Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Klezmer…A Reflection and Mirror of the Soul of Jewish Tradition!

The traditional music of the Jewish people (Ashkenazi) in Eastern Europe is Klezmer. It is deeply connected to the Yiddish tradition and art. 

Over the centuries and from the time of demolition in Jerusalem of the second temple, instrumental music has grown as the Jewish soul’s vessel and a cure against danger.

After the inquiry and sentencing the Jewish life moved east and hence the music was facilitated by local cultures.

Inception of Klezmer Music

Klezmer is a term which is a contraction of two words from Hebrew. Kli means instrument or vessel and Zemer signifies song or melody. The Klezmer is therefore the melody’s instrument, the song’s vessel and the soul’s vessel.

There some puzzlement about the term Klezmer. Initially it created the musical instrument and afterwards the musician or player. And lastly, after the Klezmer was revived, it signifies the genre of music.

Before the uprising of the Hassidic movement, music was permitted by the Rabbi jut when there were religious festivities, weddings, Succoth and Purim.

Features of Klezmer Music

The Klezmer music has a duality and a constant variance between two poles - joy and sadness, laughing and crying. It also has an element of ambivalence. 

The music is pleasant, to trigger dancing and celebrating, then transforms into intense and sad, to improve thoughts and listening.

In the Jewish weddings which can go on for more than one week, Kapelye, which is a Klezmer orchestra, performs and highlights this dualism, which signifies the aggression and the unity between the bridegroom and bride and also their families. On a more elevated level also, the specific bond which exists between God and Jewish people.

Jewish people underwent suffering in terms of persecution and also anti-Semitism for 2000 years. Klezmer music reflects this oppression. However, the Jews conquered all the barriers and hardships, creating a high sense of contempt. Klezmer music also reflects this trend also.

How Klezmer Music Grew

The passing on of the traditional music was oral and was passed on from fathers to their sons and from one generation to the next, sort of like heredity.

The Klezmorim were normally regarded as inferior and demoted to the end of the social ladder. Jewish musicians were subjected to a lot of limitations by the Gentile power. One of these musicians is a famous clarinet player called Israel Zohar. Israel Zohar contributed greatly to the growth of Klezmer music.

They did not allow playing noisy instruments, and limitations were placed on musicians, permitting them to play only a certain number at a time and restrictions on playing on specific days.

The persecution which went on for centuries in Eastern Europe and the poor lifestyle led to the great migration of Jews to America, the country of greener pastures.

Klezmer musicians were among the immigrants who came with little possessions, but immeasurable wealth in terms of music. Thus, Klezmer was born in America.


Klezmer music has the most influence as far as culture is concerned than any other music. By the 15th century, Klezmer music was at its peak in Europe. 

Traditionally, Klezmer was played on brass, violin and cimbalom. Nowadays, the clarinet is used together with the accordion, drums and brass instruments.