Cover image for American Klezmer : its roots and offshoots
American Klezmer : its roots and offshoots
Slobin, Mark.
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
vii, 245 pages : illustrations, music ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Most of the contributions to this volume began at the first Klezmer Research Conference, held at Wesleyan University in 1996"--Introd.
American Klezmer: a brief history / Hankus Netsky -- Klezmer-Ioshn: the language of Jewish folk musicians / Robert A. Rothstein -- Di Rushishe progresiv Muzikal Yunyoun No. 1 fun Americke : the first Klezemer Union in America / James Leoffler -- The Klezmer in Jewish Philadelphia, 1915-70 / Hankus Netsky -- "All my life a musician": Ben Bazyler, a European Klezmer in America / Michael Alpert -- Bulgărescă, Bulgarish, Bulgar: the transformation of the Klezmer dance genre / Walter Zec Feldman -- Sounds and sensibility / Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett -- KlezKamp and the rise of Yiddish cultural literacy / Henry Sapoznik -- Newish, not Jewish: a tale of two bands / Marion Jacobson -- An insider's view: how we traveled from obscurity to the Klezmer establishment in twenty years / Frank London -- Why we do this anyway: Klezmer as Jewish youth subculture / Alicia Svigals.
Reading Level:
1520 Lexile.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3528.8 .A54 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Klezmer, the Yiddish word for a folk instrumental musician, has come to mean a person, a style, and a scene. This musical subculture came to the United States with the late-nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Although it had declined in popularity by the middle of the twentieth century, this lively music is now enjoying recognition among music fans of all stripes. Today, klezmer flourishes in the United States and abroad in the world music and accompany Jewish celebrations. The outstanding essays collected in this volume investigate American klezmer: its roots, its evolution, and its spirited revitalization.

The contributors to American Klezmer include every kind of authority on the subject--from academics to leading musicians--and they offer a wide range of perspectives on the musical, social, and cultural history of klezmer in American life. The first half of this volume concentrates on the early history of klezmer, using folkloric sources, records of early musicians unions, and interviews with the last of the immigrant musicians. The second part of the collection examines the klezmer "revival" that began in the 1970s. Several of these essays were written by the leaders of this movement, or draw on interviews with them, and give firsthand accounts of how klezmer is transmitted and how its practitioners maintain a balance between preservation and innovation.

Author Notes

Mark Slobin is Professor of Music at Wesleyan University and author of several books on Jewish and Central European music, including Tenement Songs: Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants (1992) and Exploring the Klezmer World (2000).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The 11 scholarly essays in this volume deal with klezmer music as a part of American culture--where it came from, how it developed in a number of different strands in the US, and where it seems to be going. Arguably the most distinguished scholar of Jewish musical traditions in the US (though his contribution here is limited to a ten-page introduction), Slobin (Wesleyan Univ.) includes essays by musicologists, musicians, folklorists, and historians well known in klezmer scholarship. The contributors contemplate the multifarious development of klezmer music in the US from several perspectives. The first section, "Roots," includes studies on the history of klezmer music (by Hankus Netzky), the first union of klezmer musicians early in the 20th century (James Loeffler), and the Bulgarian roots of a klezmer dance genre (Walter Zev Feldman). The essays in the second section, "Offshoots," consider the present and future of klezmer music. Most significant here are the lengthy "Sounds of Sensibility," by prominent folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and "KlezKamp and the Rise of Yiddish Cultural Literacy," by the well-known klezmer scholar Henry Sapoznik. This interesting book is for those who know a good deal about klezmer music, ethnomusicology, folklore, and Jewish studies. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. B. Nettl University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Table of Contents

IntroductionMark Slobin
Part 1 Roots
1 American Klezmer A Brief HistoryHankus Netsky
2 Klezmer-Loshn The Language of Jewish Folk MusiciansRobert A. Rothstein
3 Di rusishe progresiv muzikal yunon no. 1 fun amerike The First Klezmer Union in AmericaJames B. Loeffler
4 The Klezmer in Jewish Philadelphia, 1915-70Hankus Netsky
5 "All My Life a Musician" Ben Bazyler: A European Klezmer in AmericaMichael Alpert
6 Bulgareasca/Bulgarish/Bulgar The Transformation of a Klezmer Dance GenreWalter Z. Feldman
Part 2 Offshoots
7 Sounds of Sensibility BarbaraKirshenblatt-Gimblett
8 Klezkamp and the Rise of Yiddish Cultural LiteracyHenry Sapoznik
9 Newish, Not Jewish Reshaping Klezmer Musical TraditionsMarion Jacobson
10 An Insider's View How We Traveled from Obscurity to the Klezmer Establishment in Twenty Years Frank London
11 Why We Do This Anyway
Klezmer as Youth Subculture Alicia Svigals
Works Cited