Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2004 and 2007 by Fred Flaxman
Program 56
"Symphonic Klezmer"

MUSIC: Robinovitch: Tzigane from Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Finjan conducted by Bramwell Tovey [CBC Records SMCD 5212, track 5] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries and today's exciting episode, "Symphonic Klezmer." I'm your guide Fred Flaxman.

In this hour we'll listen to two klezmer-inspired orchestral works by two Canadian composers. These are sheer fun, so I think we're all in for a very good time.

MUSIC: Robinovitch: Tzigane ends

Let's start with the Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra, also known as the Suite pour ensemble Klezmer et Orchestre by Sid Robinovitch. Robinovitch is a native of Manitoba who received his doctorate in communications from the University of Illinois and taught social sciences at York University in Toronto. Since 1977 he has devoted himself to writing music. For this he studied at Indiana University and the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. He now composes and teaches in Winnipeg, Canada.

Robinovitch's works are rooted in folk material, but have a distinctly contemporary feel. He blends folk and popular music using a classical orchestra in a very appealing way, as we'll witness together now with the Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra.

The Suite consists of five pieces: Burlesque, Arioso, Galicienne, Tango and Tzigane. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the klezmer band Finjan are conducted by Bramwell Tovey in this CBC compact disc.

MUSIC: Robinovitch: Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Finjan, conducted by Bramwell Tovey [CBC Records SMCD 5212, tracks 1 - 5)

The Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra by Sid Robinovitch. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the klezmer band Finjan were conducted by Bramwell Tovey. This was a CBC Records compact disc.

You are listening to "Symphonic Klezmer" this hour on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

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Although we think of klezmer as a type of Eastern European Jewish music, the word is a corruption of the Hebrew, kle-zemer, which simply means musical instruments. In ancient Israel, secular song and instrumental music were prohibited after the destruction of the temple, except at weddings and on Purim, the harvest festival. So klezmer music is often upbeat and happy, although its minor key often gives it a slight melancholy edge.The musical elements generally associated with klezmer music include Hasidic-style songs and dances, Eastern European modes and marches, and Jewish folk songs.

Next on this hour of "Symphonic Klezmer" we turn to the music of another Canadian composer, Srul Irving Glick, who lived from 1934 until 2002.

Glick's piece is called The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite. It was written in 1998 and dedicated to his mother. The work was intended as a tribute to Glick's birthplace and to childhood memories.

The performers are one of Canada's most successful musical groups, Angèle Dubeau & La Pieta - an all-female string ensemble. Dubeau graduated from the Montreal Conservatory with a First Prize, and went on to study at the Julliard School of Music in New York. She is the winner of several important competitions and has appeared in concerts in more than 25 countries. She has recorded several CDs, and is one of the rare Canadian soloists in classical music to have sold 50,000 albums in one year.

I have watched Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà in person, and I have to tell you it was quite an experience. I'm afraid as much as I love listening to music on compact discs in the comfort of my own living room, La Pieta proves to me once again that live performances can be so much more exciting! I heard the group play a movement from The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite, along with several other pieces, and could hardly wait to obtain this recording. It's an Analekta compact disc.

MUSIC: Glick: The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite with Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà [Analekta, tracks 1, 2, 3 an 4]

Srul Irving Glick's The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite. You heard the extraordinary all-female French-Canadian ensemble Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà on an Analekta compact disc.

We have time for one more example of "Symphonic Klezmer" on this hour of Compact Discoveries. This time it's from an American composer, Paul Schoenfield, who was born in 1947. He wrote a piece called Klezmer Rondos, which I would have liked to have included in this hour, but I don't have 22 minutes left in which to do that.

However, he also wrote a five-movement suite called Vaudeville, and the third movement is called "Klezmers." This is a rather manic-depressive symphonic klezmer piece,. The first half is the depressive part, and the second half is very manic, as you'll soon hear. It is a concerto for a very unusual instrument - the piccolo trumpet. In this recording the New World Symphony is conducted by John Nelson. Wolfgang Basch plays the piccolo trumpet solos.

MUSIC: Schoenfield: "Klezmers" from Vaudeville; The New World Symphony conducted by John Nelson; Wolfgang Basch, piccolo trumpet [out of print Argo 440 212-2, track 7]

"Klezmers" from the Vaudeville suite by the American composer, Paul Schoenfield. Wolfgang Basch was the piccolo trumpet soloist with the New World Symphony conducted by John Nelson. This was on an Argo compact disc which, unfortunately, is out of print.

MUSIC: Robinovitch: "Tzigane" from Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Finjan conducted by Bramwell Tovey [CBC Records SMCD 5212, track 5] [under the following]

That concludes this Compact Discoveries hour devoted to "Symphonic Klezmer." I'm Fred Flaxman and I hope you enjoyed this music as much as I did!

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Inc. and a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

ANNOUNCER: This program was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts -- a great nation deserves great art; and by the Public Radio Exchange Reversioning Project. The Public Radio Exchange is at

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  2009 Compact Discoveries