The Dubiecko Repertoire

Sharon's grandfather, Chazkel (at left), in Israel.

Sharon's father Michoel Dovid and his sister Chaja Elke left Poland in 1933. Her uncle Sol founded a symphony orchestra in Orange County, California, continuing to play the violin and viola for many years. Her grandfather, Chaskel Frand, played violin upon his arrival in the United States, but his “employment” was as gabay, rabbi’s assistant, for the Sassower Rebbe on the lower East Side of New York. He moved to Israel in 1955, where he continued to play music until his death in 1962.

 

“My father’s beloved brother Shmuel, his beloved teacher, rebbe, and Klezmer badkhan Moishele Mashuluk, and all of the other Frand Klezmorim perished in the Shoah, as well as all but three Frand cousins: Pesach and Binyomin Eichner, sons of Sara Frand Eichner, who was a singer with the Klezmorim; and Avram Frand Parizer (the last name adopted when he escaped to France from Poland), son of the band’s percussionist, who became an instrument maker himself in Paris, specializing in drums.”

 

Sharon reports that her younger daughter, Danielle Nicole Brooks, “began playing violin when she was five years old, with no knowledge of her Klezmer roots. When she was big enough, around age 12, she was given my grandfather’s violin that he brought over from Dubiecko. With significant repairs, it was still playable. My Aunt Elaine (aka Chaja Elke), sent her some of his original hand-written music."

 

Sharon wrote, “It is my very fond dream to have the Frand Klezmorim’s music survive, despite the painful loss of its talented musicians and leaders….Consider the foresight of my grandfather of blessed memory, Yeheskel (Chaskel) Frand, to bring these precious fragments out of where they would have been among the many people, instruments, papers and memories burned in the Shoah.”

 

Adrienne Greenbaum, professor of flute at Mount Holyoke College, learned of Sharon's story and traveled to New Jersey to perform at a benefit that raised money for the re-dedication of the Dubiecko Jewish cemetery. She also transcribed nine musical selections in computerized notation and performed them at the winter 2009 KlezKamp in upstate New York and this past summer at KlezKanada. Her ensemble presentation included an interlude of badkhones, the Yiddish folk poetry the Dubiecko klezmorim were so well known for.

 

When I read Sharon’s appeal, I knew right away that it was tailor-made for the Discovery Project. The 60 pages of hand-notated music she sent me (some of it written well before World War One) became the cornerstone of this past fall’s curriculum for my Jewish music ensemble at the New England Conservatory. We performed the Dubiecko repertoire three times, first at a breakfast for survivor volunteers held by “Facing History and Ourselves,” a trailblazing public school Holocaust Education Program. Watching the survivors dance to it brought tears to the students’ eyes. The following week it provided the backdrop for yet another dance -- this time for 400 people at this year’s international gathering of the World Congress of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust. Most recently, the repertoire was featured at the New England Conservatory’s Pierce Hall at the fall Contemporary Improvisation Ensemble concert, in front of a lit menorah on the sixth night of Chanukah. For all of the miracles, indeed!

January 11, 2010