By Pete Sokolow
Klezmer music was originally an eastern European folk genre,
heavily influenced by other existing native folk genres
endemic to that area, i.e. Roumanian, Russian, Polish, Ukranian,
Hungarian, Bulgarian, with a strong dose of Gypsy.
this music particulary individual is that it was filtered through
Jewish ears and consciousness. The tradition of the khazn
(cantor) and the nigun was practically inborn for the Jewish
musician, a personage growing up in an ethnically segregated,
religion-centered society. It must also be remembered that we are
dealing, in essence, with utilitarian, dance-oriented music.
and sophistication did, indeed, begin to appear in klezmer music
by the late 19th early to mid-20th centuries, aided in no small measure
by the development of the phonograph record, but equally by urbanization,
as large numbers of "shtetl" Jews, including many klezmorim,
moved to the cities, both in Europe and America. The resulting contact
with concert music, European theater and salon music, and American
ragtime/jazz and popular songs, gave polish and some smoothness to
the old folkstyle, and formed, for better or worse, a kind of second
and third-generation klezmer music for a more modern era.