Moldova held a musical importance for Ashkenazic Jews much larger than the number of Jews actually living there would warrant. Even in Lithuania/Belarus musical terms derived from Wallachia/Moldova, “volikh” (in klezmer music) and “valakh” (in Hasidic music) were current. But this musical influence travelled in several directions, also involving Moldavian lautar (Gypsy) musicians, Greek and Turkish musicians in Istanbul. This mixture—attested since the 18th century—produced the popular dance forms known as kasap and hora in Turkish, hassapiko in Greek, bulgareasca in Romanian and bulgarish in Yiddish. During the early 20th century this style of dance music transformed klezmer music in America and also influenced the dance music of Greek Americans. This talk will attempt to explain why and how this transnational movement occurred. It will refer to both historical and musical documents from Istanbul, Iaşi and Ukraine, including records of the long-standing cattle tribute from Moldo-Wallachia to Istanbul, which produced the kasap dance of the Istanbul butchers’ guild. Among musical sources we will discuss the klezmer manuscript of the khazn Hirsch Weintraub of Dubno and the Moldavian Rouschitzki Collection from Iaşi, both dating from the 1830s.
Faculty: Walter Zev Feldman