Where Our Music Comes From
A Photo Gallery by Fumie Suzuki (text by Di Naye Kapelye)

Some of the musicians DNK learns from, and various travel adventures in Romania

Itzik Schwartz (1905-2001), the Yiddish historian and former director of the Iasi Yiddish theater (1948-1966), was born in Podu Iloaiei (Podoloy) and remained active in Iasi until his recent death. An amazing man, full of energy and Yiddishkeit, Itsik Schwartz published in Yiddish and other languages for 70 years. He was a personal friend of Itsik Manger's in Chernowitz, and also knew the great Soviet musicologist Beregovski.

Jeno Berki is an accordionist who lives in Mera, Romania. Before the Romanian revolution, he played with the Berki family band for weddings and celebrations in the Kalotaszeg region west of Cluj-Napoca. His style is a good example of the adaptation of the (relatively new) accordion into the existing folk ensemble after the second world war. In the hands of his neighbor, Bela Berki (d. 1997), accordion accompaniment was elaborated to include a rich variety of 7th chord modulations that compliment both melody and bracs accompaniment. One of the Jewish related songs recalled by the older Mera musicians is referred to as the "Pilota" (Pilot) song. One of the young Jewish men in the village became a pilot and the song was sung for him as he left the village to join the Romanian Air Force.

A Stroh Fiddler at the Negrin Market. The Stroh violin (trumpet fiddle) is one of the more bizarre instruments found in Romania, and the annual autumn market in Negrin is a great place to see it played. Found primarily in the Bihor region near the western border, the instrument resembles an electric violin with a gramophone trumpet attached to the bridge. Typical back-up ensemble is bracs (three-stringed viola), bass, and drum. The market usually happens in second week of October, and peasants and Gypsies gather from the entire region to buy and sell everything from Turkish track suits to copper 'tuica' (plum brandy) smelters, 'antiques', and all kinds of assorted junk. Our annual pilgrimage to the market is a chance to eat 'mici' - delicious little goat/lamb sausages, listen to great music, and sample the year's vintage of palinka.

The Bughici Family Gravestone. Along with the Segal family, the Bughici family was one of the premier klezmer families of Iasi. Various Bughicis performed in Goldfaden's Yiddish Theater orchestra as well as for countless weddings in the Iasi region. Di Naye Kapelye performs some of the Bughici family repertoire, such as the Hangu and Freylekhs from Podoloy.

For more photos taken during Bob and Fumie's October 2005 trip to Romania, see Mark Rubin's blog.

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