Old Klezmer dance music - Romanian Orchestra, 1912
Klezmer (Yiddish כליזמר or קלעזמער, pl כליזמר,כליזמרים, from Hebrew כלי זמר — instruments of music) is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim, the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations. The genre has its origins in Eastern Europe.
Klezmer instrument choices were based, by necessity, on an instrument's portability. Music was required for several parts of the wedding ceremony, which took place in different rooms or courtyards, and the band had to relocate quickly from space to space. Further, klezmorim were usually itinerant musicians, who moved from town to town for work. Therefore, instruments held in the hands (clarinet, violin, trumpet) or supported by a neck or shoulder strap (accordion, cimbalom, drum) were favored over those that rested on the ground (cello, bass violin), or needed several people to move (piano).
In its historic form, klezmer was live music designed to facilitate dancing. Hence, musicians adjusted the tempo as dancers tired or better dancers joined in. Vocal songs could drag to a near-halt during a particularly sad part, picking up slowly, and eventually bursting into happy song once more. Like other musicians of their time, and many modern Jazz performers, early klezmorim did not rigidly follow the beat. Often they slightly led or trailed it, giving a lilting sound.
The Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków (Polish: Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej w Krakowie, Yiddish: ייִדישער קולטור־פֿעסטיוואַל אין קראָקע)
The Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków (Polish: Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej w Krakowie, Yiddish: ייִדישער קולטור־פֿעסטיוואַל אין קראָקע) is an annual cultural event organized since 1988 in the once Jewish district of Kazimierz (part of Kraków) by the Jewish Culture Festival Society headed by Janusz Makuch, a self-described meshugeneh, fascinated with all things Jewish.
Each festival is held in late June or early July and takes nine days, from Saturday to Sunday. During that time concerts, exhibitions, plays, lectures, workshops, tours, etc. are organized. The two most important concerts are: the inaugural concert on the first Sunday, and the final concert on the last Saturday of the festival. The former usually takes place in one of seven synagogues of Kazimierz and features cantoral music; the latter is always held outdoors, in Ulica Szeroka, the main street of the Jewish part of Kazimierz, and features klezmer music. In between there are many more concerts, usually with some variations of klezmer music.
The workshops provide an occasion to learn about traditional Jewish cuisine, dance, music, calligraphy and other aspects of Jewish culture. More about Jewish culture, as well as about topics related to the Holocaust, is taught at numerous lectures. Exhibitions of Jewish art, particularly paper-cut, are also organized. The program of the festival also includes tours of the synagogues and cemeteries of Kazimierz as well as the former Nazi-era Kraków Ghetto in the nearby district of Podgórze. During the festival Gentiles are also invited to watch or participate in Jewish prayers at the synagogue.
Jewish Culture Festival brings together artists of Jewish culture from all over the world - music bands, soloists, choirs, jazz musicians and dance teachers. The festival promotes a whole variety of different styles of Jewish music: synagogue song, hasidic, classical, Jewish folk and -- very popular in Krakow nowadays -- klezmer. For the Poles this event is a way of promotion of Jewish culture and paying a homage to the community that used to live in Poland, although many Jews were reportedly offended by the commercialization of Polish Jewish culture. "Others argue that there is something deeper taking place in Poland as the country heals from the double wounds of Nazi and Communist domination."
It is one of Poland's major annual cultural events and one of the biggest festivals of Jewish culture in the world. Artists and entertainers usually associated with the festival include: Benzion Miller, Yaakov Stark, David Krakauer, Frank London, Leopold Kozłowski, Michael Alpert, Theodore Bikel, Paul Brody and many others. Jewish dances are led by Steven Weintraub..
Zu di akufes - Jewrejskij taniec (Jewish Dance) - Rumunskij Orkiestr pod upr. kapelmeistra W.Bielfa, Bucuresti (Romanian Orchestra directed by W.Bielf from Bucharest) Syrena Grand Rekord 1912 (Polish, accoustic recording)
Polish folk music was collected in the 19th century by Oskar Kolberg, as part of a wave of Polish national revival. With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous of the state ensembles are Mazowsze and Śląsk, both of which still perform. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles. There were more authentic state-supported groups, such as Słowianki, but the Communist sanitized image of folk music made the whole field seem unhip to young audiences, and many traditions dwindled rapidly.
Polish dance music, especially the mazurka and polonaise, were popularized by Frederick Chopin, and they soon spread across Europe and elsewhere. These are triple time dances, while five-beat forms are more common in the northeast and duple-time dances like the krakowiak come from the south. The polonaise comes from the French word for Polish to identify its origin among the Polish aristocracy, who had adapted the dance from a slower walking dance called chodzony. The polonaise then re-entered the scene and became an integral part of Polish music.
Poland's five national dances
(Mazur, Polonez, Kujawiak, Krakowiak, Waltz), as well as modern dance, contemporary dance and ballet are all widely performed today throughout the Polonia community.