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March 30, 2003

Where are the Jewish weblogs?

Nu? So where are the Jewish weblogs? It's getting lonely out here!

If this subject is new to you, and if you want to find out more, let me recommend the new book that I picked up this week, Rebecca Blood's "The Weblog Handbook." It's more about the phenomenon than about anything technical, it's short, and so far, it's very worth reading.

When I moved the KlezmerShack main page to a weblog format, I thought that I had missed the trend by now, and that there would be lots of Jewish weblogs (none of which I was or am aware of yet, but I don't know so much that I'd rely on that) to which I could link and have them ping me back.

So far, this hasn't happened.

It reminds me of when the KlezmerShack was started. At the time, this site was known as "Ari Davidow's Klezmer Page". My name was part of the title because I knew that there would be thousands of Klezmer and Jewish music pages shortly, and I wanted people to have a way to differentiate mine. Almost a decade later, there are other klezmer pages of note--see the klezlinks page, but far fewer than I expected. And far fewer people are writing about Jewish music in general than I expected.

I wish I understood better why this is so. I suspect that I know, and am in denial. It is entirely likely that most Jews (let along the rest of the world) simply aren't interested in music that isn't part of popular culture. Adrienne Cooper and Michael Alpert and Laura Wetzler and Lauren Sklambert and Teresa Tova aren't competing well with Macy Gray or Britney Spears. That's too bad. In an age when we have the tools to make such an overwhelming diversity of music available, and to share the music and ideas and culture that it all represents, I am saddened that so few people care enough to do so.

Weblogs are easy, though. If you get one going, let me know so I can ping you, and certainly, so I can let others go. And if you have ideas about Jewish music, and Jewish culture--this is definitely an easy way to get them out to more people to see if they are shared, to get conversations going.

As I said. Weblogs are easy. So, march to the purveyors of the weblog software of your choice (most of which is free--blogger, blosxom, greymatter, moveable type), take some time to make what you write worth reading, and get it online already.

If this subject is new to you, and if you want to find out more, let me recommend the new book that I picked up this week, Rebecca Blood's "The Weblog Handbook." It's about what a weblog is, basic courtesy and etiquette. It's also short, delightful, and should get just about everyone interested in starting a good weblog. Highly recommended, if only to make my own existence, and that of other site readers, more fun.

I tend to think of a "weblog" as just about any website that has dated entries, and in which every entry (or most entries) include a link to another page--preferably a page on another website. There are other definitions. The KlezmerShack doesn't present a lot of active filtering or analysis, something which is typical of many weblogs (although I do some analysis, and hope that people read it when I do). Neither is it a journal in most senses--I take some care to leave most of my personal life offline. The main goal of the KlezmerShack is to make as much information about Jewish music, primarily non-religious Jewish music, and occasionally, generally non-religious or edge Jewish culture, available to as many people as possible, and preferably, in people's own words. It's a small enough area of interest that rather than filter, the challenge is to gather enough information such that people get a sense that things are happening! The KlezmerShack links to any website that looks interesting. I only encourage people to start weblogs because weblogs are fun. The important thing, though, is to put information and views that seem important to you, online, for sharing.

That brings me to the point of this weblog entry: Scoop Nisker*, on KSAN radio, back in San Francisco, California in the '60s, liked to claim that "if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." I'm doing my best locally to make news. I'm asking everyone reading these pages to do the same. Revolution, or simply active community, loves company.


*I remembered that line as from Travis T. Hipp on KFAT, but have been corrected. 3/24/05. ari

March 27, 2003

Favorite Passover Recordings

the irrepressible chasia segalDo you have a favorite Passover recording? Is there something that your kids love to listen to every year?

