Thursday, July 31, 2008

Klezmer Music

I forgot to say last night that I adore Klezmer music.

This photo has nothing to do with the subject, but aren't they cute?

Klezmer, translated from Hebrew means "klei zemer" (musical instruments). Wikipedia says "Klezmer is easily identifiable by its characteristic expressive melodies, reminiscent of the human voice, complete with laughing and weeping." Ari Davidow describes Klezmer music by saying it "refers to the conglomeration of Greek and Central/Eastern European music played at Jewish celebrations. A pure klezmer band has no vocalist--it just turns up the volume and swings the music faster. Unlike rock, or African-influenced music, klez is made for dancing while holding hands, or dancing with a partner. It doesn't bounce, it flows. It swings, it cries. Traditionally, there wouldn't even be a drummer (and, in fact, the difference between a modern "Bar Mitzvah band" and a good band of klezmorim often relies on just that distinction. Bar Mitzvah bands have drummers. Klezmorim create a motion and feel that doesn't fit easily into 4/4, and certainly aren't comfortable with "a one and uh two". It's no accident that when Jewish musicians abandoned the "old world" music and moved into the American idiom, many of them (most notably Benny Goodman) moved into jazz."

Try listening to this one from the Budapest Klezmer Band. Its fantastic.

Or this one featuring Itzhak Perlman.

What about the North Strand Klezmer Band?

This music form makes me happy, probably one of the reasons I am crazy about Fiddler On The Roof. What do you think?


  1. This was my first experience with this music. I like it. It does sound happy and soulful. It's like the musicians are very intense. I had never heard of it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Fascinating. I wasn't familiar with the term "Klezmer" until reading this post, but I do like this kind of music in small doses.

  3. I agree mod girl. It only takes a little bit to make you happy and ready for a party.

  4. What is it that makes this kind of music so incredibly festive? It makes you want to jump around and be happy, doesn't it. I love it, too.

  5. I agree with the other comments. I can not imagine listening to this music and without tapping my feet. Maybe if I listen to this in the morning I can skip that extra cup of coffee.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. It is an infectious sound - so full of joy!
    (That is an adorable photo.)


  7. This is the first I've heard of the music and it's very fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I finally got the tag done Steviewren! I had some computer problems because of the heat so it took me longer than I expected...sorry!
    It was fun!

    Living in Brooklyn I am VERY familar with Klezmer music! It is a part of every Jewish celebration and I have manay Jewish friends.

  9. i've never heard of klezmer music before but i've always adored fiddler on the roof so i guess i'm a fan! i'm off to check out your links! thanks for enlightening me!

  10. Steviewren, hi! It's me, Lavinia....finally resurfaced and on the blogosphere and catching up on all the best blogs....including yours of course.

    I grew up listening to music very similar to this. It was the kind of music I heard at Greek dances, and can't imagine that anyone would ever sit in an audience for this, as this was pure 'dance' music for us. The Greek version certainly has the clarinet as the usual star, but more of an Eastern flavour to the music. Not so Fiddler on the Roof-ish (if there is such a word!). The tempo is much steadier and constant, instead of the back and forth changes as evidenced in the you-tube link you provide (I watched and listened to that link, so saw the variable tempos to the musical piece).

    I just always thought it was only us Greek folk that enjoyed this music and I never heard of the word Klezmer.

  11. Stevie...I love this music! Klezmer music I've heard before, but never knew what to call it. We did some clapping and singing this morning at the Beth Moore simulcast :) A bit comtemporary but nice..

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