Cover image for Fiddler on the move : exploring the klezmer world
Fiddler on the move : exploring the klezmer world
Slobin, Mark.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
154 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm + 1 audio disc (digital ; 4 3/4 in.).
Reading Level:
1350 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3528.8 .S58 2000 Book and Software Set Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"Klezmer" is a Yiddish word for professional folk instrumentalist-the flutist, fiddler, and bass player that made brides weep and guests dance at weddings throughout Jewish eastern Europe before the culture was destroyed in the Holocaust, silenced under Stalin, and lost out to assimilation inAmerica. Klezmer music is now experiencing a tremendous new spurt of interest worldwide with both Jews and non-Jews recreating this restless volatile, and vibrant musical culture. Firmly centered in the United States, klezmer has paradoxically moved back across the Atlantic as a distinctly"American" music, played throughout central and eastern Europe, as well as in many other parts of the world. Fiddler on the Move places klezmer music squarely within American music studies, cultural studies, and ethnomusicology. Neither a chronology nor a comprehensive survey, the book describes a variety of approaches and perspectives for coming to terms with the highly diverse array of activities foundunder the klezmer umbrella. Bringing to his subject the insights of an accomplished ethnomusicologist, Slobin addresses such questions as: How does klezmer overlap with, and differ from, the many other contemporary "heritage" musics based on an assumed connection with a group identity and links toa tradition? How do economics, artistic expression, and the evocation of the past interact in motivating klezmer performers and audiences? In what kinds of environment does klezmer flourish? How do stylistic features such as genre, form, and ornamentation help to define the technique, affect, andaesthetic of klezmer? Featuring a music CD with many of the archival and contemporary recordings discussed in the text, this fascinating study will interest scholars, students, musicians, and music lovers

Author Notes

Mark Slobin is Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music at Wesleyan University. A former president of the Society of Ethnomusicology, Mark Slobin is also the author of Subcultural Sounds: Micromusics of the West, Chosen Voices: The Story of the American Cantorate, and TenementSongs: The Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In an introductory disclaimer, author Slobin, a faculty member at Wesleyan University, explains that his book does not aim to be a chronology or a comprehensive survey of Klezmer. (Readers searching for those would do well to read Seth Rogovoy's recent tome, The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover's Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music from the Old World to the Jazz Age to the Downtown Avant-Garde, LJ 6/15/00.) Compared to Rogovoy's book, Slobin's is more academic in tone, somewhat drier, and not quite as current. Nonetheless, Klezmer fans will find a great deal of valuable material. Slobin focuses on several different perspectives, which make up the central four chapters: "Klezmer as a Heritage Music," "Klezmer as an Urge," "Klezmer as Community," and "Klezmer Style as a Statement." The latter section includes some systematic musicological analysesDincluding sonograms of melodic ornamentsDthat may perplex the lay reader. In general, though, the book is well researched and rich in anecdotes and makes a compelling case for the importance of Klezmer in American musical and cultural studies.DLarry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Written by one of the most distinguished ethnomusicologists working today and accompanied by an illustrative CD, Fiddler on the Move is a thoughtful, essay-like contemplation of klezmer music in contemporary US society and of its culture-historical background. Slobin (Wesleyan Univ.) discusses the klezmer movement from a number of overlapping perspectives: as a "heritage music" that, despite its enormous variety, celebrates the legacy of East European Jews; as a dynamic movement with an aggressive attractiveness; as the defining icon of a community of musicians and music lovers; and as a distinctive body of music. The author presents and analyzes the music, offering case studies of three tunes and discussions of related music. The book's title reflects Slobin's interest in the dynamic aspects of klezmer music's history--its vigor in moving geographically (westward and then eastward across the Atlantic) and among social groups, musical styles, and cultural contexts, and the balance it maintains between continuity and change. Addressing music scholars and informed music lovers, Slobin synthesizes theoretical perspectives from which klezmer music may be studied and thus contributes to ethnomusicological method and theory as well as to American and Jewish studies. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. B. Nettl; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign