Published December 13, 2016

We’re playing Indiana Jones for a week at With Good Reason, following in the footsteps of rogue insurance translator Michael Aylward (more on that later) in uncovering the lost histories of music.

We don’t want to spoil too much of this week’s show, but we did want to give a taste of some of the extraordinary music we’ll be featuring. Courtesy of Aylward and celebrated klezmer musician Joel Rubin, here is a selection of klezmer past and present for your delectation and delight.

Klezmer of Old

Our show this week begins with the story of Michael Aylward, an insurance translator-cum-musical historian who traced thousands of lost Jewish recordings to their places in the untapped archives of major record labels.

Aylmer’s discoveries reveal new things about the genre of klezmer music and European musical history more generally. For example, there’s the “606 Dance”, a tune composed in celebration of a new treatment for syphilis called arsphenamine or “Compound 606.”

Believe it or not, the “606 Dance” even became a hit wedding tune, performed here by the Jewish Wedding Orchestra.

Many of these recording have never been heard, but the tunes may be familiar. Some have become part of a traditional repertory passed down from musician to musician and in sheet music that lasts to this day.

Here’s another recording from the archive, a traditional round dance tune by A.S. Olevsky’s Orchestra.

Klezmer of Now

In this week’s episode we sit down with Joel Rubin, one of the greatest living klezmer musicians and an ethnomusicologist specializing in the history of klezmer. Rubin himself plays the clarinet, and has just released a new album with the musicians of Veretski Pass called Poylin: A Gilgul (Poland: A Metamorphosis). Together, they draw on formerly lost recordings for inspiration and revive the long-lost repertory of European klezmer.
Here’s their beautiful tune, “Katz’s March”.

Listen, compare, and share your thoughts! And remember to check out both the Short Listen and this week’s full episode to get the full story of Michael’s discovery and Joel’s reinventions, plus the secret history of American opera and much more!

Zay gezunt!


Learning Experience

Virginia History in Song

What can songs teach us about history?

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