The Philadelphia Klezmer Family Tradition

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Hour 2

Drummer ELAINE HOFFMAN WATTS is one of the last ‘native speakers’ of Klezmer music. Her father put drum sticks in her hands and taught her to play the folk dance tunes when she was a toddler. Jacob Hoffman was from what is now the Ukraine – Klezmer music was brought over from Eastern Europe from Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s. She went on to become the first woman accepted and to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music in percussion studies. Hoffman Watts preserved her family’s sheet music from the ‘old world,’ and has been keeping it alive by playing and teaching the songs and techniques to students inside and outside the family. Hoffman Watts and her daughter, SUSAN WATTS, a classical trumpeter and vocalist who often plays with her mother, come into the studio to discuss what it’s like to be third and fourth generation klezmorim. Elaine Hoffman Watts won the prestigious NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 2007 and there is a new documentary about the family called, “Eatala: A Life in Klezmer.”

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[audio: 120110_110630.mp3]

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