Klezmer is Jewish folk music. It is the music that the Jewish people sang, played and danced to throughout the hundreds of years that they lived in Eastern Europe: in the countries of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Rumania. It is also the music that the Jewish people brought with them when they emigrated to America, mostly beginning in the 1880’s. Almost all of America’s Jewish families emigrated from Eastern Europe between 1880 and 1950.
Klezmer is the Yiddish language term for musician and is composed of two Hebrew words: “Kley” and “Zemer” which mean “instrument of song.” The soulful melodies and spirited rhythms of Klezmer music transcend its Jewish folk roots. Today, Klezmer music is performed and enjoyed by people of all cultures.