Music Moving Images

A tickle in the heart

Film: homage to the Epstein Brothers

The Epstein Brothers Orchestra, made up of four brothers, became a legend with its klezmer music. In an exemplary way they represent Jews who immigrated from Eastern Europe, who assimilated in the US without forgetting their roots. Stefan Schwietert met the three brothers still alive in the 1990s in New York, accompanied them to their first European concert in Berlin and to their parents’ Polish homeland, and made a pleasurable and by the same token melancholy portrait of the ensemble from these encounters.

Documentary on the Epstein Brothers by Stefan Schwietert (Switzerland 1996)

Dates and Tickets

Wed, 10 Feb 2016 6 p.m.

Hermann Wolff Room

Programme

The Epstein Brothers Orchestra was made up of four brothers born in New York City: Max (1912-2000), William “Willie” (1919-1999), Julius “Julie” (born in 1926) and Isidore “Chi” Epstein (1913-1986). Their biographies and their artistic work trace Jewish American music and culture over more than 100 years. The four brothers are exemplary for the history and experience of the inhabitants of the Eastern European shtetl, who headed to the New World, had to assimilate in the US, but retained and tended to some of the habits and culture they brought along with them, specifically klezmer music.

The Epstein Brothers grew up on the Lower East Side of New York and in Brooklyn. Their career took off in the 1930s and 1940s. After the war they found their fortune in the Hassidic music business and became the most popular ensemble in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg.

Stefan Schwietert and his team met the three brothers still alive in the 1990s in New York and accompanied them to their first European concert in Berlin (1992) and to their parents’ Polish homeland. The film “is a pleasurable and by the same token melancholy homage to the Epstein Brothers, who after a gruelling life as musicians in a klezmer band in New York with up to 800 performances a year have retired at an advanced age, together with their audience at the time, to Florida, the American retirement haven; but together with the klezmer revival, the revival of the Epstein Brothers began as well. The three brothers are not only excellent musicians, but also story-tellers and actors.” (Arsenal Film Institute)

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