Walter Zev Feldman is a leading researcher in both Ottoman Turkish and Jewish
music. During the 1970s he spearheaded the revival of klezmer music. Today he is a performer on the traditional klezmer dulcimer, the cimbal, and on the Ottoman lute, the tanbur. He has performed internationally with his group Khevrisa (“European Klezmer Music” Smithsonian Folkways), and with the Alexander Fiterstein Trio.
In 1985 Feldman received an NEH grant to translate the Ottoman music theory of the Moldavian Prince Demetrius Cantemir (ca. 1700), which led to
his classic book, Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition, and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire (Berlin, 1996), which is taught as a basic text worldwide. He contributed the “Ottoman Music” and “Klezmer Music” articles to the New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001). In 2004 he co-directed the successful application of the Mevlevi Dervishes of Turkey as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for UNESCO.
His current research interests include the relation of rhythmic cycle (usul) and melody in Ottoman music, and he was the keynote speaker in the conference ”Rhythmic Cycles and Structures in the Art Music of the Middle East,” held at the University of Münster (2014). He is a board member of the Corpus Musciae Ottomanicae (CMO) Project of the Wilhelm Westphalian University in Münster, where he was recently a fellow, working on the earliest manuscripts of the music of Tanburi Isak Fresco (d.1814).
His book Klezmer: Music, History and Memory, will be published this year by Oxford University Press. and he is preparing a new book, Untold Stories: Transnational Klezmer Music of Bessarabia and Historical Moldova, from Istanbul to America, utilizing field work and archival research in Moldova, Greece and Israel. He has just co-authored the Bibliography of East European Jewish Folk Music (with Michael Lukin) for Oxford University Press.
Feldman is also an authority on East European Jewish dance, forming part of his current research on the role of gesture in the performing arts, which he taught in the NYU Abu Dhabi core course “Gesture” from 2012 to 2014.
Walter Zev Feldman is Visiting Professor of Music at New York University Abu Dhabi, Director of the An-sky Institute for Traditional Jewish Expressive Culture at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (NYC), and Board Member of Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae (University of Münster).