Andy Statman: Klezmer music is the traditional instrumental music of the Jews of Eastern Europe. So that would -- and the what they call the Pale of Settlement. It'd be the Ukraine, uhm.. Southern Poland and parts of Poland proper, Belarus, the areas around Romania. There were other Jewish musics in, also, like Hungary and other places, but they were a little bit different, and also other parts of Poland and. But this was sort of a unified style of music.
Jo Reed: And what's distinctive about it?
Andy Statman: Well, the emotional contact is distinctive. Basically, it's instrumental versions of Hassidic vocal music. So it's coming directly out of the religious milieu. In fact, most of the great klezmer musicians came from Hasidic families and were Hasidic. It was only when they came to America some of them sort of uh.. went off that path, although some in Europe did, also. But it was basically in a nutshell, it's Hasidic vocal music played instrumentally, and it could either be actual Hasidic melodies, or melodies that would- were composed by the musicians themselves that might show their creativity and virtuosity. But the feeling they would invoke is the feeling of a Hasidic melody, and Hasidic music is- is very broad and- and very creative and very deep.
In this excerpt we hear Statman defining and playing Klezmer music. [2:29]