Profile - Budowitz


Photo of Budowitz
  Budowitz (photo supplied by and used with permission of Budowitz)
 Artist: Budowitz
 Formed: 1994
 Active: 1994 onward
 Group Members: Joshua Horowitz (founder/bandleader/tsimbl/19th century button accordion), Zsolt Kuertoesi (cello), Tamas Gambai (first violin), Sandor D. Toth (secunda violin and viola), Christian Dawid (clarinet)
 Genre/s: World | Jewish | Trad.
 Sub-Genre/s: Klezmer, Yiddish
 Date Info First Pub'd: 2003/03/10
 Based: Berkeley, Ca., USA

 Contact: email
 Web Site:

Purchasing Info


During 1994, Joshua Horowitz, one of the leading exponents of the Jewish tsimbl (aka cimbalom or cymbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer) as well as the 19th century chromatic button accordion, was visited in Graz by violinist Steve Greenman and accordionist/flutist Walt Mahovlich. Greenman and Mahovlich had been performing as the duo Harmonia in Cleveland, Ohio, and the threesome hit it off and worked together as the Budowitzer Kapelye, the name being derived from the maker of Horowitz's accordion, Karl Budowitz, creator of the first chromatic button accordion (Horowitz plays the 1889 model). After Greenman and Mahovlich's return to the US, Horowitz formed a duo with violinist Lothar Laesser, and they soon rehearsed with cellist Walter Pogantsch. Now a trio, they received an invitation to play at Toronto's first Ashkenaz Festival, and there teamed up again with Greenman and Mahovlich, and thus the first proper incarnation of Budowitz was born.

The circumstances of this "birth" were quite dramatic. Not all of Budowitz's members had even met previously, let alone played together before, and the group had its first proper meeting on national television, with their first concert at the Askenaz Festival that same night (the first of three there). Three months later, Budowitz had a tour in Austria. In 1996, the group was signed by the Koch International label, but two weeks before recording was scheduled to start for the album Mother Tongue (released in 1997), cellist Walter Pogantsch left and was replaced by Hungarian cellist Geza Penzes.

After several tours as well as a number of radio and TV appearances, Budowitz split up in 1997. Joshua Horowitz continued under the name Budowitz with a couple of temporary groupings, before teaming up with three other Hungarian musicians - cellist Zsolt Kuertoesi, first violinist Tamas Gambai, and second violinist/viola player Sandor D. Toth -, and British clarinetist Merlin Shepperd. This line-up, constituting the second proper incarnation of Budowitz, recorded the album Wedding Without a Bride, released in 2000. This album was another milestone in klezmer recording, for the first time presenting all the essential music that would have been performed on the main wedding day of a traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding, with all the pieces performed in their traditional order and in authentic period performance style. Shepperd left Budowitz at the end of 2000 after its autumn tour. He was replaced by German clarinetist Christian Dawid in December that year, when Budowitz played four concerts at the Forum Des Images Theater in Paris. This remains the current line-up of the ensemble.

Budowitz is one of the finest Jewish Early Music ensembles on the contemporary scene, specialising principally in authentic 19th century and early 20th century period performance in the Eastern European tradition of klezmer music. Their immaculate musicianship and consummate virtuosity are matched by deep empathy among the players and their utmost sensitivity. Through these, they bring the music of a past age and place alive - the world of Eastern European Jewry, almost completely destroyed in the shoah, the Holocaust.

© 2003 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore

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  Album Cover - Mother Tongue
Mother Tongue

Wedding Without A Bride



1997 Mother Tongue (Koch International)

2000 Wedding Without a Bride (Buda Musique)




Appears on

1996 Musical Expeditions: Klezmer (compilation) (Ellipsis Arts)

1998 The Soul of Klezmer [Rêve Et Passion] (compilation) (Network)

2000 Klezmer: The Rough Guide. Jewish Traditions: Shtetl Roots and New World Revival (World Music Network)

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Other Info

See also separate profile of Joshua Horowitz



Purchasing Info:

Budowitz's recordings can be purchased:
Direct from Budowitz

From Jewish Music Distribution JMD UK

From Hatikvah Music International (US)

and probably better CD stores and online sources such as Amazon etc.

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