Add a comment to this weblog, or e-mail me, and let me know. I'll add all the comments and recommendations to a document similar to what we put together for Chanuka a few years ago.

cahan-simon album coverThere are a few obvious new and classic recordings that come to mind:

mailing lists for stringed instruments

This was conveyed to the Jewish-music mailing list by way of Lenka Lichtenberg:

"My brothers, Pooyan and Parham established two Yahoo groups. One for Hammered Dulcimer such as Persian santoor and so on...and the other for Plucked Stringed Instruments such as guitar and so on... groups.yahoo.com/group/hammered_dulcimer: 'This group is for all those instrumentalists interested in the hammered dulcimers of the world.' And if you know anybody around yourself that might be interested in plucked stringed instruments, then please let them know about: groups.yahoo.com/group/plucked_stringed/: This group is for all those instrumentalists interested in the plucked stringed instruments of the world."

March 26, 2003

Klezmatics new release, "Rise Up", May 13

album coverLorin Sklamberg writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list, commenting on rereleases of the two earliest Klezmatics albums, with even more intensely welcomed news:

"Rounder is reissuing both Rhythm + Jews (which was originally available in the U.S. on Flying Fish) and Shvaygn = Toyt (the Klezmatics' debut recording, never before available domestically).

"These, together with our new cd, Rise Up! Shteyt oyf! (finally set free from klezmer purgatory) are scheduled for release on May 13.


"And, for those of you in the San Francisco Bay area, the band will perform as part of the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival this coming Saturday, March 29 at 8pm at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Berkeley with special guest Holly Near (who will join us for her [now bi-lingual] anthem, I Ain't Afraid).

"The evening will be MCd by none other than Ronnie Gilbert."


Wolf Krakowski + Middle Eastern roots music w/Alicia Svigals

most recent Krakowski album coverA most fascinating concert is coming up on Mar 26th at UConn/Storrs. Yiddish folk-rocker Wolf Krakowski headlines, backed with the Lonesome Brothers. Also on the bill is Mawwal, described as a "Middle Eastern roots music" with violin wizard Alicia Svigals making a guest appearance.

The idea of bringing Yiddish music together with Middle Eastern music suggests not only a fascinating fusion (especially given Krakowski's country-rockish leanings), but makes it's own rather nice statement.

More information is available on Krakowski's Kamea Media site, www.kamea.com, and from an online PDF

March 23, 2003

New KlezmerShack Reviews

The church at the end of the alley, decent punk typeIt's been a very fun week. There are new reviews up demonstrating, once again, the absurd bread of interesting music that is being sent to the KlezmerShack:

Naftule's Dream / Live in Florence is a dream--this live recording catches the energy and interplay of this post-klezmer edge band as nothing yet.

loud, cheesy benguiat with cliched drawing of chassidim drinking in violin caseDresder & Mayer / Sruli and Lisa's Klezmer Dance Party provides the answer to the question: "what two people are most responsible for people associating "party" and "klezmer".

Nikolayev Kapeliah / Vodkazak features some of my favorite klezmer and jazz musicians (Alicia Svigals, Jeff Warschauer, Sy Kushner, Marty Confurious, Nicki Parrot) tearing up chasidic standards. Hot.

Meshugga Beach Party. It's time to twist to those freilachs once again. Dick Dale meets "Hatikvah" and wins.

CRI bought by New World Records; CD dist sought

CD CoverJeffrey Schanzer writes:

"I'm writing because the CRI (Composers Recordings, Inc.) label, which put out my CD "No More In Thrall," is going out of business after almost 50 years. ... "No More In Thrall" was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, and is performed by the Sirius String Quartet with Kevin Norton on percussion. CRI's catalogue, which is quite extensive, will be take over by New World Records, which will re-release the CRI recordings over a number of years. Right now, CRI and its distributor is selling their remaining stock at a bargain rate price. So, I wanted to ask you to forward this to some of the Jewish music distributors you know from the list to see if they are interested in picking some up at a good price. No one will be distributing this for several years at least.

