Wedding Without a Bride


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Part I. Tsum Badekns [To The Veiling]
Gliner Gasn Nign [Gliniany Street Escort Song]
Tsum Badekns [To The Veiling]

Part II. Kale Bazingns [Music For The Bride]
Opshpiln Di Kale [Prelude For The Bride]
Kale Bazingns [Music For The Bride]
Nokhshpil [Postlude]

Part III. Khosn Bazingns [Music For The Groom]
Opshpiln Dem Khosn [Prelude For The Bridegroom]
Khosn Bazingns [Music For The Bridegroom]
Nokhshpil [Postlude]

Part IV. Di Khupe [Music For The Wedding Canopy]
Tsu Der Khupe [March To The Wedding Canopy]
Unter Der Khupe [Inovacation Of The Dead Souls Under The Wedding Canopy]
Fun Der Khupe [March From The Wedding Canopy]

Part V. Tsum Tish [Table Music]
Mekhutonim Tsu Der Vetshere [In-Laws To The Banquet]
Piotrkower Tish Nign [Religious Table Song]

Part VI. Far Der Kale [Dance For The Bride]
Mitsve Tentsl [Obligatory Dance With The Bride]
Bughicis Freylakhs [Bughici’s Dance Of Joy]
Novi Sacz Sirba [Romanian Circle Dance]

Part VII. Far Di Mekhutonim [Music For The In-Laws]
Horowitz’s Dobranoc [Horowitz’s Evening Greeting Improvisation]

Broyges Tants [Dance Of Anger]
Shulem Tants mit Variatsyes [Dance Of Peace]

Part VIII. Tsum Tants [To The Dance]
Budowitzer Sher [Budowitz’s Scissors Dance]

Part IX. Gute Nakht [Farewell Music]
Horowitz’s Zogekhts [Instrumental Recitative]
Bney Heykhlo [Prayer: Those Who Dwell In The Sanctuary]

Gute Nakht Vals [Good Night Waltz]
Shapiros Korohod [Round Dance]

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About Wedding Without A Bride

The wedding is one of the most important events in Jewish life. Whereas the matrimonial customs of many other cultures express unencumbered joy and exhilaration with a minimal perusal of life’s meaning, the traditional East European Jewish wedding mirrors clearly the attitude and history of the Jews throughout the centuries. It wasn’t raucous play and abandon that defined the overall atmosphere of the ceremony, but rather the awareness of a complete new set of duties to be fulfilled by both bride and groom. This is not to say that there was no fun - there was, and plenty of it - but if you compared the typical Ashkenazi wedding as it used to be with what it has become, you would be forced to say that its character has lightened. In the absence of the most profound ritual expressions which the nuptuals has brought forth throughout the centuries, the modern wedding has gained in buoyancy what it has lost in gravity. For better or worse, the alleviation of the more emotionally demanding moments of the Ashkenazi wedding has been accompanied by the disappearance of some of the most profound expressions of music with which it has been traditionally connected.

In order to lend the event of marriage its due honor, music developed to accompany virtually every step of the ceremony - music which we today call klezmer music. While early 78 r.p.m. discs of klezmer music (ca. 1906-1942) offered rare short satires of selected portions of the music of the ceremony it was not possible to record more than 3-4 minutes per side. And by the time long playing records became possible, many of the wedding music genres themselves had almost completely faded into obscurity. To this day, no one has yet attempted to record realistically the ritual portions of the wedding which make up the oldest layers of klezmer style. Even with the advent of the CD medium, it would have become possible to give a rough idea of a condensed wedding, yet the many genres which earlier defined klezmer music did not manage to become reintegrated into it, leading to it’s being defined in the present day by a standard repertoire of selected dance music.

In this CD we are presenting klezmer music as close to the way it sounded in its original wedding day context as possible. Of course we couldn’t include the 8-day wedding in its entirety, but we have been able to produce the main musical pillars of the celebration day in order to lead the listener through it’s various stages. So if you listen to the CD from start to finish, you will be taken from the escorting of the family, to the veiling of the bride, to hear the badkhn [master of ceremonies and wedding jester]1 and musicians eliciting tears from both bride and groom. Then you will hear them march to the ceremony, after which the musicians will invoke the souls of the deceased parents, eventually marching away from the ceremony to the banquet. You will hear the greeting of the guests at table, an instrumental prayer for the religious, followed by the ritual dance for the bride and then a solo piece of classically wrought musical entertainment followed by a dance for all. To end the evening you will hear an improvised rendition of prayer themes followed by a reminder to the guests of the importance of the wedding, a waltz and finally a lively dance to move the guests home.

We have tried as much as possible to concentrate our repertoire, styles and basic ordering on the Jewish wedding as it existed in Galitsia-Volhynia, specifically around the towns of Piotrkow-Tribunalski and Gliniany, but including much of what is today Poland. Through our research we found that, while there may have been certain tendencies from region to region regarding the sequence of events, the texts of the sung portions of the wedding and the style of the music performed, every shtetl [small town] and every generation had its own way of doing things. Therefore, we see our own reworking of the elements of the wedding as falling directly within this pluralistic tradition, even if our efforts never manage to find their way back into their original context.

In working on this recording, we were surprised at how the wedding, from begin to end, offered a complex and emotionally subtle work as a form on its own, as intricate as any classical symphony. Our efforts would have been impossible without the patient and caring encouragement we received from Jeremiah Hescheles, and from Majer Bogdanski, whom we are honored to present on this record. Majer taught us the entire ritual portion of the wedding exactly as it was performed in his shtot [city], Piotrkow, complete with the instrumental melodies; and Jeremiah shared with us his wonderful knowledge of klezmer style and history. What resulted was a reconstruction of one version of the musical sequence of the Galitsian wedding as it might have existed toward the end of the 19th Century. However, in following the directions of our mentors, we encountered a basic aesthetic irony which contradicts the instincts of so many modern musicians: the instinct to show an audience that traditional klezmer music in all its facets is powerful enough to withstand drastic remodeling in order to adapt to the modern world. While many modern musicians act upon this instinct, Budowitz are consciously going against it by showing that traditional klezmer music is powerful enough to stand on its own without having to adapt. In doing this we are simply following the instructions of the badkhn himself when he implores, “Oh, my brother’s klezmorim, play... just as it used to be in the days of our holy Forefathers...”

The Players
The Tsimblist and Accordionist: Joshua Horowitz
The Clarinetist: Merlin Shepherd
The Violinist: Támas Gambai
The 3-String Violist: Sándor D. Tóth
The Cellist: Zsort Kürtö
The Vocalist: Majer Bogdanski