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RE: In defense of the recorder (ammendment)
- From: Reyzl Kalifowicz-Waletzky <reyzl...>
- Subject: RE: In defense of the recorder (ammendment)
- Date: Sun 26 Mar 2000 01.56 (GMT)
>On reflection, I think I might have been mistaken in the use of the word
>"guild". I think the operative words used in conversation to me were
>"Klezmer families". I was told that, in other parts of europe, Jewish
>musicians who were not members of Klezmer families did play music in
>competition with the Klezmer families. Leon Schwartz (from Bukovina?) was
>cited as an example.
I just came back to my computer after writing a response to you late last
night (see my previous post) and I am glad to find that you are taking back
the word "guild". Klezmer families makes much more sense.
>But that in Poland the Klezmer families had much more control.
Ok, but now you are again taking information about klezmer families having
control in one location and implying that their control was spread over
larger geographic territories and you have no information which would let
you do that. It is irresponsible and sloppy to do that. Whatever one
power one musical family had in one city or set of small towns, we are not
talking about a mafia "family" with a far-reaching network of ruthless
bullies. You can not paint the picture this way. Again, whatever Mr.
Hescheles may say about his band or his town may or may reflect on power
and conditions of bands in other towns.
>Then I suppose it would be valid to say that someone between him and the
>spoke to over-generalized, since he couldn't have known what was going on
>all over Poland, or in all the towns and villages.
Correct. Not only would Mr. Hescheles not know what musicians in other
towns were doing, but even if such a national newsletter existed, let's
say, which it didn't, there would be no way for any musical 'association',
'khevre', 'union', 'guild', 'family' or whatever, to enforce their
particular set of rules outside of their own local territory or domain.
Other musicians may mimic a certain successful sound or adopt a
convincing new socio-political value in the age of rising Jewish nationa
lism and the movement toward inwardly-turned Judaism in Poland after 1905.
For example, following the steps of Jewish writers and cultural leaders of
the time in the period of rising Jewish nationalism, Jewish musicians and
artists may have also chosen to avoid the use of any brass sound, a sound
closely associated with the ruthless czar's army or, from 1914-1920, the
cruel, encroaching Germany army. But all of this would have been voluntary
and self-imposed rulings rather than ones imposed by political groups
outside of their own political domain. Remember that Jews were slaughtered
from 1914-1920 because they were thought to be German, by the local Poles
and Jews had to avoid all association with Germany and most especially, a
German military sound in order to survive.
>But that would not invalidate my original point, which was that tastes
>change regarding suitability of choice of instruments for klezmer music.
For sure, taste changed in the age of rising Jewish nationalism, but you
were claiming that taste changed because musical guilds, now musical
families, enforced the change. And both statements are invalid and
>?And not only was there a time when there were no brass or clarinet being
>played by eastern european Jews,
Why are you now making this general statement? I certainly can not make
such a generalization, neither can you, or Mr. Hescheles. I doubt that any
rigorous scholar would make such a general statement either.
>and the flute (much closer to the Recorder
>in character) was being played,
We know that the flute was played by klezmer. As for which kind of
recorder, fife, shepherds flute, etc., etc., was played in which territory
has yet to be established. I have not seen such a map but it is possible
that the next set of volumes of the _Language and Culture Atlas of
Ashkenazic Jewry_, housed at Columbia University, will give us this
information. I am sorry that I remember the musical instrument-related
questions they asked the 600 informants about which instruments the local
musicians in their town played. It is easy to find out, but I just don't
but that it seems there was also a time
>when, at least in Poland, the introduction of brass, and even of clarinet,
>might not have been all that welcome amongst the musicians. Yet today,
>dominate the genre.
When you speak of "turn of the century Poland", it is critical to remember,
that the Yiddish language community was spread over many national
territories, e.g., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, White Russia, Estonia,
Rumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc., etc, etc. Musical instrumentation,
repertoire, style, varied from one territory to another depending on what
was locally available or popular.
You can not make statements about Jewish life in Poland without knowing
that Poland changed hands several times in the last 300 years and that the
map of Poland changed three times in the 20th century. Every time we talk
of "Poland", you have to identify the period you are talking about but we
are not talking about the identical territory. E.g, the map of Poland
before 1918 is different from the map of Poland 1918-1939. So, the first
question someone may ask you is which Poland are you talking about? Are
you including Eastern and Western Galicia in your statements? Are you
making statements about the use of German recorders which would have been
available in Western Poland and Western Galicia and claiming that they were
also known and popular in formerly Lithuanian or eastern Polish territory?