For remaining stock, and in particular for Jeff Schanzer's CD, visit: www.newworldrecords.org/CRI.html, and for information on NWR, visit their website at www.newworldrecords.org

12th "Days of Jewish Culture," Chemnitz, Germany, Mar 27 - Apr 3

festival logoAndreas Rohde, of the wonderful German Klezmer/folk band, Aufwind, writes:

Now we have finished the program and the website of the 12th "Days of the Jewish Culture in Chemnitz/Germany". It is a various program not only with klezmer; we have reading, a radio feature, danceworkshop, theatre.... The website is only in German but it is translatable with altavista and other web-translation-services.

www.tdjk.de (Website-Tage der jüdischen Kultur Chemnitz)

As usual, we invite attendees to post comments here, during and after the event.

Albuquerque Academy Klezmer Camp, Jun 23-27

Josh Horowitz jamming into the late night hoursSet in the foothills of the Sandia mountains on the lush 300+ acre campus of Albuquerque Academy, this weeklong workshop features internationally acclaimed tsimbalist and accordianist Josh Horowitz, from the group Budowitz, and renowned Holocaust educator and fiddler Cookie Segelstein. Following mornings of music, you can hike on our private wilderness tract or on the many acres of public land nearby. Or explore the cultural resources of the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area.

For more information contact Danny Packer at (505) 828-3361, or packer@aa.edu. To register, contact the Albuquerque Academy Summer session at (505) 858-8811.

This class is open to anyone who can play simple tunes on their instrument. You do not have to read music or be familiar with Klezmer style. We encourage both solo players and existing ensembles to participate. Class will run daily from 9 AM until noon. Informal practice and jam time possible in the afternoons. An optional Yiddish culture program will also be available. $200.

The week will conclude with a student concert and a concert by Cookie and Josh on Friday evening.

This weeklong workshop could be a great start or end to a southwestern summer vacation or a vacation unto itself.

Although we are not setting up any formal arrangements for housing, we can offer a bit of informal advice. In addition, the school has a rustic cabin, located in the foothills of the beautiful Sandia Mountains, a few minutes drive from the main campus. Call about this if you're interested.

For more information contact Danny Packer at (505) 828-3361, or packer@aa.edu. To register, contact the Albuquerque Academy Summer session at (505) 858-8811.

First Icelandic band listing

At this point, I tend to think that we have listings for klezmer bands in just about every country where there is likely to be a band playing Jewish music, klezmer or otherwise (see the listing of bands by location at www.klezmershack.com/contacts/klezbyloc.html), but this morning I entered our first listing for Iceland. Actually, it's an Icelandic/German band, but the person making the entry is from Selfoss, Iceland. The band is called 'Kol Isha". Here's to encouraging them to play together, indeed, for many years to come.

Although the KlezmerShack is a good place for me to post links to my reviews and articles, and to other people's reviews and articles about klezmer and other Jewish music, the thing that seems to be most useful to most people is the listings. It seems that wherever I go, there are people listed here, who have gotten gigs because other people could find out about them. I'm hoping to launch better tools in a few months that will make it easier to find bands, easier to list them (and impossible for spammers to scan for more e-mail addresses). Stay tuned!

Article about Alpert, Mayer, Dresder in "The Singing Table"

Michael Alpert has teamed up with the irrepressible duo of Sruli Dresder and Lisa Mayer to present a program of nigunim (hasidic "hums", as it were). It is an amazing performance, by all accounts. Here is an account from the Forverts, spotted by Jewish-Music mailing list member, Sandra Layman:


March 22, 2003

Review of Theresa Tova CD

ho hum cabaet shot with trivial typographyThe new Theresa Tova CD, "Live at the Top o' the Senator" is a jazz singer's delight. The KlezmerShack review is up at www.klezmershack.com/bands/tova/live/tova.live.html". Enjoy!

Review of Laura Wetzler CD

Looks like kabbalah to meIt's about time, but we finally have a short review up of the marvellous recent CD by Laura Wetzler, Kabbalah Music

Martin Schwartz article

Martin Schwartz, photo from UC Berkeley NewsSandra Layman writes on the Jewish-Music mailing list:

There's a nice article about Martin Schwartz of Berkeley, at: www.berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/2003/03/12_klez.shtml

His amazing collection of 78 rpm recordings, and his vast knowledge and enthusiasm concerning various genres and artists, changed my life and the lives of more than one other musician back in the late 1970s. And he's still at it!

