Category: Popular entertainment

Romance is in the Air: Efrem Zimbalist & Alma Gluck

By , June 25, 2014 9:26 am
Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist

Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist

Before there was Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt…before there was Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall…before there was Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton…There was Efrem Zimbalist and Alma Gluck.

A little over100 years ago, a nice Jewish boy who happened to be a violin genius  met a lovely Jewish young woman who was making a name for herself as a singer. I guess you could say that when these two Jewish superstars of classical music fell in love they were destined to make beautiful music together.

The Zimbalist-Gluck romance provided lots of material for the gossips of their day. While the idea of such a wonderful pairing of talents was thrilling, there were those who pointed out that Gluck was six years older, as well as a divorcee with a daughter. Scandalous!

 

Read more about Alma Gluck’s relationship with Efrem Zimbalist.

Read more about Efrem Zimbalist.

Browse 40 recordings the talented couple made together.

Kultur 2014

By , February 10, 2014 10:46 am

 March 1 – 8, 2014

6th Annual Kultur Celebration

Click here for full schedule and more information

                                                      

                    Florida Atlantic University Libraries

 

Festival Highlights

Saturday, March 1, 2014 @ 7:00 p.m

Film: “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness”

Chock full of  humor, this documentary film explores the rebellious life of Sholem Aleichem as he experiences the tug of war between nostalgia and a modern Jewish identity.

 

Sunday, March 2, 2014 @ 3:00 p.m.

Klezmer Company Orchestra — ¡Jubano Jazz!

Energetic arrangements of Klezmer melodies fused with Latin percussion, Argentinean Tango and Afro-Cuban dance beats and revitalized classic songs from the Yiddish theatre.

 

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 @ 2:00 p.m.
Martin Bookspan Reminisces: My famous musical friends

Renowned PBS commentator of Live from Lincoln Center, Martin Bookspan is also a noted author,  and the well-known host for live radio broadcasts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. He shares personal stories and photographs about his friendships with legends such as Serge Koussevitzky, Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Jan Pierce, Richard Tucker and Michael Tilson Thomas. Presented in conjunction with the Judaica Sound Archives.

 

Thursday, March 6, 2014 @ 2:00 p.m.

Leonard Lehrman, pianist and Helene Williams, soprano, return to Kultur Festival with guest cantors from New York City: soprano Faith Steinsnyder and tenor David Perper performing a unique concert of “Jewish Opera” in various languages. Highlights include excerpts of Halévy’s famous La Juive, Spektor’s Lady of the Castle, Mandelbaum’s The Village, Blitzstein/Lehrman’s Tales of Malamud, and arias by Goldfaden.

RebbeSoul: Jewish roots, world music

By , January 14, 2014 10:04 am

Deeply emotional and rooted in the ancient songs of Judaism, the music of RebbeSoul brings a modern vibe that re-imagines the music of our ancestors. This is not your grandmother’s Jewish Music.  This is not some crazy mash-up of eclectic sounds.  This is spiritually-based music with modern sensibilities and a deep respect for the past.

After earning a degree in engineering, Bruce Burger (aka RebbeSoul)set off to explore L.A.’s music scene.

Leaving parental expectations and  upstate New York’s brilliant autumns and wintry snows behind him,  it was in L.A. that he finally found his sound….and his voice.

At the age of 22, after sharing a Shabbat dinner with an Orthodox family he was inspired to write “Sister Sarah.”  Despite having been a secular Jew for many years, this experience touched him so deeply that he was moved to take on the name RebbeSoul.

As he added the melodies of nigunim and prayers to his repertoire he made a decision. “Every time I play as RebbeSoul, I put something on my head….To the great Rebbes, a nigun, a melody, is something that comes from the heart and goes straight to heaven without anything getting in the way.  So when I do it, I want to make sure there is something on my head, out of respect.”

To strengthen his connection to the Jewish people even further, Burger made aliya in 2007. Now residing in Zichron Ya’acov, he is exploring his musical roots and enjoying where his musical journey is taking him.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU’s Wimberly Library is delighted to be able to add Bruce Burger as our newest JSA featured performer. Click on any album below.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

By , December 17, 2013 8:00 am

You may ask yourself… how did a Yiddish story by Sholem Aleichem, based on a surrealistic painting by Marc Chagal, become one of the world’s most popular shows?

You may ask yourself…. how could a 1964 Broadway musical touch audiences after 50 years?

But, of course…. if you know “Fiddler on the Roof” you wouldn’t have to ask!

“The Fiddler,” as depicted by Marc Chagal, symbolizes the struggle for survival and balance in a precarious world.  A precarious world?  That is something Jews know a little something about.

