Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to
by Henry Sapoznik
Hardcover - 350 pages (December 2000)
Music Sales Corp;
ISBN: 0825671914 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.05 x 9.53 x 6.41
available: Companion CD
direct on our site. To order>>
Somewhere behind Marc Chagall's flying
fiddlers exists the true image of the klezmer. In contrast
to Chagall's delicately muted colors are the simple monochromes
popularly associated with Eastern European Jewish musicians,
unschooled players whose 'soul music' moved listeners from
laughter to tears, Wandering Jews of the Wandering Jews.
Among the immigrants who came to America in
search of a better life were Jewish musicians from Eastern
Europe. Known as klezmorim in their hometowns, these musicians
eked out a living by providing music for rituals, ceremonies,
dancing, and celebrations. But on these shores, the chance
for survival of their centuries-old tradition seemed grim.
The forces of assimilation led many musicians
to work in classical, jazz, and pop, turning their backs on
the music of their childhood. Others blended the Yiddish stylings
and sounds with more contemporary music to form a new distinctly
American music. Still others lay down their instruments and
forgot the traditions they had cherished at home. And no one
seemed to care, least of all the klezmorim's children and
grandchildren, who, becoming more Americanized by the moment,
adopted the music of their adopted country.
In 1976, ethnomusicology student Henry Sapoznik,
the son of a cantor and Holocaust survivors, was hot on the
trail of American old-time music, playing banjo tunes from
Appalachia. While visiting a well-known traditional fiddler
in North Carolina, Sapoznik was rendered speechless when asked,
"Don't your people got none of your own music?"
He decided to find out.
In his quest to trace the roots of klezmer,
the traditional instrumental music of Yiddish-speaking Jews,
Sapoznik unearthed antique 78s, sheet music, and newspaper
clippings; found rare discs of long-forgotten radio programs;
and, most important of all, rediscovered and championed the
last generation of old-time klezmer musicians, bringing their
musical styles to a new audience.
Klezmer! is a fascinating story of survival
against all odds, of a musical legacy so potent it can still
be heard, despite assimilation and near annihilation. The
scratchy, distant sound of early recordings bursts forth with
such power that they have formed the basis for an entirely
new generation of performers, Jew and non-Jew alike, who have
embraced and expanded the klezmer tradition. Through stories,
pictures, and a companion CD, Klezmer! reintroduces this most
vital musical form to new and old fans alike.
Henry Sapoznik, a pioneering scholar and performer of traditional
Yiddish and American music, has published widely on the history
of Jewish theatrical and klezmer music. A record producer,
performer and archivist, he has been a leader in the klezmer
revival for two decades.
Booklist November 1999 Starred review
"Named with the Yiddish word for musician
and, since the Yiddish musical renascence, for Yiddish
music Klezmer! is his report on his journey. Sapoznik,
as founder of the contemporary klezmer band Kapelye and the
yearly Yiddish cultural institute KlezKamp, is a vital actor
in the klezmer story. If ever there was a perfect match between
author and subject, this is it. Sapoznik loves as well as
knows his stuff, and he describes klezmer development with
maximal affection as well as astute artistic evaluation. And
thereafter he gets personal, without ever emphasizing his
own importance at the expense of others involved in the current
The New York Times Monday August 28, 2000
the ideal person to write a history
a scholarly history spiced with sharp, amusing
Botstein, Conductor and Music Director, American Symphony
the colorful personal histories of klezmorim and the unlquely
Yiddish music they created into a broad historical tapestry,
rich in ethnic tradition and expansive in its legacy."
Peter Schickele (a.k.a. P.D.Q. Bach)
Sapoznik seems to know just about everything there is to know
about one of the world's liveliest musical traditionso Klezmer!
is voluminous but witty, full of memorable characters and
J. Hoberman, author of Bridge of Light:
Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds
one has done more than musician, archivist, record p~ducer,
teacher, organizer Henry Sapoznik to revitalize the klezmer
tradition. Now this tireless enthusiast has written the story
of Jewish popuIar music, and his detailed account at
once impressively researched and engagingly personal
is a kind of literary freylekhh."
Fyvush Finkel, Emmy Award-winning Yiddish
"Thank you for writing this wonderful book.
It is a great read! I could not put it down. It touched my
heart with lots of fond memories."
of 2000 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Music
of 2000 Association of Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)
Award for Outstanding Acheivement in Music History
Music From Old World to Our World has been issued
as companion CD by Yazoo Records (7017). The 22 tracks
offer a chronological overview (1912-1997) which documents
the diversity, audacity and enthusiasm which was Yiddish
popular culture at its height, its decline and its current
the Shanachie Web site:
Klezmer: From Old World to Our World
is the audio companion to the newly-published (MacMillan)
book of the same name by Henry Sapoznik, which traces
the chronological development of klezmer music through
the 19th and 20th Centuries. Sapoznik, a klezmer historian
and musician, has compiled the definitive collection
of klezmer and Yiddish classics, featuring many of the
centuries greatest performers, such as Dave Tarras,
Andy Statman, Naftule Brandweine and the Klezmatics.