March 15, 2003

Review of Maxwell St Klezmer, "Old Roots, New World"

Dan Pine writes in the most recent Northern California Jewish Bulletin:

Yo Yo Ma did it. Wynton Marsalis did it. And now, the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, like the aforementioned classical music superstars, has blended thorough musical scholarship with an unabashed joy of performing on their new Shanachie Records CD release "Old Roots, New World." ...


Review of Klezthetics CD, "Calistrophy" by Elliott Simon

Elliott Simon write to the Jewish-music mailing list:

My review of Burton Greene's Klezthetics.....Calistrophy is now posted online....

The latest offering from pianist Burton Greene, Calistrophy, is a curious blend of klezmer, blues, swing, free form, Latin, Balkan and plain old straight ahead jazz. Greene, a founding member of the '60s cutting edge Free Form Improvisation Ensemble, was, with his group Klezmokum, also among the first to reacquaint contemporary jazz with klezmer. Joining Greene on this effort, and billed as the Klez-Thetics, are Hungarian reeds player Akos Laki and Klezmokum's core rhythm-masters drummer Roberto Haliffi and tubaist Larry Fishkind.....


March 8, 2003

"Kabbalah Music" CD Concert Art Exhibit, premiers Mar 9

Looks like kabbalah to me

"Kabbalah Music" CD Release Concert & Art Exhibit
Sisters Explore Jewish Mysticism through Music and Painting

Laura Wetzler in "Kabbalah Music: Songs of the Jewish Mystics" Sunday, March 9, 3pm at The Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W.67th St., NYC. Tickets $25. Call Box Office:(212) 501-3330, Special Guests: Alicia Svigals, violin (of the Klezmatics,) Amir Chehade & Robin Burdulis, mideast percussion; Scott Wilson, kanun; Maurice Chedid, oud. Set Design and Art Exhibit by Angela Milner.

In conjunction, "Kabbalah Music: Encaustic Paintings by Angela Milner" The Merkin Concert Hall Gallery, 129 W.67th St. NYC. March 9-April 1. Post "Kabbalah Music" concert reception and art opening in gallery. Gallery hours by appointment thereafter: (212) 307-1385.

Laura Wetzler's new CD, "Kabbalah Music: Songs of the Jewish Mystics, Meditations, Devotions and Ecstasies, New and Old, From Around the World" is based on 4000 years of writings by great Jewish mystics, and features both traditional Jewish songs from communities around the world and new music by Laura Wetzler. Sung in Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) and English, Kabbalah Music celebrates traditional mystical imagery from the Torah, the Zohar, the Hechalot poets, Ibn Ezra, Gerondi, the "Ari," Najara, Alkabetz, Labi, Shabazi, Nachman of Bratzlav, Levi Yitzak of Berdichev, Sarah Bas Toivim, and others, set to music from Jewish communities in Uganda, Italy, India, Spain, Yemen, Iraq, Greece, Morocco, Eastern- Europe and the U.S.. The Kabbalah Music CD has turned into a critical success and surprise 'cross-over' hit, making many Top 10 world music charts and is currently receiving airplay on over 600 radio stations internationally. Available at stores and from amazon.com; cdbaby.com; jewishmusic.com, soundswrite.com, and hatikvahmusic.com.

The "Kabbalah Music" CD release concert of exciting, world-beat Jewish meditation music will have a backdrop of large 7' by 7' paintings created especially for this event by her sister, artist Angela Milner. In addition, there will be a "Kabbalah Music" art exhibit by Milner, on-site, in the Merkin Concert Hall Gallery. Laura and Angela grew up in North Babylon, Long Island, New York. Their mother, Rosalie, was a professional musician working in Jewish music. Their father, Rudi, was a businessman and survivor of Nazi Germany. This event is a unique collaboration by two sisters, a musician and a painter, who are working together in the esoteric realm of Jewish mysticism.

