web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Andy Statman: Klezmer Is Finished

Andy Statman no longer needs Klezmer music the way he used to.

Andy Statman no longer needs Klezmer music the way he used to.
Photo Credit: Promotional image

Andy Statman, one of the foremost Klezmer musicians in the world, knows that the time of Klezmer has passed.

“Each music has its point,” He explained over the phone while working at a Mandolin camp in California. “[Klezmer] is still alive, but in many ways it doesn’t really represent a living community. While it’s still alive and it’s great music and people enjoy it… It’s not a reflection of the time.”

At 62, Statman was the recipient of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in June for his work in bluegrass and Klezmer music. As part of the fellowship, the nation’s highest recognition for traditional and folk art,  he will receive a one-time, $25,000 grant. He has been hailed by The New Yorker as an “American visionary” and by the New York Times as a “virtuoso.” His white shirt, beard and velvet yarmulkes also display the fact that Statman is an Orthodox Jew.

Statman grew up in Queens to a traditional, yet secular Jewish family from an unbroken chain of cantors going back to the 1700′s. His house was steeped in both vaudeville and Klezmer traditions. His cousin, Sammy Fein, originally Feinberg, a self-taught musician and composer, won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. Statman taught himself guitar and banjo after his brother brought home a record of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. A musical prodigy, in his teens he took up mandolin and became a well-known bluegrass musician.

After mastering saxophone and an extended foray into jazz in his mid-twenties, Statman felt the call of something else. He sought out master klezmer clarinetist Dave Terras. He says he became a “ben bayit,” a regular, at Terras’s house.

“There’s an incredible depth and spirituality to the music,” he said about Klezmer. “It connects you to the deepest part of yourself and to God. That’s what Judaism is about… In the old-time melodies, there’s, for lack of a better word, spiritual vitamins.”

Klezmer is the Eastern European musical tradition passed down from one generation to the next. (“It’s basically Chasidic music,” Statman said.) The exact history of the music was unknown to him, save for the fact that when Statman began playing Klezmer, it had almost been gone.

“A lot of where the music was played didn’t make it out,” he said. “Russia, Galicia, a lot of Chasidim. I think not only the Holocaust but there was more of an interest in preserving Judaism and the community. Music was not such a pressing concern.”

As the Klezmer revival began in the 1980’s and 90’s, Statman found himself more and more in demand, performing on records for the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.

“I didn’t intentionally start the revival, I was just doing it for myself to preserve the music,” Statman said. “I wasn’t reviving something, I just wanted to keep it alive. And the whole thing sort of blossomed.”

Paradoxically, as he became more Orthodox he felt less of a pull towards Klezmer music.

“The music became very much an expression of Judaism for me, and once I began observing the mitzvot I didn’t feel the need to play the music anymore.” Statman said.

Statman returned to Klezmer in the mid-90’s when he produced “Songs of our Fathers” with his mentor David Grisman, and “In the Fiddler’s House” with Itzhak Perlman. He, along with his two band members Jim Whitney and Larry Eagle, perform regularly at the Charles Street Synagogue. His most recent CD is Old Brooklyn.

Statman now lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with his wife. His grandsons and granddaughters attend religious schools. While musically inclined, none of them have seriously taken up an instrument.

“Given the schedules of yeshiva and Beis Yakov, there’s no real time to learn it well,” he explained. “If you really want to play music well, it’s a full-time commitment. I’m practicing six hours a day.”

He sees his becoming religious as a “continuation of a seven thousand year heritage that was momentarily broken.”

About the future of Klezmer, Statman said it wasn’t bittersweet.

“Like bluegrass [music], it’s from a time and place,” he said. “It changed and the music was moving on to become something else. That’s the way it is. Styles come and go. They reflect the lives and the people who are involved in them… Each day is new.”

