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Re: In defense of the recorder

-- Budowitz Home Page:


whew! That was a classroom spanking! to your first lashing:

> First of all, the Yiddish word for 'guild' and the one that Hescheles might
> have used is "tsekh" and not "tekh".  This might seem like a minor point,
> but should we trust the accuracy of anything else you say after that?   It
> is one thing for someone to make an error in speech.  It is something else
> to make it writing.

I beg you passionately Reyzl, do NOT trust the accuracy of ANYTHING I say.
My work is plagued with mistakes -  in my research and in my music -
written, spoken and played, and I invite you to correct me on every account.
I mistrust my own sources and totally agree with you that everyone should be
questioned. You are absolutely right, Tsekh is with a tsadek and not a tet
as I heard it in my interview with Mr. Hescheles. Thanks for pointing that

Moving on, I think your comments on Mr. Hescheles pronounced him guilty
before trial. He is an old man who requires 3 therapy sessions a week for
his illness and can go no longer than 2 hours in an "interview." He never
asked for people to come to him, nor does he make any pretenses about the
correctness of his information. When I met him he was very wary of meeting
klezmer musicians in general and was very critical of the playing of pretty
much everyone he heard. He's a mensh, a musician, and a former journalist
and of course he makes mistakes when he remembers things. On the other hand,
his knowledge of minuscae does not come from a book. I'm sure Mr. Hescheles
has not read the book you mention as the 1965 source for your information on
guilds, Mark Wischnitzer's "A History of Jewish Crafts and Guilds." But he
CAN tell you what day of the month the guild convened, its statutes,
structure and the gubernyes it governed. Now, you as well as all of us know,
that if we are going to mistrust "spoken" word entirely, does that mean we
should place all our trust in the "written" word? Shall we conclude from the
fact  that Wischnitzer cites less than one handful of music guilds in his
book, that Mr. Hescheles' information is unreliable because it:

a) is not found in print
b) comes from an individual witness with no living corroborative sources?

Admittedly, it is very easy to blow away the entire field of klezmer
research. All of us in the field know that to be able to corraborate the
information we get from one living source is like trying to find matching
snowflakes. Still, the process of reconstruction should be perennial, and
even books with flaws should be considered as a brave step toward this,
especially if they are not written in German. Bad humor aside, Henry's book,
and even more so his tenacity in re-building the klezmer microcosm should be
praised first, then chewed on for its inaccuracies, and I think Henry has
invited you to do that. Of course there are going to be mistakes, and they
have an important function. If there weren't misrepresentations, we would
find ourselves in an iron-clad theocratic state with no possibility for
mobility. Amen ve amen... Josh

PS, as to the clarinet in Poland, I am including a portion (thematically
accordion-centered) of some interviews I've done with Poldek Koslowski, in
which the clarinet in Polish Galitsia is touched upon. I've included the
whole portion for context. Mistrust this as well. It's only one Polish man's
atomic perspective with no corroboration...

Interview Horowitz/Koslowski:

Horowitz: When you played accordion, what kind of accordion was it?

Koslowski: The first accordion that came to Galtsia was the piano accordion
in 1935. I also played one in the concentration camp in a group with 7
men...they were drunk all the time, the Gestapo. They made us play:

 Es geht alles vorüber,
 es geht alles vorbei,
 nach jeden Dezember,
 kommt wieder ein Mai.


 All will be over
 all goes away
 after every December
 comes once again May

It was cynical. When they heard the last line, they cackled. So we only
played Jewish music among ourselves. They didn¹t know what kind of music we
were playing. We played when we had tsuris.

Horowitz: Was the button accordion used in Jewish kapelyes in Poland?

Koslowski: The button accordion was usually associated with French and
Russian music. It was connected with clarinet and tsimbl [dulcimer] music.

Horowitz: So when the piano accordion came in 1936, Jews prefered it to the
button accordion?

Koslowski: Yes, almost all the Jews after the war played piano accordion.
[Before the war] there were some button players, but almost all played piano
[later]. Jews had in their group, an Eb clarinet -  the small one -  a small
tsimbalo carried here [around the neck], bass and secunda violin. The
secunda violin didn¹t play obligato, he played the whole harmony - um-cha,
um-cha, um-cha, um-cha. He played rhythm here [against the chin] -
um-tata-dum-tum, um-tata-dum-tum...The second violinist did not call himself
secunda, but insisted on being called secundist! The first was called
Stehgeiger [standing violinist] because he was the one who stood when he
played. In this group the button accordion fit in well. He played the
harmony. One group played for the royalty [the count].

Horowitz: Did he play figuration as well?

Koslowski: Sure, and he played fills and he imitated the pizzicato violin
like this....the accordion was the second concertmaster. Most of the Jewish
accordion players at that time were not that good. The accordion was new
then. The players asked, what should I do with this thing?

Horowitz: Why is it, that throughout all of the provinces of greater Poland
before the war, there were 3-row button players playing Polish music, yet
Jews didn¹t play it?

Koslowski: Because there were tsimbl players everywhere! Tsimbl, tsimbalo,
tsimbalista in every corner!

Horowitz: What happened to all the tsimbl players? Did they change over to
the accordion after the war?

Koslowski: They didn¹t change over to accordion. They died. All of them were
dead by the end of the war.

---------------------- jewish-music (at) shamash(dot)org ---------------------+

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