Laura Wetzler, ASCAP Award winning singer, composer, recording artist, and ethnic folklorist, tours internationally in over 150 concerts and lectures each year, singing original music, world Jewish roots music in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and the great classics of American song. Laura began singing Jewish music professionally at the age of 15. She has composed for independent film, television, and her debut, critically-acclaimed contemporary American folk CD, Songwriter's Notebook, recent single, To Save A Life, and new Kabbalah Music CD's are heard on radio stations around the world. Laura has shared stages with such artists as Pete Seeger, Dave Mallet, Odetta, Richie Havens, The Klezmatics, and many others. Meticulous research goes into creating her 24 different concert programs, including Songwriter's Notebook, Kabbalah Music, Music of the Jews of Italy, American Hitmakers, Laura Wetzler and Janiece Thompson in Jewels of the Diaspora: A Celebration of African-American and Jewish Song, and A World of Jewish Music, among others. Laura recently returned from a concert and song-sharing visit with Jewish communities in Mbale, Uganda and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • "Top 10 World Music Charts" Toronto Radio
  • "Top 10 World Music Charts" WSIA, NYC
  • "Laura is one of the very best" Pete Seeger
  • "Captivating with Kabbalah" The Jewish Ledger
  • "A fascinating new album ... vastly impressive ... superb performances ... a major achievement." Robert Sherman, of The New York Times, WFUV
  • "... pure vocal ecstasy!" Jewish Entertainment Resources
  • "An amazingly gifted, singer, songwriter and ethnic folklorist." David Amram
  • "'Kabbalah Music' is one of the best albums of new Jewish music in the past decade and establishes Wetzler in the forefront of the rich, exciting renaissance of contemporary Jewish music. Laura does a terrific job of presenting a focused, coherent overview of Jewish music's span and scope ... a masterful work of folklore and scholarship, as well as a beautifully performed work of original, traditional-based music" Seth Rogovoy, Author, The Essential Klezmer, WAMC Public Radio
  • "What glorious singing!�exciting, up-beat, joyous," Workman's Circle, NYC

Angela Milner's latest art work is inspired by the teachings of the Jewish mysticism, introduced to her by her sister, Laura, who asked Milner to design the Kabbalah Music CD cover. For the Kabbalah Music set design and art exhibit, Milner explores several aspects of philosophical kabbalah through colorful, expressive works, referencing Jewish mystical concepts such as the sephirot, (or Tree of 10 Divine emanations), tzeruf, (Hebrew letter meditations), shemoth and shiviti (various Hebrew names for G-d placed as Jewish meditation and prayer focus points). Working from her Brooklyn studio in D.U.M.B.O., Milner uses the ancient process of encaustic painting as her medium, created by combining beeswax, color pigment and varnish. The rich waxy surfaces achieved with encaustic painting creates a wonderful rendezvous between process and thought, well suited to this mystical theme.

  • "visually exciting.... the inventiveness, spontaneity and movement of Abstract Expressionism is retained, but added objects expand meaning." Phyllis Braff, The New York Times
  • "fragments of perception make up a composite of organic and mechanistic elements, commenting on the dual and sometimes conflicting aspects of modern life." Helen A. Harrison, The New York Times
  • "...creates a sense of the romantic and poetic and engages the viewer in new ways of reflecting on the world." Elizabeth Wix, Newsday
  • "Angela Milner manipulates paint in a misty, poetic manner to create abstract canvases infused with a 'Turneresque' sense of light and rugged textures." Martin Parsons, Artspeak

Klezmer Reviews in "Sing Out!"

Seth Rogovoy posts to the Jewish-music mailing list:

The new issue of Sing Out! Magazine (Vol. 47, No. 1, Spring 2003) with Irish-American fiddle Liz Carroll on the cover contains reviews by yours truly of Jewish music recordings by the Red Hot Chachkas, Laura Wetzler and the recent anthology of klezmer called KLEZfest put out by ARC Music.

