Programme Notes – Klezmer (1993)

For unaccompanied violin

The term ‘Klezmer’ comes from the Hebrew ‘Kley Zemer’ referring to the instruments played by the Jews of Eastern Europe. Nowadays the musician, his instrument and the music he plays are covered by the one term ‘Klezmer.’ The origins of this music date back to the sixteenth century and are of Eastern European folk idiom filtered through Jewish ears and consciousness. In the last hundred years Klezmer music is best known through Jewish weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and at fairs and carnivals. The music has certain pungent characteristics in melody, harmony and rhythm, which is the starting point for this work. As is well known the violin is an instrument particularly suited to Jewish music and I have tried to capture the passion and directness of a musical language that was in integral part of the lives of my great-grandparents. Klezmer lasts about nine minutes.