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The Jewish Tsimbl with Joshua Horowitz

  • The Jewish Community Library 1835 Ellis St. San Francisco United States (map)
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Free admission with free garage parking on Pierce St between Ellis and Eddy streets.

The tsimbl (trapeziform hammered dulcimer) formed the rhythmic backbone of many klezmer ensembles as early as the sixteenth century, and was ubiquitous enough to have generated the Ashkenazi family name “Zimbalist.” In Yiddish, the phrase “tsu nemen im afn tsimbl” (to take him over the tsimbl) means to scrutinize someone, and the Polish byword, “ty cymbale!” (you idiot!), is still in use today. The lore surrounding the instrument is full of references to the wandering Jew and the instrument itself has alternated as a symbol of both poverty and wealth, Jew and Gentile. Josh Horowitz will perform live and archival recorded examples of the tsimbl, present an historical account of the instrument and its progenitors, and discuss why it has beguiled audiences and writers for over four hundred years.

Joshua Horowitz is a composer who plays chromatic button accordion, cimbalom, and piano. He is founder and director of the group Budowitz, a founding member of Veretski Pass, and has performed and recorded with Itzhak Perlman, Theodore Bikel, and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Horowitz has received more than forty international awards for his work. His books include The Ultimate Klezmer and The Sephardic Songbook.