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A MAN FROM Munkács
Gypsy Klezmer
A Film by Yale Strom



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A Man From Munkács: Gypsy Klezmer explores the symbiotic relationship between the Rom and Jews who lived together before and after World War Two in the Carpathian region. Before the Holocaust there, whenever there was a Jewish celebration (e.g., a wedding, Purim festivities, dance etc.), most of the time the klezmer musicians were not Jews but Rom. In fact, the Rom had played with and for Jews for so many years that some of them spoke a fluent Yiddish. The film examines how this persecuted group (the Rom) saved Jewish folk music until it could be returned to the Jews. We learn about Gyula Galombosi, a Rom virtuoso violinist who traveled throughout the Soviet Union playing classical, Rom, Russian and klezmer music until his death in1986. His hometown was Munkács and in this hometown lived the Jakubowicz family. Ferenc (Feri) Jakubowicz was the first Jewish child born after the Holocaust in Munkács, which was cause for great celebration - Jewish life was being renewed.

During Feri’s birth, Galombosi and his fellow musicians played klezmer music on the street below the apartment. Feri was told this story by his father years later, which caused him to be more curious about klezmer. Feri and Gyula became good friends. Feri, a pianist, learned many great klezmer tunes from Gyula. When Feri and his family immigrated to Budapest in 1979, Feri played music with a local opera company. In the film, Feri shares his initial ambivalence about publicly announcing his Jewishness and his love of klezmer to the gentile world. But in 1990, he formed the first klezmer band in Hungary since the 1920’s, “The Budapest Klezmer Band” and taught the tunes he had learned from Galombosi to the rest of his band, who were not Jewish. On camera, Feri gradually remembers a Munkatsher tune his uncle use to sing to him when he was a young boy. This tune, “The Munkatsher Nign” provides a musical motif throughout the film, as it is interpreted by various Rom and Jewish musicians. Through Feri and Galombosi’s stories, we will trace the rebirth of Jewish music in Hungary today.

The film is 58 min. long and was produced by Duna TV (Hungary) and Starcrest Films (Frankfurt, Germany).

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