You have to know Polish history and geographic changes to make your
statements because statement about what was founds in Eastern Galicia in
1910 has no relevance to Kovno or Brajnsk. There are certainly enough
Jewish illiterate in the current world and on this list that will accept
your statement at face value and which Jewish scholars on this list will
not even bother to comment on because the depth of ignorance such facile
statements reveal are not worthy of bother. I can tell you that so many
irresponsible statements appear on this list that the few real scholars who
do read this list have given up commenting, because the job is just too
great. All you can possibly say is to tell some people is to go study -
exactly what they don't want to hear and then they will claim that you are
only arrogant for suggesting it. Who needs that? These are the same
people who read Henry Sapoznik's book and just because they read there
things they have not seen elsewhere, they are convinced that he is a real
scholar and will even write wonderful reviews of his book. Ask any Jewish
music scholar who knows the field and the reviews are consistently,
devastatingly negative, both the first and second half. And who the hell
wants to start pinpointing all the errors, sloppiness, misleading
statements, etc.? No list subscriber who is in the know wants to even
touch that subject on this list, and this is someone who worked at YIVO and
had the archive readily open to him. I will leave this discussion for
>at least in Poland, the introduction of brass, and even of clarinet,
>might not have been all that welcome amongst the musicians. Yet today,
>they dominate the genre.
They dominate [present tense] the genre in Poland? Aren't you really
talking about America and the influence that kind of klezmer music had on
Eastern European territory in the post-War years?
If you want your statements to be taken seriously, you have to speak with
precision and clear geographic and chronological demarcations because no
general statement can be applied to Poland in the way that you did in that
amended paragraph. Whatever discouragement there was of certain musical
instruments by musicians was a symptom of a larger cultural movement and
not the cause of the cultural movement. The story for why popular taste
in Poland and/or Eastern Europe changed at the turn of the century and
again after World War I has nothing to do with which instruments the
musical khevres encouraged. It is a multifaceted story and can not be
reduced to one paragraph.
I will now read what Josh Horowitz wrote.
From: Matt Jaffey [SMTP:mjaffey2 (at) mum(dot)edu]
Sent: Friday, March 24, 2000 12:20 PM
To: World music from a Jewish slant
Subject: RE: In defense of the recorder (ammendment)
On reflection, I think I might have been mistaken in the use of the word
"guild". I think the operative words used in conversation to me were
"Klezmer families". I was told that, in other parts of europe, Jewish
musicians who were not members of Klezmer families did play music in
competition with the Klezmer families. Leon Schwartz (from Bukovina?) was
cited as an example. But that in Poland the Klezmer families had much more
control. Furthermore, while Klezmer families elsewhere (e.g. Ukraine) were
adopting brass instruments, in Poland they were keeping them and all but
the best of the clarinetists out of the kapelye (the words "Warsaw theater"
suggested by Reyzl never came up). Mr. Hescheles himself was not from a
Klezmer family, but through unusual circumstances was invited to lead a
As I said, I got this information indirectly. But let us suppose for the
sake of discussion, that Mr. Hescheles actually said these things. Then I
suppose it would be valid to say that someone between him and the person I
spoke to over-generalized, since he couldn't have known what was going on
all over Poland, or in all the towns and villages.
But that would not invalidate my original point, which was that tastes
change regarding suitability of choice of instruments for klezmer music.
And not only was there a time when there were no brass or clarinet being
played by eastern european Jews, and the flute (much closer to the Recorder
in character) was being played, but that it seems there was also a time
when, at least in Poland, the introduction of brass, and even of clarinet,
might not have been all that welcome amongst the musicians. Yet today, they
dominate the genre.
>At 05:42 PM 3/24/2000 -0500, you wrote:
>>>Guilds held control over the composition of kapelyes.
>>What? Who? Where? Maybe music directors in the Warsaw theater made
>>formal exclusions, and this still needs to be checked if its true, but no
>>such guilds existed in towns and villages. You can not find take one
>>little fact and rip it out of its context to make general, sweeping
>>statements this way.
>This was not one little fact, and it wasn't ripped out of context. But I
>will tell you the context in which I heard it. I was suggesting to someone
>who communicates with Zev Feldman that Zev might be relying a bit too
>heavily on the testimony of one person (Mr. Hescheles), for his ideas
>what was going on in the Polish klezmer scene early in the 20th c. The
>response was, yes, but what Mr. Hescheles has to say is so very valuable,
>because, amongst other reasons, he talks about subjects that no one else
>has ever talked about - he is filling in gaps in knowledge etc. etc. And
>one example given was this notion that brass and all but the best
>clarinetists were being kept rigorously out of the kapelyes in Poland.
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- RE: In defense of the recorder (ammendment),