Clarinetist German Goldenshteyn was a vital link to the klezmer traditions of a bygone world, documenting more than one thousand folk songs that together form the bedrock of Yiddish musical culture. Born September 2, 1934, in Otaci, Romania, Goldenshteyn was orphaned during World War II, and he and his brothers sold cigarettes and matches on the street to survive -- when the Soviet Union occupied their homeland in late 1944, they were sent to an orphanage in Odessa. There, a musical aptitude test singled out Goldenshteyn's promise and he was transferred to a military music school, where he studied clarinet -- upon graduating in 1949, he played with a series of Red Army bands, and from 1953 to 1956 served his official military duty. Goldenshteyn then settled in the Ukraine, working as a machinist while moonlighting in a local wedding band -- there he learned a wide assortment of songs of Jewish, Russian, Balkan, and Gypsy origins, diligently transcribing their lyrics and melodies in notebooks in an effort to expand the group's repertoire. When Goldenshteyn relocated to the U.S. in 1994, he brought his notebooks with him, and upon settling in Brooklyn he was feted by the musicians and archivists spearheading a klezmer revival that began in earnest two decades earlier -- many of the songs in Goldenshteyn's possession were previously undocumented, combining with his live performances and workshops to shed extraordinary new light on a Yiddish musical tradition previously known almost exclusively via old 78s. Just weeks following the release of the CD German Goldenshteyn: A Living Tradition, he suffered a fatal heart attack while fishing on Long Island on June 10, 2006. ~ Jason AnkenyPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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