Kiman Speaks on Klezmer Music during Graduate Speaker Series

On Oct 10, Douglas Kiman, a second year PhD student in ethnomusicology, presented a Graduate Speaker Series talk titled “Klezmorim and Klezmer Music: From Europe to the United States and Back Again.” Klezmer music is the instrumental folklore of Eastern European Yiddish-speaking communities played by Jewish musicians called klezmorim. For centuries, these musicians traveled with their music, playing for the nobles and for the masses, within and outside their communities, adapting and absorbing from their surrounding cultures.

On Oct 10, Douglas Kiman, a second year PhD student in ethnomusicology, presented a Graduate Speaker Series talk titled “Klezmorim and Klezmer Music: From Europe to the United States and Back Again.” Klezmer music is the instrumental folklore of Eastern European Yiddish-speaking communities played by Jewish musicians called klezmorim. For centuries, these musicians traveled with their music, playing for the nobles and for the masses, within and outside their communities, adapting and absorbing from their surrounding cultures.

As part of his presentation, Douglas Kiman offered a performance showcasing music played for traditional Jewish weddings, including a Doina, a Hora and a Bulgar. Pictured are musicians Lisa Stein ’21 and music graduate student Ian Davis.

Douglas Kiman and music graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan presented a short Doina with a clarinet and sarangi. "It’s very unlikely that this happened before and that is what makes Wesleyan’s Music Department so unique: the convergence of musical traditions and musical innovations," Kiman said.

Douglas Kiman and music graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan presented a short Doina with a clarinet and sarangi. “It’s very unlikely that this happened before and that is what makes Wesleyan’s Music Department so unique: the convergence of musical traditions and musical innovations,” Kiman said.

Douglas Kiman’s talk highlighted the historical journey of a musical heritage that is constantly on the move. After the Second World War, both Yiddish culture and klezmer music fell into oblivion. Starting in the 1970s, on both sides of the Atlantic, musicians set out on a quest to reclaim their cultural roots and rediscover the music of their ancestors. Since its revival, klezmer music has undergone a significant popularization, becoming a global phenomenon and forging innovative musical identities.

The Graduate Speaker Series is open to the entire Wesleyan community. (Photos by Alexa Jablonski ’22)