Joel Rubin

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Joel Rubin (born October 14, 1955 in Los Angeles) is a Jewish musician known for being a leading performer of klezmer music.[1] [2]


Rubin studied with Richard Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman, attended the California Institute of the Arts and received a BFA from the State University of New York at Purchase. Rubin holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City University London for his pioneering work on improvisation and ornamentation in klezmer clarinet music. He is currently Assistant Professor and Director of Music Performance at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music, and has taught at Cornell, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and Humboldt University in Berlin.

In addition to appearances with traditional performers such as the Epstein Brothers, Moshe “Moussa” Berlin, Seymour Rexsite and Miriam Kressyn, Leon Schwartz, Sid Beckerman, Pete Sokolow, Danny Rubinstein, Ben Bazyler, and Leopold Kozlowski, he leads the international Joel Rubin Ensemble (also known as the Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble,[3] US/Hungary/Italy) and was the founder and clarinetist of some of the most internationally respected klezmer ensembles, including the pioneering revival group Brave Old World. The Joel Rubin Ensemble features Kálmán Balogh on cimbalom, David Chernyavsky on violin, and Claudio Jacomucci on accordion. Rubin’s albums Midnight Prayer, Beregovski’s Khasene (Beregovski’s Wedding), Bessarabian Symphony, Zeydes un Eyniklekh (Grandfathers and Grandsons) and Hungry Hearts are considered to be masterpieces of classical Eastern European and American Jewish music. His music can be heard in several films, and the award-winning documentary portrait A Tickle in the Heart about the Epstein Brothers Orchestra is based on his research and screenplay. Rubin has collaborated with a number of artists as diverse as jazz composer-pianist Uri Caine, Israeli world musician, Yair Dalal, and Italian composer-clarinetist, Roberto Paci Dalò.

Rubin has performed in concerts throughout Europe, North America and Asia. As a clinician, he has taught together with Opperman and Stoltzman at the Clarinet Summit (2004) and held master classes and workshops at numerous institutions, including the New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and for the Israeli and Berlin Ministries of Education. Rubin is also the author of many Jewish musical books.



Jüdische Musiktraditionen (Jewish Musical Traditions), co-authored with Rita Ottens. Gustav Bosse Verlag, 2001.

Klezmer-Musik, co-authored with Rita Ottens. Bärenreiter und dtv, 1999.

Mazltov! Jewish-American Wedding Music for Clarinet. Schott Musik International, 1998.

Edited Volumes:'

Rubin, Joel E. and James Loeffler (eds.). Proceedings of the international academic conference “Hearing Israel: Music, Culture and History at 60.” Jerusalem: Min-Ad. Israel Studies in Musicology (peer-reviewed, online journal) Vol. 7 Number II (2008–09)

Book Chapters:

Rubin, Joel E. “Like a string of pearls”: Brass instruments in Jewish instrumental klezmer music. In: Studies in Jazz 58: Early Twentieth-Century Brass Idioms: Art, Jazz, and Other Popular Traditions, ed. Howard T. Weiner (series editors Dan Morgenstern and Edward Berger, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press 2009: 77-102.

Rubin, Joel E. "They danced it, we played it": Adaptation and revitalization in post-1920s New York klezmer music. In: Studies in Jewish Civilization 19: "I Will Sing and Make Music": Jewish Music and Musicians Throughout the Ages. Edited by Leonard J. Greenspoon, Ronald A. Simkins, and Jean Cahan. Omaha: Creighton University Press, 2008: 181-213.

Rubin, Joel E. Heyser Bulgar (The Spirited Bulgar): Compositional process in Jewish-American dance music of the 1910s and 1920s. In: Jüdische Musik und ihre Musiker im 20. Jahrhundert (Jewish Music and Its Musicians in the 20th Century), ed. Wolfgang Birtel, Joseph Dorfman and Christoph-Hellmut Mahling. Schriften zur Musikwissenschaft (Musicology Institute of the University of Mainz). Mainz: ARE Musikverlag (2006).

Rubin, Joel E. Ambivalente Indentitäten: Die amerikanische Klezmer-Bewegung als Reaktion auf Krise and Trauma (Ambivalent Identities: The American Klezmer Movement as a Reaction to Crisis and Trauma). In: Berichte aus dem ICTM-Nationalkomitee Deutschland XIII: Traditionelle Musik und Mode(n) – Freie Berichte, ed. Marianne Bröcker. Bamberg: Universitätsbibliothek, 2004: 89-115.

