Master's Thesis: "MIXING IN TOO MUCH JEWISH: AMERICAN KLEZMORIM IN NEW YORK CITY FROM 1950-1970"
Abstract: In secular Jewish American music, the 1950s through 1970s are often viewed by scholars and musicians as a period of discontinuity. Building on Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s (2002) call for a greater understanding of music from this time, I show that the work of second generation klezmorim, the children of immigrant klezmorim, maintained the traditional characteristics of their predecessors and foreshadowed the creative innovations of the klezmer revitalization beginning in the late 1970s. Drawing from recordings of select second generation klezmorim- Ray and Sammy Musiker, Sidney Beckerman, and Marty Levitt- and from interviews with Pete Sokolow, Dave Levitt, Margot Leverett, and other contemporary klezmorim, I will present the repertoire of the selected performers that demonstrates the trends in mid-century Jewish instrumental music. The mid-century klezmorim did not merely preserve a waning tradition, they primed the scene for the changes to follow, through the continued development of the bulgar genre, incorporation of popular American dance styles, more rapidly changing and complex harmonic progressions, and increased use chromaticism and the major scale. These klezmorim inhabited an audiotopia, a social space and time of musical contradiction, where the seemingly opposite binaries of Jewish cultural tradition and American popular culture, religious and profane, English and Yiddish coexisted. Their careers, repertoire, and musical advancements are evidence of the shifting sensibilities in Jewish music and the increasing fluidity of Jewish American identity throughout the twentieth century.
“Klezmer in Mid-Century America” by Clara Byom The Klezmer Institute, Edited by Christina Crowder Forthcoming - August 2019 Introduction to Dave Levitt’s “The Levitt Legacy Klezmer Folio, Volume 1” The Klezmer Institute, Edited by Christina Crowder December 2018
“Local Treasure: Joe Aaron and Milwaukee’s Klezmer Heritage” With Pete Rushefsky, Center for Traditional Music and Dance, The Clarinet February/March 2017
“Mixing in Too Much Jewish: A Case Study of the Musiker Brothers” Proceedings of the Yiddish Historically Informed Performance Conference at Yiddish Summer Weimar 2016 Forthcoming
"Is the Repertoire of Sammy Musiker the Real Jewish Jazz?: Expressions of Jewish American Identity in the Mid-Twentieth Century" Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Albuquerque, NM, November 15-17th, 2018
“Mixing in Too Much Jewish: American Jewish Identity and the Klezmer Clarinet Repertoire of the Mid-Twentieth Century” International Clarinet Association Research Competition at ClarinetFest 2018 Ostend, Belgium, July 8-12, 2018 “Mixing in Too Much Jewish: American Klezmorim of the 1950s-1970s” Los Alamos Jewish Community Center, Los Alamos, NM, June 20, 2018
“Mixing in Too Much Jewish: American Klezmorim of the 1950s-1970s” Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM, April 23, 2018
“Mixing in Too Much Jewish: American Klezmorim of the 1950s-1970s” Congregation Sons of Abraham, La Crosse, WI, October 22, 2017
“Krooked Knaidel: Jewish-American Identity and the Repertoire of Marty Levitt” Society for Ethnomusicology, Southeast and Caribbean Regional Conference Charleston, South Carolina, March 4, 2017
Guest Lecture on Klezmer Music World Music Class, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, March 3, 2017
“Mixing in Too Much Jewish: American Klezmorim of the 1950s-1970s” KlezmerQuerque Lunch-n-Learn, Albuquerque, NM, February 19, 2017 “Mixing in Too Much Jewish: A Case Study of the Musiker Brothers” Yiddish Historically Informed Performance Conference at Yiddish Summer Weimar Weimar, Germany, July 21, 2016
“The Forgotten Klezmer Repertoire of Eastern European Jewish Weddings” Shared Knowledge Conference Presentation, University of New Mexico, April 24, 2015