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German Goldensheteyn (1934 - 2006)

Clarinetist and musicologist German Goldenshteyn was born in 1934 in the Bessarabian shtetl of Otaci, then in Romania, now in Moldova. He lost his parents in the Holocaust and after the war, he and his siblings entered an orphanage in Odessa. As a young man, Goldenshteyn successfully auditioned for the army band school, after which he spent 10 years playing in military orchestras and completing his service.

Goldenshteyn later studied at a technical institute in Kiev, earning an engineering degree, and became a machinist in the town of Mohyliv-Podilskyi on the Ukrainian border with Moldavia. It was there he met some older musicians at a Jewish wedding, and had another life-changing audition: the clarinetist of the wedding band handed him his horn and commanded, "play."

From the mid 1950s until he came to the United States in 1994, Goldenshteyn played thousands of "simchas" or parties. He learned melodies quickly, but found he could not retain too many simultaneously. So, whenever he learned a new song, he would write it down so as not to forget it. Over time, German managed "not to forget" more than 800 melodies, most of which are missing in American klezmer music.

Goldenshteyn became a favorite teacher at festivals such as KlezKamp and KlezKanada, and as his popularity grew, he received more invitations, including a concert in Krakow, Poland and a two-week teaching engagement in Weimar, Germany. At KlezKamp in December of 2005, he and an all-star rhythm section recorded what would become his first CD, A Living Tradition. He had the CD in his hands for about a month before he passed away from a heart attack while fishing with his son-in-law.

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Source: Copyright 2006 NPR

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German Goldensheteyn (1934 - 2006)

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