Rubin, Joel E. “Im Zentrum eines alten Rituals”: Die Klarinette in der Klezmer-Musik ("In the midst of an ancient ritual”: The Clarinet in Klezmer Music). In: Faszination Klarinette. Munich/Berlin: Prestel Verlag/Musikinstrumenten-Museum, 2004: 219-230.

Rubin, Joel. “Can’t You Play Anything Jewish?” Klezmer-Musik und jüdische Sozialisation im Nachkriegsamerika (Klezmer Music and Jewish Socialization in Postwar America). In: Jüdische Literatur und Kultur in Großbritannien und den USA nach 1945, ed. Beate Neumeier. Jüdische Kultur, Studien zu Religion, Geistesgeschichte und Kultur 3, ed. Karl. E. Grözinger. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1998: 189-219.

Rubin, Joel und Rita Ottens. Klezmer-Forschung in Osteuropa: damals und heute (Klezmer Research in East Europe: Then and Now). In: Juden und Antisemitismus im östlichen Europa, Hg. Mariana Hausleitner and Monika Katz. No. 5 in the series Multidisziplinäre Veröffentlichungen (Multidisciplinary Publications) of the East European Studies Institute, Free University, Berlin. Harrassowitz Verlag, 1995: 177-193.


Rubin, Joel E. “What A Jew Means in This Time”: Naftule Brandwein, Dave Tarras and the Shifting Aesthetics in the Contemporary Klezmer Landscape, in: Proceedings of the 2007 Conney Conference on Jewish Arts. Practicing Jews: Art, Identity, and Culture. Published online by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries’ Office of Scholarly Communication and Publishing in collaboration with Wendt Library (2009).[4]

Rubin, Joel E. Review essay “Music is the Pen of the Soul”: Recent Works on Hasidic and Jewish Instrumental Klezmer Music. AJS Review 29:1, Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies, 2005: 145-158.

Rubin, Joel E. Jewish Diaspora. In: Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume VII, ed. John Shepherd et al., London: Continuum, 2005: 74-92.

Ottens, Rita in cooperation with Joel E. Rubin. “Sounds of the Vanishing World: Yiddish Music in Contemporary Germany”, in web-based proceedings, “Sounds of Two Worlds: Music as a Mirror of Migration to and from Germany” conference, Max Kade Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004.[5]

Rubin, Joel. Klezmer: The Lost Archive of Moyshe Beregovski. In: World Music. In: The Rough Guide: Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, Volume Two of the New Edition, London: Rough Guides, 2000: 587.

Rubin, Joel. Rumenishe shtiklekh (Romanian pieces). Klezmer music among the Hasidim in contemporary Israel. Judaism (Issue 185, Volume 47, Winter 1998): 12-23.

Rubin, Joel. "Alts nemt zikh fun der doyne" (Everything comes from the doina). The Romanian-Jewish Doina. A Closer Stylistic Examination. In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Jewish Music, ed. Steve Stanton, City University, London, April 1994. (London: City University, 1997): 133-164.

Reviews and Other Writings:

Book review of Max P. Baumann, Tim Becker and Raphael Woebs, Musik und Kultur im jüdischen Leben der Gegenwart, Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2006, in: PaRDeS. Zeitschrift der Vereinigung für Jüdische Studien e. V. 14 (2008).

CD review of “Klezmer: Café Jew Zoo” (Yale Strom) and “Klezmer Suite: Music of Sid Robinovitch”, in: Journal of the Society for American Music 1 (4) (November 2007): 546-553.

Book review of Jane Mink Rossen and Uri Sharvit, A Fusion of Traditions: Liturgical Music in the Copenhagen Synagogue, Odense M: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2006, in: Yearbook for Traditional Music 39 (2007): 178-181.

Book review of American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots, ed. Mark Slobin, Berkeley /Los Angeles/London: University of California Press, 2002. Journal of the American Musicological Society (forthcoming).

CD reviews of “The Western Sephardi Liturgical Tradition As Sung by Abraham Lopes Cardozo”, “The Hasidic Niggun As Sung by the Hasidim”, and “Oh, Lovely Parrot! Jewish Women’s Songs from Kerala”. Yearbook for Traditional Music 38 (2006): 142-43 (forthcoming).

