Klezmer music originated in the 'shtetl' (villages) and the ghettos of Eastern Europe, where itinerant Jewish troubadours, known as 'klezmorim', performed at joyful events ('simkhes'), particularly weddings, since the early middle age till the nazi and Stalinian prosecutions.
It was inspired by secular melodies, popular dances, 'khazones' (khazanut, Jewish liturgy) as well as by the 'nigunim', the simple and often wordless melodies, intended by the 'Hasidim' (orthodox Jews) for approaching God in a kind of ecstatic communion.
In (mutual) contact with Slavonic, Greek, Ottoman (Turkish), Gypsy and -later- American jazz musicians, using typical scales, tempo and rhythm changes, slight dissonance and a touch of improvisation, the 'klezmorim' acquired the ability to evoke all kinds of emotions, through a very diversified music.With its artistic copiousness and its distinctive sound, Klezmer music is unique, easily recognizable and widely appreciated, both by 'ethnic insiders' and by larger audiences, all around the world. Klezmer music is also an invitation to dance and goes nowadays through a real revival.
Since the sixteenth century, lyrics have been added to the Klezmer music, due to the 'badkhn' (the wedding master of ceremony), to the 'Purimshpil' (the play of Esther at Purim feast), and to the Yiddish theater.
Klezmer music and Yiddish songs include nowadays a huge repertoire in which the whole gamut of human emotions can be expressed, from joy to despair, from devotion to revolt and from meditation to drunkenness, without forgetting Jewish humor and... love!