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The term ‘Klezmer’ comes from the Hebrew words "klei" meaning‘vessel’ and "zemer" meaning ‘song’ - literally meaning "instrument of song". This was the Yiddish word by which the musicians themselves were known in Eastern Europe. The term ‘Klezmer Music’ was first used in the 1970s to describe the traditional instrumental music of the Yiddish-speaking people of Eastern Europe whose origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages.

Klezmer is enjoying huge popularity world wide and giving pleasure to thousands of listeners and performers. This toe-tapping Eastern European party music imbued with Jewish tonalities and spirituality resonates with people young and old from a wide variety of backgrounds.

JMI presents klezmer concerts as well as one off workshops, weekly classes and the famous KlezFest, a week-long intensive summer school for instrumentalists, singers and dancers.  Jmi also presents Ot Azoy a weeklong Yiddish language and culture summer school at the University of London.

JMI supports performers and ensembles, provides resources in the JMI library and through Jewish Music Distribution and promotes workshops and performances in other centres in the UK.

Gregory Schechter set up the first Klezmer Band in the UK which debuted at the South Bank in June 1991 and has been in demand ever since.  

last modified: January 28, 2010



Ashkenazi Links

Ashkenazi music home page

What is Klezmer?

What is Yiddish?

KlezFest London

Ot Azoy - Yiddish Crash Course

Klezmer and Yiddish Events

Workshops, courses and classes

Yiddish and Klezmer Articles

Request a Klezmer Teacher

The Jim Marcovitch Klezmer Fund


The International Forum for Yiddish Culture (IFYC)




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The Jewish Music Institute is an independent Arts organisation based at SOAS, University of London. It is an international focus bringing the ancient yet contemporary musical culture of the Jews to the mainstream British cultural, academic and social life. Its programmes of education, performance and information highlight many aspects of Jewish music throughout the ages and across the globe for people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.