Book review Georg Winkler, Klezmer. Merkmale, Strukturen und Tendenzen eines musikkulturellen Phänomens. Lied und populäre Kultur. Jahrbuch des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs 49 (2004): 285-321 (in English, with Rita Ottens).

The Blessing over Coca-Cola: Between Secularity and Transcendence. Sh’ma (September 2005/Tishrei 5766): 10-11.

Video review David Kaufman, The New Klezmorim: Voices Inside the Revival of Yiddish Music. Ethnomusicology, Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, vol. 47, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2003): 284-286.

Book review Yaacov Mazor, The Klezmer Tradition in the Land of Israel, Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, The Jewish Music Research Centre, 2000. Yearbook for Traditional Music 34 (2002): 207-208.

Book review Walter Salmen, Jüdische Musikanten und Tänzer vom 13. bis 20. Jahrhundert... “denn die Fiedel macht das Fest” (Jewish Musicians and Dancers from the 13th to the 20th Century). Innsbruck, Edition Helbling 1991. Musica Judaica, Journal of the American Society for Jewish Music, New York, vol. 13 (5755/1993-94): 98-108.

Book review Walter Salmen, Jüdische Musikanten und Tänzer vom 13. bis 20. Jahrhundert... “denn die Fiedel macht das Fest”. Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, vol. 13, no. 2 (1991): 23-24.


Joel Rubin/Uri Caine Duo. Azoy Tsu Tsveyt, Tzadik, 2011.

Joel Rubin Ensemble featuring Rabbi Eli Silberstein. Nign of Reb Mendel: Hasidic Songs in Yiddish, Traditional Crossroads, 2010.

Joel Rubin Ensemble. Midnight Prayer, Traditional Crossroads, 2007.

Brave Old World. Klezmer Music, Flying Fish Records, 1991.

Joel Rubin Klezmer Band. Brave Old World, Global Village, 1988.

Jewish Music Series:

Aneinu (Answer Us): Hasidic-Orthodox Music from the Festival of the Torah in Jerusalem (Moussa Berlin Ensemble), Schott Wergo, 2008.

Shalom Comrade!: Yiddish Music in the Soviet Union 1928-1961, Schott Wergo, 2005.

Di eybike mame (The Eternal Mother): Women in Yiddish Theater and Popular Song 1906-1929, Schott Wergo, 2003.

Cantor Isaac Algazi: Sweet Singer of Israel. Ottoman Jewish Music from the Early 20th Century, Schott Wergo, in cooperation with Prof. Edwin Seroussi and the Renanot Institute for Jewish Music, Schott Wergo, 2002.

Oytsres (Treasures): Klezmer Music 1908-1996, Schott Wergo, 1999.

Joel Rubin. Hungry Hearts: Classic Yiddish Clarinet Solos of the 1920s, Schott Wergo, 1998.

Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble. Beregovski’s Khasene (Beregovski’s Wedding): Forgotten Instrumental Treasures from the Ukraine, Schott Wergo, 1997.

The Epstein Brothers Orchestra. Kings of Freylekh Land: A Century of Yiddish-American Music, Schott Wergo, 1995.

Joel Rubin with the Epstein Brothers Orchestra. Zeydes un Eyniklekh (Grandfathers and Grandsons): American-Jewish Wedding Music from the Repertoire of Dave Tarras, Schott Wergo, 1995.

Rubin and Horowitz. Bessarabian Symphony: Early Jewish Instrumental Music, Schott Wergo, 1994.

Jüdische Lebenswelten/Patterns of Jewish Life: Highlights from the Concert Serles ”Traditional and Popular Jewish Music” Berlin 1992, Schott Wergo, 1993.

Trikont Klezmer-Trilogie:

Yikhes (Lineage): Early Klezmer Recordings 1911-1939, Trikont, 1996 [Yikhes: Frühe Klezmer-Aufnahmen von 1908-1939, Trikont, 1991]

Doyres (Generations): Traditional Klezmer Recordings 1979-1994, Trikont, 1995.

Shteygers (Ways). New Klezmer Music 1991-1994, Trikont, 1995.

References list[edit]

  1. ^ "Joel Rubin". discogs. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Joel Rubin and Uri Caine". March 2, 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensembl". Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Table of Contents". Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Selected Papers Presented at Sounds of Two Worlds: Music as a Mirror of Migration to and from Germany". Retrieved 13 October 2013. 

External links[edit]


International Who’s Who in Music and Musicians’ Directory (1999).

Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 4th Edition (