Michael Alpert


Michael Alpert (born 1954, Los Angeles, California) is a klezmer musician and Yiddish singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, scholar and educator who has been called a key figure[1] in the klezmer revitalization of the 1970s and 1980s.[2] He has played in a number of groups since that time, including The An-Sky Ensemble,[3] Brave Old World, Khevrisa, Kapelye, The Brothers Nazaroff and Voices of Ashkenaz, and collaborated with clarinetist David Krakauer, hip-hop artist Socalled, singer/songwriter Daniel Kahn and bandurist Julian Kytasty. Alpert is also a pioneering teacher and researcher of Yiddish traditional dance and has been central to restoring Yiddish dance to its time-honored place alongside klezmer music as a key component of East European Jewish expressive culture.[4] He is the recipient of a 2015 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States government's highest lifetime honor to its folk and traditional artists.[5]

Alpert in 2016

As of 2022 since circa 2015, Alpert continues to perform, sometimes in a duo with Scottish fiddler Gica Loening, and teach worldwide from his home in northeastern Scotland.[6][7]

In addition to performance and teaching, Alpert has travelled throughout Eastern Europe and the Americas conducting ethnographic research and documentation of Jewish traditional musicians and singers. His audio and video fieldwork archive resides at the American Folklife Center of the U.S. Library of Congress, and his scholarly publications include an article in American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots about Warsaw-born klezmer drummer Ben Bazyler (1922-1990). (readable here on Google Books). He can be credited with initiating the revival of rhythmic and harmonic "sekund" violin playing in klezmer music, a key technique and voice within traditional klezmer string ensembles which had fallen out of use in Yiddish music before the klezmer revitalization.[8]

Alpert was musical director of the 1995 PBS Great Performances special Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House (1996 Emmy Award for Outstanding Cultural Music-Dance Program and Golden Rose (Montreux) for same) and co-producer of the two Perlman klezmer CDs on the Angel Records/EMI label.[9]


  1. ^ Slobin, Mark (2000). Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World. American Musicspheres. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0195131246.
  2. ^ "Brave Old World: Home of the Braves". Archived from the original on January 7, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "The An-Sky Ensemble". Center for Traditional Music and Dance. 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2018.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Gelfand, Alexander (February 20, 2008). "Symposium Seeks To Save Yiddish Dance". forward.com. The Forward Association. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  5. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2015". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  6. ^ "Jewish music, learning, and food in St Andrews". Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. February 21, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  7. ^ "July 8 [2017]: Fiddle Tunes Finale". Centrum. July 5, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Cohen, Bob (2009). "Jewish Fiddle". www.dinayekapelye.com. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  9. ^ Jon Pareles (July 4, 1996). "MUSIC REVIEW;A Classicist Romps In a Revival Of Klezmer". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2021.

External linksEdit

  • Michael Alpert at AllMusic  
  • Michael Alpert discography at Discogs  
  • Michael Alpert 2015 article, bibliography, discography, and filmography, at Masters of Traditional Arts of Documentary Arts
  • Interviews with some klezmer revivalists including Alpert
  • In the Fiddler's House link on Amazon.com