About the Author: Michael Orbach is the Senior New York Correspondent for JewishPress.com. His work has appeared in the JTA, The Forward, The Jewish Week and Tablet. He was previously the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Star newspaper in Long Island. He is finishing up a novel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Andy Statman: Klezmer Is Finished”

  1. Kudos to a legend in Jewish Music. What a "kiddush Hashem"!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Betar soccer fans pour out on the field at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, where Hamas planned to carry out a mass-casualty attack.
Hamas Planned Massive Attack at Teddy Soccer Stadium in Jerusalem
Latest News Stories
Windshield Bullet Hole

As the expression goes, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”

Hamas snipers fired from Gaza at an IDF routine patrol operating along the security fence early afternoon on Thursday. No injuries were reported, and the vehicle was damaged. The IDF responded with an artillery shell aimed at the source of fire.

Soap Nuts

Jacob Richman found this amusing mistake in the store. Do we eat these “extra crispy” soap nuts, or wash the dishes with them?

Police arrest suspected terrorist.

For every terrorist cell Israel announces it has captured, there are many more kept under wraps.

On Monday evening, tTwo Arab MKs hurled epithets at MKs David Rotem and Feiglin from the podium. Here is Feiglin’s response.

Most significantly, both sides made progress until they talked about the status of Jerusalem.

If the Shin Bet had not stopped the terrorist cells in its tracks, they would have caused a mass catastrophe.

Thanksgiving is an American secular holiday that most Jews have no problem celebrating due to its lack of overt religious symbols (unlike the American holidays right before and after it). Still, there are always holdouts for some reason or another. Let’s hear what you do…

MK Miri Regev said the law is a difficult and complicated one, and it requires a serious discussion about its downsides, and therefore shouldn’t be rushed into implementation.

The Navy has selected Captain Or Cohen to become the first woman appointed as an IDF Navy ship’s commander.

Three Gazans were captured overnight when they crossed over the security fence into Israel.

Over 200 hair salons across Israel took part in the annual nationwide drive to collect hair for the Zichron Menachem Cancer Support in Israel in partnership with Pantene Products Israel.

In 2014, cruise ship traffic to Israel decreased by almost two-thirds in comparison with the year before.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg had heart surgery on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

“The Israeli government is not interested in the collapse of the Palestinian Authority,” said Arbell, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution who teaches at American University here. “There may be faults in Abbas and the leadership and in what they’re doing, but they’re still the safest bet.”

Shas head Aryeh Deri said this evening on Radio Kol Chai that if Netanyahu met his two non-negotiable conditions, Shas could join the coalition.

More Articles from Michael Orbach
f110414ns13

“Fourteen hours a day in yeshiva but [a student] doesn’t learn a single word of English, math, history, science, geography, music art, nothing, nothing, nothing.”

Illustration image

A high-number of Haredi women responded to the survey. Haredi women suffering from eating issues also face a particular set of challenges.

When a Reform summer camp in Mississippi invited an Orthodox summer camp for a Fourth of July celebration, the get-together became national Jewish news. The onslaught of publicity caught both camps off-guard. One camp director explained that in the deep South, Jewish camps offers a place where Jewish campers “get to be in the majority instead of the minority.”

If there’s any story inside the Jewish community that closely parallels the sexual abuse cover-up inside the Catholic Church, it’s the story of Avrohom Mondrowitz.

An Ultra-Orthodox man reading the Talmud on the subway from Underground NY Public Library. The photo blog is a project of acclaimed street photographer, Ourit Ben-Haim. In an interview, Ben-Haim said that when she takes a photograph of someone reading she sees “people who are contemplating description of new possibilities. In this way, every book […]

Jews are the least of Elmo’s problems. Four days after a man dressed in an Elmo suit was forcibly ejected from Central Park for spewing anti-Semitic propaganda, an article revealed his frightening past. “I hate those [women],” he told a news reporter in 1999.

It looks like someone went up to Charles Barron and slapped him. The former member of the City Council and the Black Panther party was handily defeated by Hakeem Jeffries for the newly redrawn 8th Congressional District. The new district is mainly African-American, with a significant percentage of Russian Jews and Hispanics. Jeffries won in a landslide with more than half the precincts reporting, taking 75 percent of the vote.

Andy Statman says the time of Klezmer has passed. Having just received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship in June for his work in bluegrass and Klezmer music, Statman admits Klezmer used to be his substitute for Jewish observance. Now that he is an Orthodox Jew, he no longer feels the need to play the music.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/andy-statman-klezmer-is-finished/2012/06/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: