Based on the linguistic theories of Max Weinreich for the Yiddish language, klezmer is 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. The elements of this musical fusion were both constant and flexible since the inception of the klezmer repertoire in the early 17th century until the middle of the 20th century. By including musical elements of the synagogue liturgy among the basic stocks of the fusion–which included also 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. In these musical choices they were unique among all other Jewish communities of modern times. These choices also sharply differentiated them from their non-Jewish neighbors in Eastern Europe.
Faculty: Walter Zev Feldman