Eventually, these reviews will be posted at my website.

About Michal-Josef Guzikov

Alex Jacobowitz posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

While in grad school twenty years ago, I bumped across an historical figure. I was doing research on my instrument, and happened to find a man named Michal-Josef Guzikow (1806-1837).

[This is the same Guzikov about whom Henry Sapoznik writes in his book about klezmer, in Henry's case, based primarily on the work of Josh Horowitz - see also Horowitz, Joshua "Gusikov in Wien," Jüdische Traditionelle in Oesterreich, Vienna Oesterreichische Volksliedwerk Vienna, 2001.]

Jacobowitz continues: "I'm currently involved in writing a book about his most unusual life, and soon there will be an archive set up on the internet (www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/Guzikow/GuzikowArchs.html), Im Yirats Hashem. But I wanted to find out if anyone here has any interest in this subject. I've met Guzikow's descendants, gone to the gravesite, and collected the most extensive archive known on this Chassidic Jew, this klezmer. I would love to know if there are any questions."

Contact: Alex Jacobowitz, alexbjacobowitz@yahoo.com

This was posted by Jacobowitz to the list, about Guzikov:

Born in what was white Russia (Belarus) or variously Poland, Josef was a klezmer. A real, payes-wearing, Shabbos-keeping klezmer musician, who played weddings and Jewish holidays on his "wife", the flute, as his father did. He was even famous, playing for the Russian Czar Nicholas in Moscow with his family.

But then, tragedy. At the height of his powers, aged 25, he developed tuberculosis, had to give up his beloved flute, and became despondent. It was more than just losing the ability to make beautiful music - it meant loss of income for him and his three children, no more need to travel, no self-expression, no more playing for royalty and all that implied.

Josef had an idea. Though he couldn't breathe easily anymore, he took his substantial musical abilities - fantastic improvisation, probably perfect pitch and tremendous creativity - to an instrument which at that time wasn't known - the xylophone.

Josef had heard another chassidic Jew, Sankson Jakubowski, playing the poor instrument - at that time known as the Wood-and-Straw instrument because it was merely two and one-half octaves of wooden slats laying on rolls of straw, very primitive - and decided to study with him. Jakubowski was five years older, knew not only how to read music, but also composed. Jozef learned with an uncanny passion, and within three years mastered the instrument.

In 1834, only 28 years old, he played it solo at a concert in Kiev, and in Odessa. His audiences were absolutely astounded at the virtuosity he commanded. Fast, perfect, musical - and he played not only traditional Jewish music, but Polish music, Russian songs, classical pieces for violin. Many predicted a great success for him in Western Europe. But could the Yiddish-speaking Josef know what to do, how to achieve success in European concert halls? After all, Europe's finest pianists, violinists, singers would all be competing with him with names like Paganini, Liszt, Hummel, Malibran, Schumann, Mendelssohn.

How could this poor Jew from Poland, with his long black coat and beard, have a chance?

He decided to risk it. Leaving his wife and children home (Shklov, White Russia), he went on tour with three other family members, who accompanied him playing violin and cello.

After his concerts in Russia had been so successful, he wagered to travel West, thinking that if he failed, he could return to White Russia easily, though his goal was London - everybody had told him what great audiences, beautiful concert halls and sacks of money were awaiting him there.

First, Poland. He played on the street in Warsaw, then concerts in Lvov, Crakow, and in 1835 came to Prague. He could arrange a few concerts, but mostly as a variety performer, sharing the stage with two children who played violin duets and other musical oddities.

The German papers politely supported him, but Josef knew much more awaited him, and in the summer of 1836 he arrived in Vienna, the City of Music, where Mozart had composed, where Beethoven and Schubert were buried, the city of Strauss waltzes - and of imperial anti-Semitism.

Josef immediately arranged a concert - but almost no one attended - he hadn't known that the musical cognoscenti of Vienna all left the city for their summer homes. He was dejected.

