Mazurka (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.


“You had Polish dance tunes like krakowiak, oberek, na wesolo, mazur and polonez, and of course polkas and mazurkas and waltzes [which were popular] in the ‘30s. [Russia and Poland, 1930s].” Alpert 1996a, pp. 16-17. (Recording references included). 

“In L. Levanda’s article ‘Starinnye evereiskie svadebnye obichai (Perezhitoe 3), the author lists the dances done by girls with the bride at the preliminaries including: polka, waltz, mazurka, quadrille, and lancers... Most of the dances Levanda mentioned were widespread among the masses only in the second half of the nineteenth century.” Beregovksi 1937 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, p. 533]

“It must be acknowledged, that among our large masses, for a long time now the folkdance has been accompanied by singing and song; and not only to [modern couple dances such as] the polka did people improvise and sing songs, but also to the polonaise, quadrille, waltz, raynlender, mazurka, sher, broyges-tants and others.” Cahan 1952b, p. 89

“Moshe, Moshe, Come here already, we are going to dance a polke with a sher!... We will dance in eight a sher... Khaye, Khaye, come here already, we are going to dance a mazurke and a sher!... We will dance a polke and a sher.” [Uman, Kiev province, pre-World War II]. Cahan 1957, pp. 268-69 (# 296)

“The co-territorial repertoire consisted of local dance tunes of non-Jewish origin played by klezmorim for non-Jews, and also, at times, for Jews within a limited geographical region (such as the Polish mazurka, Ruthenian kolomeyka and Ukrainian kozachok).” Feldman 1994, pp. 9-10

Mazurka. Mazurka (a Polish dance).” Harkavi 1928, p. 284

“‘...Let’s dance the kozak;’... The melody is that of a ‘Polish mazurka.” [Galicia, 1920s-30s]. Pipe 1971a, pp. 161 (#48), 307 (#48)

“Klezmer bands have also been called upon to play waltzes and mazurkas (both in 3/4 meter), polkas (2/4), tangos (4/4), European military marches (2/4 and 6/8), and popular pieces from the Yiddish theatre, often in fox-trot, waltz, tango, and even rhumba rhythms.” Sokolow 1987, p. 20. (Musical notation included). 

“The dance-song is a collective folk-expression which derived from the need to sing for the dance and to dance for the song. The social dances that have no accompanying song emerged in the modern era. The dance-song was preserved by the Jewish masses a long time after the social dances have spread... Also it has been proven that to the new dances like the polka, the mazurka, the polonaise, the quadrille, the waltz words were sung which went with the rhythms.” Stutschewsky 1959, pp. 166-67, n. 55