From Tevye’s confident reliance on “Tradition” to the sweet naiveté of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker;” from Tevye’s ultimate acceptance of his life in “If I Were a Rich Man”  to the bitter-sweet realization that life is an ever-changing landscape in “Sunrise, Sunset;” the collaboration of Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) touches our hearts with one of life’s greatest lessons.

We yearn for stability and tradition while, at the same time, we are compelled to adapt to change.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries is proud of its role in preserving the traditions of Jewish culture despite our ever-changing world. Please consider making a financial contribution to help us fulfill our mission.

Click here to see albums and hear snippets.

Can “Boardwalk Empire” era Jewish piano rolls still find an audience?

By , October 14, 2013 8:35 am

Vintage Jewish piano roll boxes

Player pianos, pianolas and piano rolls were all the rage during Prohibition. 

By the early 1920′s new advances in piano-roll technology gave rise to a complex, performance-oriented style of music that became the soundtrack of an era.

All types of music were recorded on piano rolls, from Ragtime  to folk songs; from Jazz to Cantorial masterpieces. So….can these “Boardwalk Empire” era Jewish piano rolls still find an audience in today’s  fast-paced electronic world?

Can these relics of another age resonate with a modern audience?

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries invited Bob Berkman, one of the last great piano roll aficionados, to demonstrate his skills before a live audience….and…..his appearance was a huge success!

Yet, relatively few people have ever had the pleasure of  attending  a live pianola concert featuring Bob Berkman and his authentic piano rolls.

A wonderful opportunity

Bob Berkman

Now the JSA is giving you the chance to peek behind the scenes, get a front row seat and enjoy the experience of a by-gone era.

These clips were created from video taken at Bob Berkman’s performance during FAU Library’s 2013 kultur festival by Alethea Perez, FAU Recorded Sound Archives operations coordinator.

(1) Bob Berkman explains how the pianola works.

(2) Bob Berkman sets up the pianola.

(3) Bob Berkman shares some historical facts about the pianola and plays some tunes.

Related Links:  Bio     Online Collection

 

 

Pianola pushed up to piano and ready to play.

 

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Sophie Tucker: Last of the Red-Hot Mamas

By , September 16, 2013 10:00 am

 

Known as the Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Sophie Tucker had a career that began in vaudeville, embraced the new jazz age of the 1920’s and lasted well into the 1960s.

Widely known for her bawdy humor (which may seem tame by today’s standards) and her big personality, she never lost touch with her Jewish roots.

Sophie Tucker ‘s original Decca rendition of My Yiddishe Momme, recorded in 1928, featured an English version on Side A and a Yiddish version on Side B.  Among the recordings she made on the Mercury label beginning in the 1950s was this rendition of My Mother’s Sabbath Candles, also in both English and Yiddish versions.

Sophie Tucker quotes

I couldn’t make [Momme] understand that it wasn’t a career that I was after. It was just that I wanted a life that didn’t mean spending most of it at the cookstove and the kitchen sink. (Some of the Days, 1945)

Everyone knew the theater was to be closed down, and a landmark in show business would be gone. That feeling got into the acts. The whole place, even the performers, stank of decay. I seemed to smell it. It challenged me. I was determined to give the audience the idea: why brood over yesterday? We have tomorrow. As I sang I could feel the atmosphere change. The gloom began to lift, the spirit which formerly filled the Palace and which made it famous among vaudeville houses the world over came back. That’s what an entertainer can do. (Concerning the November 19, 1932 closing of the Palace theater in NYC, i.e. the end of vaudeville.)

Selected items from our collection of Sophie Tucker recordings.

Sophie Tucker’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Autographed inside flap from copy of Tucker’s autobiography

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Molly Picon

By , May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

Defying expectations, changing the rules, and making us laugh.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries honors the work and life of Molly Picon. Compiling 58 of her earliest songs produced on 78 rpm records and four of her LP albums produced later in her career, the JSA invites you to revisit the talents of a truly great Jewish female icon.

Who was Molly Picon?

She was an actress, singer, and comedian whose career spanned over 70 years. Debuting in the Yiddish Theater at the age of 6 she emerged as a respected American actress, performing in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) with Frank Sinatra, and having starring roles on Broadway in Milk & Honey (1961) and  film, Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

Molly Picon’s career followed Yiddish culture from the shtetl into mainstream America. Small and very youthful-looking she often had to fight to be taken seriously. She wore male clothing as a disguise through most of her breakout performance in Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936) and many of her other early roles, including the well-known “Yankele.” In today’s world she might be considered to be a voice for women’s rights.

Click here for Molly’s LP albums.

Click here for Molly’s 78 rpm recordings.

