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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 19c. (plural klezmorim); originally, "an itinerant East European Jewish professional musician," from Hebrew kley zemer, literally "vessels of song," thus "musical instruments."


n. 1 (context countable English) A Jewish folk musician. 2 (context uncountable English) A type of popular Jewish folk music especially associated with Ashkenazi cultures.


Klezmer ( Yiddish: כליזמר or קלעזמער (klezmer), pl.: כליזמרים (klezmorim) — instruments of music) is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi 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. In the United States the genre evolved considerably as Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who arrived between 1880 and 1924, met and assimilated American jazz. During the initial years after the klezmer revival of the 1970s, this was what most people knew as klezmer, although in the current century musicians have begun paying more attention to the "original" pre-jazz traditions as revivalists including Josh Horowitz, Yale Strom, and Bob Cohen have spent years doing field research in Eastern/Central Europe. Additionally, later immigrants from the Soviet Union such as German Goldenshtayn took their surviving repertoires to the United States and Israel in the 1980s.

Compared with most other European folk music styles, little is known about the history of klezmer music, and much of what is said about it must be seen as conjecture.

Klezmer (film)

Klezmer is a 2015 Polish war- drama film written and directed by Piotr Chrzan. It was screened in the Venice Days section at the 72nd edition of the Venice Film Festival.

Usage examples of "klezmer".

Saul whistles a klezmer tune between snapping pictures with film that has been in his camera since the Iranian hostage crisis.

The reception kicks off with a klezmer band doing their bloop-yatty-bloop, and Sophie and Max are hauled up on chairs for the Jewish wedding version of musical chairs.

Mercedes and Ralph play happy-sad klezmer music on piano and clarinet while Mr.

I scribbled down the name of the restaurant where the klezmer band was to play.

The klezmer concert was taking place on a barge in the canal that had been secured to the quay.

The klezmer music somersaulted in the street, bumped up the stone wall, swan-dived into the canal.

The Kletzmatics, but are there really bands called The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band and The Klez Dispensers?

The Manischevitz Malaga kept flowing, the klezmer band kept playing, the deli platters never ran out.

The Klezmer, he noted, had stopped playing and was standing off to the side, stiff and silent.

Then, the Klezmer resumed his music, and the slaves returned to their picking.

It had probably surprised him more than it had the Klezmer, especially considering that his own dinner or lack of it was on the line.