Ray Musiker – Generations: A Living Musical Legacy

CTMD is excited to present Generations: A Living Musical Legacy, a series of videos of new compositions by legendary klezmer clarinetist Ray Musiker (b. 1926), performed with his son, renowned pianist/conductor Lee Musiker. Additionally, we have partnered with Dan Blacksberg’s Radiant Others Klezmer Podcast Series  to feature an exclusive new interview with Ray.

We are grateful to Lee Musiker for his work in coordinating this project, Cantor Danny Mendelson and Michael Winograd for video production/editing, and Dan Blacksberg for sound production/podcast.

Ray Musiker

Clarinetist/composer Ray Musiker is a leading figure in 20th-century klezmer music, the Yiddish-American music developed and performed by Jewish musicians in Eastern Europe and brought to the New World.

Ray at home (July 2019)

Ray is the fourth generation of a family with a historic lineage of legendary klezmer musicians. Born in 1926 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Ray plays the clarinet, saxophone and flute, is a composer and educator, having taught instrumental and private music for over 30 years. He has recorded, performed and toured extensively both in America and internationally. Ray has performed on Broadway with Mickey Katz and Joel Grey in Borscht Capades, Bagels & Yox and has produced, arranged, and performed on numerous klezmer recordings, including Terry Gibbs’ Jewish Melodies Go Jazz Time. He has also recorded numerous albums as a leader, including Tzena, Tzena, Jewish Wedding Dances, The New York Klezmer Ensemble, and Matai. In 1992, Ray received an award at the Krakow International Music Festival performing selections from his Matai album. In 1993, he was featured as a clarinet soloist on the Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio show. Ray’s music has appeared in several movie soundtracks including; Brighton Beach Memoirs, Joe’s Apartment and the award-winning 1997 documentary Tickle in the Heart.

This new documentary project, Generations- a Living Musical Legacy, focuses on Ray’s new liturgical music as performed and recorded by Cantor Daniel Mendelson and Lee, as well as his new instrumental pieces, performed by Ray and Lee. Generations… is hosted by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, produced by Ray’s son, Lee Musiker, with video recording/production by clarinetist/composer Michael Winograd. An interview with Ray on the popular Radiant Others podcast, hosted by trombonist/composer Dan Blacksberg, is being released simultaneously. Ray welcomes you to enjoy his music on the newly launched Ray Musiker YouTube channel.

Ray’ son Lee Musiker is a Grammy and Emmy award-winning pianist, conductor, music director and arranger/orchestrator/composer. He has collaborated with the premier artists in the classical, operatic, Broadway, jazz and pop music genres including; Joshua Bell, Tony Bennett, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, Michael Bublé, Kristin Chenoweth, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Eddie Daniels, Renée Fleming, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn Horne, Diana Krall, Jerry Lewis, Seth MacFarlane, Wynton Marsalis, Audra McDonald, Maureen McGovern, Bernadette Peters, Buddy Rich, Sting, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Mel Tormé and Dawn Upshaw. A Steinway Artist, Lee Musiker has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Orpheus, Atlanta, Cleveland, Hollywood Bowl, Philadelphia, San Francisco, London Symphony Orchestras; and the New York, Boston, Cincinnati and Philly Pops. Mr. Musiker has guest conducted the New York Philharmonic, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, National and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras. Lee was a guest on NPR’s Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired, and was featured in Steinway and Keyboard magazines. Mr. Musiker has served on the faculties of the Mannes School of Music, The New School, New York University, has given masterclasses at The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Program, Indiana University and was a visiting Guest Artist-in-Residence at the Tanglewood Music Center.

Generations: A Living Musical Legacy

We are excited to present Generations: A Living Musical Legacy, a video series documenting performances by klezmer clarinetist Ray Musiker, featuring Lee Musiker on piano.

Lee and Ray Musiker (July 2019)

Four of the tunes are new compositions by Ray. Additionally, Ray and Lee perform Sam’s Dream, a composition by Ray’s older brother Sam Musiker (1916-1964). Sam was one of America’s pre-eminent reedmen, performing with Gene Krupa’s orchestra, and was the son-in-law of yet another klezmer clarinet master, Dave Tarras.

Following the videos below, you can also listen to Dan Blacksberg’s extensive July 2019 interview with Ray for the Radiant Others Klezmer Podcast Series.









Listen to an exclusive July 2019 interview with Ray by Dan Blacksberg on the Radiant Others Klezmer Podcast Series here:


Ray Musiker shares family pictures with Michael Winograd and Dan Blacksberg
Klezmer clarinetists Michael Winograd and Ray Musiker pose with a picture of Sam Musiker
Cantor Danny Mendelson and Ray Musiker
The famed 1956 album featuring Dave Tarras with Sam and Ray Musiker
Ray Musiker’s 1991 album with his Nuklez Quartet featuring Lee Musiker on piano

Peter Rushefsky

Peter Rushefsky is the Executive Director of CTMD.