Kutner (LKT)

This entry is part of the Lexicon of Klezmer Terminology (LKT). The LKT compiles a wide array of source materials that shed light on the historical and contemporary state of knowledge about klezmer music. Each entry includes a number of citations from primary and secondary sources that include or refer to the term in question. It also indicates whether musical notation or sound recordings are included in the source. By clicking on the bibliographic hyperlink at the end of each citation, you get the full reference.


“I’m quite sure the year was 1895... After the ceremony, as is customary in a Jewish wedding, the newlyweds were led into a private room... Meanwhile the young men began dancing. Girls danced also but separately. They danced folk dances and waltzes, in which boys dance with boys and girls dance with girls... Later the  groom’s younger brother, Shmuel Stelmakh (wheelwright), got up. Although he was a carpenter by trade, all of his father’s children were called by their father’s trade. Shmuel was already one of the ‘playboys,’ as they were called in Khmelnik; he worked in the big city, where the pay was a lot better. He wanted to show his friends that he was a real sport, that he could afford to pay the musicians a long dance all by himself. The dance was a kind known as a ‘Kutner’ or ‘Larsey,’ in which eight couples take part. He asked the musicians how much he had to pay for the Kutner, and they told him it cost a whole ruble....So, the couples began getting into position for the dance. The musicians began playing in rhythm. Since they were standing way up in the first room, they couldn’t see what was happening in the much larger second room, especially as the youngsters who weren’t dancing blocked off the view into the room. Thus no one would see that boys and girls were dancing together. But a mishap took place. The musicians began playing the second introduction to the Kutner dance before the dancers had finished the first steps. One of the young men who was conducting the dance shouted out to the musicians not to change the music.  Since Sane, who was playing first fiddle, didn’t understand what the young man wanted, he came closer to the entrance to the second room in order to ask him. He was rather tall, and could see over the heads of the people who were blocking the doorway. He looked over, and saw the boys dancing with the girls. With his eyes to the ground, Sane returned to the musicians and said something in the musicians’ jargon, which no one else unders. The musicians immediately stopped playing. The dancers grew frightened and stopped dancing...” Mints 1960, pp. 120-122