The Transformation of a Klezmer Dance Genre
Within the repertoire of klezmer music in eastern Europe, the bulgarish was a regional phenomenon, originating in Bessarabia as the bulgărească, and then spreading as the klezmer bulgarish to parts of Eastern Ukraine. In America between 1881 and 1920, however, the bulgarish became increasingly identified as a major genre of klezmer dance music for Jews of various regional backgrounds. This chapter traces the development of a single klezmer dance genre, from the bulgărească of the Moldavian lăuteri (professional musicians), to the bulgarish of the Moldavian and Ukrainian klezmorim, and then to the bulgar of the klezmorim in the United States. It interprets the significance of this transformation, contrasting the situation in the Old World with the adaptation of this dance genre to suit the needs of the largely proletarianized Jewish immigrants in America during the first half of the twentieth century. In order to explain the significance of the bulgarish within American klezmer music, it introduces several points about the nature of klezmer professionalism and the composition of the klezmer repertoire.
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