Klezmer music in America: revival and beyond


Klezmer music has experienced changing musical content and social function since the late 19th. c. In the immigrant period, mostly Eastern European dance tunes were performed by fairly large groups (12-15 performers). As more klezmer music was recorded, it took on the role of a cultural buffer. From the 1940s to the 1960s, however, it shifted back to a live performance context (weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc.) and was associated especially with the Jewish resort milieu of the Catskills.

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Articles in Journals

Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World


"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 in America. 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.

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Abraham Segal

Israeli Klezmer musician

Avraham Segal (Avrum Shpiler) was born in Safed, Palestine (Erez-Israel). He was a clarinet player, and the last klezmer of the pre-State generations. He is known as Musa Berlin's non-official teacher.


Dave Tarras

Klezmer clarinetist

Dave Tarras was born in Ternovka, near Uman, and immigrated to New York in 1921. He was one of the most famous Klezmer musicians of the 20th century.

Extended biography, including musical samples click here

Additional biography, at National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) website, click here