Three Klezmer Miniatures (Philip Sparke)

Three Klezmer Miniatures is Philip Sparke’s third work based on traditional Jewish klezmer melodies, after Shalom! and A Klezmer Karnival.

Klezmer music originated in the 'shtetl' (villages) and the ghettos of Eastern Europe, where itinerant Jewish troubadours, known as 'klezmorim', had performed at celebrations, particularly weddings, since the early Middle Ages.

'Klezmer' is a Yiddish term combining the Hebrew words 'kley' (instrument) and 'zemer' (song) and the roots of the style are found in secular melodies, popular dances, Jewish 'hazanut' (cantorial music) and also the 'nigunim', the wordless melodies intoned by the 'Hasidim' (orthodox Jews).

Since the 16th century, lyrics had been added to klezmer music, due to the 'badkhn' (the master of ceremony at weddings), to the 'Purimshpil' (the play of Esther at Purim) and to traditions of the Yiddish theatre, but the term gradually became synonymous with instrumental music, particularly featuring the violin and clarinet.

Three Klezmer Miniatures uses the following traditional tunes:-

1. Sham Harei Golan (There are the mountains of Golan) and Nigun Shel Yossi, a circle dance

2. Tumbalalaika, a Russian Jewish love song

3. Hava Nagila, perhaps the most famous of all Jewish folk dances; the title means ‘let us rejoice’.