"The Klezmer as Mediator in Ashkenazic Culture: Fusion and Choice" with Walter Feldman

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 5:00pm - 6:15pm
Claire Fagin Hall, Room 118, 418 Curie Blvd

Emerging in 16th century Prague, the klezmer became a central cultural feature of the largest transnational Jewish community of modern times - the Ashkenazim of Eastern Europe. Much of the musical and choreographic history of the Ashkenazim is embedded in the klezmer repertoire, which functioned as a kind of non-verbal communal memory. Based on Max Weinreich’s linguistic characterization of Yiddish as a “fusion language,” klezmer music should be viewed as a “fusion music.” This fusion implies both the contingencies of history and a high degree of cultural choice exercised by the Jews in Eastern Europe. By including musical elements of the synagogue liturgy along with early West European dance music, Baroque music and Ottoman Turkish music—the klezmorim ensured that their music would be positioned between the secular and the religious poles, and between the East and the West.     

Walter Zev Feldman is a leading researcher in both Ottoman and Ashkenazic music. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Music at NYU Abu Dhabi, Director of the Ansky Institute for Jewish Expressive Culture, and board member of the Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae at the WWU in Münster, Germany. During the mid-1970s he and Andy Statman studied with Dave Tarras and were two of the creators of the klezmer revival. Their 1979 recording Jewish Klezmer Music became a classic. He co-founded the Khevrisa ensemble with Steven Greenman—their CD European Klezmer Music was issued by Smithsonian-Folkways in 2000. His new book Klezmer: Music, History and Memory is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

This is the 31st Annual Joseph Alexander Colloquium, sponsored by the Joseph Alexander Foundation & the Mackler Family. Co-sponsored with the Jewish Studies Program.

Free and open to the public. No RSVP necessary. For more information: E-Mail jsp-info@sas.upenn.edu or Call 215-898-6654. 

Campus map for Fagin Hall: Click here

Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
215-898-6654 / 215-573-6026 fax / jsp-info@sas.upenn.edu