FRANKEL Lt Joseph (1885 – 1953)

Joseph Frankel was born in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine). Kiev conservatory trained bandmaster and a band leader in the Tzarist army, he toured the US in 1904 leading the 14th Regiment Military Band. In the early 1910s he led theatre orchestras in New York. When WW1 started Joseph Frankel was touring South America with a Russian Symphony orchestra. He took US citizenship and became a band leader in the US army.

After the war he recorded traditional tunes as well as his own contemporary compositions including ’Yiddishe Blues’.

"Yiddishe Blues" is a 1918 experiment by Joseph Frankel. The piece blends ragtime sensibility in instrumentation and syncopation, a klezmer melodic line with "Mi Shebeyrekh" cantorial mode. By insisting on including the rank "Lt.", Frankel was already signaling to American-ness for the Jewish nation. Suitably, Frankel was a band officer in both the Russian and American armies, a fact that reveals the futility of trying to anchor any specific Jewish national identity in the XXth century. Even as Frankel was evolving a hyphenated Jewish-American musical identity, other bandleaders were still "national" to reference the European side, as in Abe Schwartz’s "National Hora". Updating Frankel’s work of hybridization has become basic to recent klezmer bands.

Yiddishe blues
Yiddelach shimmy tantz

Listen to

In case the music player doesn't open, you must allow the opening of pop-ups for the website iemj.org in your browser settings.

  • Yiddishe blues

  • Yiddelach shimmy tantz

Lire tout

You may also like

Conference: music, language and Jewish songs

Filmed conference (beneath), as part of the 1st edition of “Campus en Musique” festival, about music, languages and Jewish songs, by Hervé Roten, (…)

Du salon au front : Fernand Halphen (1872-1917), composer, patron and director of military music

A collective work published in April 2017 under the direction of Laure Schnapper, with the collaboration of Pierre-André Meyer – Preface by Hervé (…)

Discovering Jewish music: a conference by Hervé Roten

On May 3rd 2017 at 7 pm in the synagogue of Bordeaux, Hervé Roten will hold a conference on Jewish music, illustrated with many audio and video (…)

Marc-Alain Ouaknin invites Hervé Roten on his radio show « Talmudiques » broadcasted on France Culture

Radion Program on April 9 and 16 2017, from 9h10 am to 9h42 am. The blooming encounters of Jewish traditional songs with French variety gave (…)

Centennial of the passing of Fernand Halphen

For the centennial year of the passing of Fernand Halphen (1872 - 1917), several events will take place : Concerts, publication of a collective (…)