Coming home late – Giora Feidman’s Klezmer


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Why is music the first form of communication between people? How does music speak? Do we need sound to produce music? These are only a few questions posed by Giora Feidman, who the media acclaims as the “Israeli miracle clarinettist”. This man is an intense, philosophical, music making dervish, who thinks about all these questions and passes the answers on enthusiastically. Giora Feidman plays a decisive role in the revival of klezmer tradition in America, Israel and Europe, which had been pushed out by pop music.


ZDF, arte, 1996
Length: 80 minutes
Written and directed by: Klaas Rusticus
Camera: Jörg Jeshel, Konstantin Kröning
Editor: Fred Geerling
Commissioning editors: Gabriele Faust, Olaf Rosenberg
An Atlantis-Film Production

The film accompanies the musician Feidman on concerts at concert houses and synagogues; into rehearsal rooms, where he gives private and group lessons; on the street, where he makes music with his friends from all over the world; and to his master class “The Art of Klezmer”, which he taught at the conservatory of Lübeck in 1995.

Especially by dealing with the young master students, Feidman makes plain his theoretical approach, which he explains during intense discussions with the filmmaker. “Yes, Klezmer is Jewish,” he says. “It’s formed by the Thora, which combines music and Jewish prayer. It’s affected by the 2.000-year migration of the Jews, who absorbed musical influences from everywhere.” Although for Feidman, Klezmer is not just “Jewish music”, but rather “music”. Like any other music form, it’s about national, global, and human language.

He starts his lesson by posing the question, “Do we need sound to produce music?” He demonstrates to his students, that common silence is the first music, they can produce together. Feidman doesn’t only teach. He makes them conduct the silence as well as sing their pulse. He wants to make his ideas “experiencable”.

Feidman’s nation-wide “Klezmer” concept becomes even clearer during private lessons. “Klezmer” means “instrument of music”. Feidman’s first instrument is his body. The “inner voice” becomes audible through him and his breath. “The clarinet is the instrument of my soul”, the teacher says. Such intensity, such an intimate concept of skill, transforms the lessons of many students into therapy. Many barriers have to be broken through, before the “inner voice” ventures out and expresses itself in the sounds of the clarinet.