American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots

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Mark Slobin
University of California Press, 2002 - Music - 245 pages
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Klezmer, the Yiddish word for a folk instrumental musician, has come to mean a person, a style, and a scene. This musical subculture came to the United States with the late-nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Although it had declined in popularity by the middle of the twentieth century, this lively music is now enjoying recognition among music fans of all stripes. Today, klezmer flourishes in the United States and abroad in the world music and accompany Jewish celebrations. The outstanding essays collected in this volume investigate American klezmer: its roots, its evolution, and its spirited revitalization.

The contributors to American Klezmer include every kind of authority on the subject--from academics to leading musicians--and they offer a wide range of perspectives on the musical, social, and cultural history of klezmer in American life. The first half of this volume concentrates on the early history of klezmer, using folkloric sources, records of early musicians unions, and interviews with the last of the immigrant musicians. The second part of the collection examines the klezmer "revival" that began in the 1970s. Several of these essays were written by the leaders of this movement, or draw on interviews with them, and give firsthand accounts of how klezmer is transmitted and how its practitioners maintain a balance between preservation and innovation.

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Introduction Mark Slobin
A Brief History Hankus Netsky
The Klezmer in Jewish Philadelphia 191570
Ben Bazyler a European
The Transformation
Sounds of Sensibility Barbara KirshenblattGimblett
Marion Jacobson
How We Traveled from Obscurity
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About the author (2002)

Mark Slobin is Professor of Music at Wesleyan University and author of several books on Jewish and Central European music, including Tenement Songs: Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants (1992) and Exploring the Klezmer World (2000).

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