New York Klezmer in the Early Twentieth Century: A Special Book Release Event!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

To order Joel Rubin’s new book, New York Klezmer in the Early Twentieth Century: The Music of Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, go to this link: Use the discount code BB870 for a 35% discount. Starting August 20, there will also be an ePDF and ePUBs available for $24.95.

Presented by the American Society for Jewish Music, the Ashkenaz Festival, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the UCLA Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music, and Yiddish New York,

The music of clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras is iconic of American klezmer music. Their legacy has had an enduring impact on the development of the popular world music genre.

Since the 1970s, klezmer music has become one of the most popular world music genres, at the same time influencing musical styles as diverse as indie rock, avant-garde jazz, and contemporary art music. Klezmer is the celebratory instrumental music that developed in the Jewish communities of eastern Europe over the course of centuries and was performed especially at weddings. Brought to North America in the immigration wave in the late nineteenth century, klezmer thrived and developed in the Yiddish-speaking communities of New York and other cities during the period 1880-1950.

No two musicians represent New York klezmer more than clarinetists Naftule Brandwein (1884-1963) and Dave Tarras (1897-1989). Born in eastern Europe to respected klezmer families, both musicians had successful careers as performers and recording artists in New York. Their legacy has had an enduring impact and helped to spur the revival of klezmer since the 1970s.

Using their iconic recordings as a case study, New York Klezmer in the Early Twentieth Century looks at the inner workings of klezmer dance music, from its compositional aspects to the minutiae of style. Making use of historical and ethnographic sources, the book places the music within a larger social and cultural context stretching from eastern Europe of the nineteenth century to the United States of the present.

Joel Rubin, Ph.D. is Associate Professor and Director of Music Performance at the University of Virginia. He has been a leading figure in the klezmer world for over 30 years, as a performer, scholar, author and educator. He collaborates regularly with Veretski Pass, was a founder of Brave Old World, and has led the Joel Rubin Ensemble since 1994. Rubin has worked closely with traditional musicians such as the Epstein Brothers, Sid Beckerman and Moussa Berlin. He has recorded numerous CDs and published extensively, including a new book, New York Klezmer in the Twentieth Century: The Music of Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras (U. Rochester Press).

Mark Slobin, Ph.D. is the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music Emeritus at Wesleyan University and the author or editor of many books on Afghanistan and Central Asia, Eastern European Jewish music, film music, and ethnomusicology theory, two of which have received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award: Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World and Tenement Songs: Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants. A member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Slobin has served as President of both the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Asian Music. In the late 1970s and early 80s Slobin served as the academic adviser to Zev Feldman and Andy Statman’s NEA-funded project with Dave Tarras through the Balkan Arts Center (now Center for Traditional Music and Dance) that helped to jumpstart the international klezmer revitalization. Slobin is the author of the recent book Motor City Music: A Detroiter Looks Back about ethnic music in his hometown of Detroit.

Photo of Joel Rubin by Lloyd Wolf (

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