Click here to see film clip of a very young Molly Picon singing the title song from Yid’l Mit’n Fidl.

 

 

Hava Nagila (the movie) at FAU

By , March 20, 2013 11:31 am

See the movie about a song we all know.

This documentary is filled with nostalgia, humor, “Who knew?” information and old home movie clips (I could swear I saw my Aunt Sadie dancing at a Bar Mitzvah!)

Tracing the origins of Hava Nagila from the shtetls of Europe to Israel, and on to New York and Los Angeles, we come to understand how this song became a part of our family turning up at every Bar Mitzvah and wedding.

Cameos by Connie Francis, Harry Bellafonte, Irving Fields, Leonard Nimoy, and Glen Campbell feel like visits with old friends. Want a feel-good movie that will touch your heart? This movie is a must-see for anyone who knows how to dance the hora!

CLICK here for showtimes and tickets

777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 •

561.549.2600

 

Jewish music and arts festival at FAU

By , February 18, 2013 3:19 pm

March 2 – 8, 2013

Click here for full information about all Kultur events

 

 2nd Avenue Jazz n’ Jive

   Aaron Kula’s KCO

   Sunday, 3/3/13 @ 3pm

   Carole & Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium

   FAU Boca Raton Campus

 

My Friends Leonard Bernstein & Aaron Copland

Martin Bookspan

Tuesday, 3/5/13 @ 2pm

Wimberly Library 5th floor

FAU Boca Raton Campus

 

  KLEZMEROLA: Yiddish Music on the Pianola

   Bob Berkman

   Friday, 3/8/13 @ 2pm

   Wimberly Library 5th floor

   FAU Boca Raton Campus

   Click here to listen to Bob Berkman recordings

   Click here to find out more about experiencing “nostalgia with a twist”, old time good fun and a virtuoso performance unlike anything you have heard before.

 

Tickets: click here                                          Call 1-800-564-9539

 

Bob Berkman: Nostalgia with a twist

By , October 1, 2012 2:33 pm

Bob Berkman’s pianola brings a rich new sound to vintage early 20th century Jewish music

The first time I heard Bob Berkman’s CD, Klezmerola, I just couldn’t stop playing it. I loved the old time sound that Bob was able to achieve with his pianola. I loved the way the sound of the pianola (player piano) augmented the  impact of the music that had once defined a generation of Jews and now was fading from memory.

I am delighted that the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University can now boast a collection of 47 Jewish songs by America’s premier pianolist, Bob Berkman.

I wrote the following review in September 2008 for the Association of Jewish Libraries. After listening to the CD many times since then, I still feel the same way.

“Take an almost vanished technology (player pianos), add vintage Jewish music and stir with just a hint of ragtime and what do you get? Klezmerola! An absolutely delightful CD album that is fun, fresh and freylekh. In this album of “Jewish music from rare piano rolls” Bob Berkman does an incredible job of bringing the music to life with a vitality achieved by actually foot-pumping an old upright player piano. The accompanying 16 page booklet provides information about each song and about the rediscovery of Jewish piano rolls. Such old familiar Yiddish songs as “Odesser Bulgar,” “Yosel,” and “Die Griene Cosina” seem especially well-suited for Bob Berkman’s pianola interpretations. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite track.  I loved them all!”

In the liner notes for his two volume CD, Klezmerola at the Yiddish Theater, Bob Berkman tells us that ” Piano roll manufacturers…were eager to record and sell current hits, and for attracting immigrant Jewish customers there was no greater source than Yiddish Theater…The market was never a large one…and surviving examples are rare.” The music on these three CDs took over 35 years to assemble.

The piano rolls only contain notes (like sheet music). Bringing them to life with dynamics, accents, phrasing, and emotion is the work of the pianolist, the person operating the player piano. Bob Berkman’s unique talent revitalizes this vintage music, providing a generous portion of nostalgia. . . . with a twist!

Bob Berkman’s love affair with the pianola began in 1975 when he was hired by QRS in Buffalo, NY, the world’s last remaining piano roll manufacturer. His talents brought him the opportunity to work on such films as Ragtime, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, and Reds ( in cooperation with  Stephen Sondheim). He has appeared on NPR, BBC, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Using a 1912 “push-up” portable pianola, Berkman effectively turns any piano into a player piano allowing him to perform  in venues all across America. In great demand as a speaker and performer, his unique and deeply personal work with Jewish rolls has been especially gratifying to him.  His important discovery of George Gershwin’s only Jewish piano roll and the haunting A Gitte Nacht by the obscure Samuel Perlstein are among his most treasured accomplishments.

For information about how to buy recordings by Bob Berkman, please click here.

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