Jewish Music in Berlin

Jewish Music in Berlin

From Yiddish Pop to Unkosher Parties

Sharon Brauner – © Benno Kraehahn
Sharon Brauner – © Mathias Bothor
Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird – © Yoni Goldstein
Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird – © Irina Steinbrecher
klezmeyers – © Anne Dobis
Avi Avital & Omer Avital – © Andreas Caspari
Shlomo Artzi – © Yaron Shilon

More than just klezmer: in Berlin's vibrant music scene, young artists combine Jewish traditions with modern styles.

Anyone who associates Jewish music exclusively with klezmer will be in for a surprise in Berlin. Increasingly, young artists are combining Jewish musical traditions with elements of modern styles. The range covers the entire gambit of genres. While events across the city have looked back on the capital's cultural diversity in the 1920s as part of Berlin’s current theme of the year, "Diversity Destroyed", a vibrant and forward-looking development can also be seen on the stages of today.

This is because Jewish Berlin is much more than just a past phenomenon to be remembered and commemorated; it is an active part of the present-day identity of the city. It's exciting to discover the diverse ways Berlin artists are mixing their own styles with Jewish traditions and experiences to create something entirely new. We've put together a small selection for you here below.

Yiddish Evergreens in a New Guise

Classics such as "Bei mir bist du sheyn" are anything but old-fashioned or pure nostalgia for singer Sharon Brauner. Brauner, who grew up in West Berlin, combines the songs of her childhood with elements from jazz and pop, Balkan polka, Arabic music, and even South American rhythms on her album Jewels. www.sharonbrauner.de

Yiddish Way of Life in the 21st Century

On her album Jewdyssee, German-Israeli artist Maya Saban celebrates the "Yiddish way of life in the 21st century" by taking us on a musical odyssey through tradition, present and future, in a mixture of electro beats, trumpets and clarinets. The musician has been recently working for Lena Meyer-Landrut’s team on the German TV show The Voice Kids, but also appears regularly on Berlin concert stages. www.mayasaban.de

Jewish Avant-Garde with Tradition

American artist Daniel Kahn refuses to be pigeon-holed, describing the music of his band The Painted Bird as "a mixture of Klezmer, radical Yiddish songs, political cabaret and punk folk." He sings in English, German and Yiddish and has already memorialised his adopted home of Berlin in songs such as "Görlitzer Park". On February 15, 2014, at Maxim-Gorki-Theater. www.paintedbird.de

Contemporary Klezmer

More and more Berlin ensembles are winning over audiences with variations of classic klezmer. Among these groups are the three instrumentalists Franziska Orso (clarinet), Robert Kessler (guitar) and David Hagen (bass), who appear together as the Klezmeyers. The trio spices up elements of klezmer with flamenco, tango, jazz and Arabic rhythms. www.klezmeyers.de

Gipsy Jazz and Russian Swing

Eastern European folk and gypsy jazz have also found a home on the Spree. Clärchens Ballhaus invites you to join them once a month as they travel to a bygone era when house band Gipsy Restaurant plays in the beautiful hall of mirrors. The Trio Scho have brought Russian swing and ballads from the 1920s to the city as well. The three musicians from the Ukraine have been performing on Berlin's stages since the early '90s; they perform regulary in Berlin, e.g. at the Café Volant, at the Grüner Salon of the Volksbühne and at Mutter Fourage. www.musikkollektiv.de

Unkosher Parties

Modern Jewish culture in Berlin is also closely associated with Berlin's club culture. DJ Aviv Netter's gay-Jewish meschugge parties have become some of the trendiest events in the Berlin nightlife in recent years. The unkosher parties continue every other Saturday in Berlin-Mitte (www.zurmoebelfabrik.de). Israeli-style club nights are also hugely popular, with DJs from Tel Aviv performing regularly in Berlin.

Festivals and More

From 04–14 August 2014, the Jewish Culture Days invite renown artists. Last year's performers included Giora Feidmann, Avi Avital & Omer Avital as well as Shlomo Artzi. During the Jüdischer Kultursommer (Jewish Culture Summer), the Jüdisches Museum Berlin (Jewish Museum) will also be presenting a series of concerts giving an exciting overview of contemporary Jewish music.

A selection of upcoming concerts and events can be found on our special Jewish Berlin page under Events. You can also search for individual artists or themes in our event calendar.