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date: 10 December 2019

Epstein, Max locked

  • Henry Sapoznik

Extract

(b Brooklyn, NY, Oct 4, 1912; d Plantation, FL, March 18, 2000) American klezmer clarinetist, saxophonist, and violinist. Though born in the United States, he was considered an equal of the great European klezmer clarinetists such as Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein.

Beginning his career at age 12 playing violin for silent movies, Epstein mastered the clarinet and later the saxophone, and played regularly on the Yiddish stage, on the radio, and in concert. The Epstein Brothers, including Max, Willie (trumpet), Isidore, or “Chizik” (clarinet) and Julie (drums), dominated the New York Jewish music scene for nearly three decades. They are best known for their playing in the Hasidic community in postwar New York, where they became the pre-eminent orchestra. They issued several recordings, including the classic LP Dukes of Freilachland (1958).

After a disastrous investment in a Yiddish theater, Max and his brothers abandoned New York for Florida, where they continued to play for weddings and parties. The number of people who requested the music they had mastered steadily diminished throughout the 1960s, however. The renewed interest in klezmer music in the 1970s brought them out of retirement. Their career was further enhanced when keyboard player Pete Sokolow (...

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