It was at this low point that Vienna's most influential music critic, Moritz Saphir, heard Josef privately. Convinced of Josef's genius immediately, Saphir, a brilliant writer and lapsed Jew, supported Josef in his articles. "See this man", wrote Saphir, who compared Josef's manner and mien to those of a prophet. The Vienna public obliged, and Josef's twelve concerts at the Josefstadt Theater were sold out. Word travelled about this Eastern Jew - code word for illiterate, poor, dirty - who ascended the stage and made light work of Paganini's most difficult violin music - on pieces of wood! He eventually was invited to play for Prince Metternich, the Austrian diplomat who had designed the peace treaty and the balance of European powers at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Metternich invited him to play - but on the holy Sabbath! Josef considered the offer but refused, sending a note back to His Excellency that unfortunately, Josef was already engaged on that day - with an even greater King! Metternich understood, and offered Josef to play for him on Sunday instead. Josef accepted.

Half of Europe was in a furor over him, and fortunately for Josef, every city he played in knew of him, selling out his concerts often in advance. He continued to Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg. In Leipzig, Felix Mendelssohn, the most famous living composer of the time, wrote extraordinary things about Josef's ability, and came to visit him privately after the concert, and returned again to hear him in Frankfurt.

The same result everywhere - original disbelief turned into astonishment, respect and love. After the Frankfurt concert, another Jew, Ferdinand Hiller, who had converted to Christianity, wrote a letter of introduction for Josef - to the foremost opera composer of the time, Meyerbeer, who resided in Paris.

Jakubowski, Josef's teacher, had done a concert tour earlier throughout Germany and France, and many people confused the two. Some thought that Jakubowski was imitating Josef Guzikow, but it was the other way round - Josef was the better musician, though he had started very late. So a competition developed between the two men, each taking claim for having invented the instrument, which in fact they both had merely made innovations - a claim that was lost on the rush to hear these "new" instruments.

Jakubowski had played in Paris about one year earlier, and Meyerbeer had to be coaxed into hearing Josef, as he had heard Jakubowski previously. Meyerbeer, after hearing Guzikow, decided to help him, and helped him rent the Paris Opera house in December, 1836. Liszt heard Josef there, and wrote a letter, dripping with envy, to George Sand, Chopin's partner.

Josef stayed in Paris for several months, where he was a guest of many ex-patriot Poles who had escaped the insurrection and suppression of 1830-31, and every he was toasted as a true artist, a genious, representing Jews and Poles and culture despite his being anchored to a religion many thought had been frozen in the Middle Ages.

Josef then continued toward England, and since his tuberculosis was giving him trouble, he stopped at the spas in Spaa, Belgium to recover some of the energy he had lost. While there, he was interviewed by Fetis, the most important Belgian critic, who provided us with many important biographical details. While in Brussels, Josef played for the Leopold, King of Belgium, who granted him a diamond ring at the end of his performance.

Josef and his family members decided to discontinue their journey, since his health would only be made worse by England's climate, and they all decided to return back to White Russia in summer of 1837.

Feeling stronger, a concert was arranged in Aachen (Aix-la-Chappelle), and in the middle of playing, Josef collapsed on stage, his instrument in his hands. He died shortly thereafter, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Aachen on October 23, 1837.

Since his relatives had already traveled home, no money was left for his tombstone, and this poor musician, a Jew who had come from the shtetls of Poland, who come to play for the crowned heads of Western Europe, was buried in an unmarked grave at the age of 31.

Jakubowski lived much longer, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Strassbourg in 1873. He had a large and beautiful gravestone. On it was engraved "Creator of the xylophone".

New Jewish Music website

Rainlore's World of MusicRichard Sharma, Renaissance man and composer, has been posting reviews to the Jewish-music mailing list for a while. Now he has begun gathering his writings and getting them online. Visit the Jewish music part of his website at www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/JewishMusic

It's definitely worth a visit. When he gets the Guzikov materials online, it will be even more so! Stay tuned for a pending announcement.