatory Band scored a huge success appearing on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, broadcast on National Public Radio stations across the country.

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Marsha B. Edelman

Marsha Bryan Edelman is professor of music and education at Gratz College. She also serves as director of the Tyson Music Department and coordinates the college's academic programs in Jewish music.