Giora Feidman

Giora Feidman
Preserver and Reviver of Tradition

Musical history alive – more than 50 years after Giora Feidman’s first stage appearance this is still true. As one of the most important interpreters of contemporary music, over the decades Giora Feidman has evolved into a phenomenon. He is an artist, a discoverer and a sensation, a tireless ambassador with an act of undiminished appeal.

It is difficult to describe, what he does on the stage with his clarinet, how it laughs, cries and narrates, captivating his listeners, constantly amazing them with something new. And still Giora Feidman stays on the lookout for opportunities to present his music again and again in a new way. His claim to versatility, his own innovative interpretations of tango, jazz, classical music and Klezmer, merge to become a great and magnificent complete works. The impressive range of his musical activities is mirrored in his current ventures. Tours with his ensembles, numerous solo performances as well as his participation in different film, theatre and music projects show that Giora Feidman has long ago become an all-round artist. His excellence comes from a distinctive personal style, formed from his cultural, religious and musical roots.

In 1936, born as the son of a Jewish immigrant in Argentina, his youth is hallmarked by the Jewish musical tradition of the Klezmer. After a classical music education, Giora Feidman becomes a member of the symphony and opera orchestra at the Teatro Ccolón in Buenos Aires. Two years later, an appointment as the youngest clarinettist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra follows. In a membership spanning almost two decades, he works with every eminent conductor of the day. During this time Giora Feidman develops his appreciation of music as “the language of the innermost soul”, as a vehicle for understanding which overcomes all boundaries.

At the beginning of the seventies, Feidman leaves the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and commences with his musical message - the worldwide renaissance of the old Klezmer tradition, which he enriches with multifaceted styles of classical and modern music. From New York, where he is celebrated as the “King of Klezmer”, he paves the way for the “Jewish Soul” on the classical concert stage. He thus presents his audience, not just with a very personal interpretation of Klezmer, but with a boundless homage to life. At the same time his music is continually developing. Together with his quartet, which accompanies him during his guest performances worldwide, Giora Feidman branches off in new directions. Going back to the roots of his Argentinian native country, the tango becomes a quintessential part of his music. With his current ventures Spirit of Music, Tango Klezmer and Dance of Joy or “Two Religions – One Language: Music”, the clarinetist builds a bridge between cultures. The symbiosis is just as exciting as it is fascinating, emanating from Feidman’s own biographical background.
Parallel to this, Feidman remains loyal to his musical beginnings, his path characterised by appearances with numerous well-known orchestras and ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet or the Polish Chamber Philharmonic, and CD productions with, among others, the Berlin Symphonikern (Berlin Symphony Orchestra) and the Philharmonischen Kammerorchester München (Munich Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra). In July 2002, he combines a tour with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester (Munich Radio Orchestra) with an event the music world have awaited: Giora Feidman plays Mozart’s Concert for Clarinets.

Furthermore, the artist presents himself within the framework of the most diverse projects. Among these, he recorded a soundtrack for the silent film classic “The Golem” as well as a journey through past centuries, which he has been making for the last few years with the organist, Matthias Eisenberg. In Germany, Feidman’s extraordinary success begins in 1984 with his appearance in Peter Zadek’s since-legendary production, “Ghetto”. Feidman’s talent, almost bestowing his clarinet with acting abilities, continues in 1994 in the operas “Der Rattenfänger” (“The Pied Piper”) (Dortmund) and “Lilith” (Bayreuth 1996) as well as the play “Meschugge vor Hoffnung” (“Crazy with Hope”) in the Hamburger Kammerspiele.

International film projects augment this musical sphere. At the beginning of the nineties, Giora Feidman responds to an invitation from Steven Spielberg and, together with Itzhak Perlman, he achieves an Academy Award for the film music of “Schindler’s List”. Feidman has a central cameo performance in both the triumphant film, “Beyond the Silence” (by Caroline Link) and a film about the life of the “Comedian Harmonists” under the direction of Joseph Vilsmaier. In both soundtracks he interprets compositions from Ora Bat Chaim. The music of the painter, poetess and composer, Ora Bat Chaim, is for Giora Feidman the symbol of understanding. At the Remembrance Ceremony for the Victims of National Socialism, he performs, together with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) in the Plenarsaal des Deutschen Bundestages (Chamber of the German Parliament), the debut performance of her composition “Love”. The album “Love – Giora Feidman plays Ora Bat Chaim” is rewarded with the “Echo Classic 2003” for the category “Classic without Boundaries” by the Deutsche Phonoakademie. For the album he received the “Echo Classic 2003” in the “Classics without Boundaries” category from the Deutschen Phonoakademie (German Sound Academy). In 2004/5 this amazing artist is thrilling his audiences on extensive tours throughout Europe. One of his current projects is “Nothing but Music” a musical with a cast of international actors and musicians, using poetic images to narrate a musical ramble around the world and through the history of the twentieth century, in which the great clarinetist conducts as “Spirit of Music”.

The dream of achieving a music which overcomes all barriers has long ago become a reality for Giora Feidman. More than a sheer musical experience, his concerts have become the medium of a new dialogue. In 2001 he was honored with the Great Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Großen Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande). 2005 he is awarded the international „Brückepreis“ of the city of Görlitz / Zgorzelec for his contribution to international understanding. In that year in August one highlight of his artistic works was the performance at the XX World Youth Day in Cologne with an audience of 800.000 people and Pope Benedict XVI. In march 2006 Giora will celebrate his 70th birthday and he will be honoured with a TV documentation to his birthday.

“Long live Giora, his clarinet and his music! He builds bridges between generations, cultures and classes, and he does it with perfect artistry!” Leonard Bernstein once wrote about the great clarinettist. His enthusiastic opinion is still true today.