What's the Matter with the Klezmer? The Peter Sokolow Story

A short film from the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project

Peter "Klezmer Fats" Sokolow (1940-2022) liked the “real sound”—the Jewish sound. But how many musicians are left who appreciate klezmer music as an art form and not a nostalgic artifact? Sokolow tells his compelling life story, from growing up the son of a musician in New York, to performing for the Yiddish-speaking communities in the Catskills, to ultimately discovering and mastering klezmer under the mentorship of some of the genre's most renowned musicians. As he sits at his piano, Sokolow ponders whether cultural authenticity will persevere or become a vestige of the past.

This short film draws from a longer oral history interview.

View a compilation of selected oral histories from past Yidstock performers and presenters.

The Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project is a growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience. Since 2010, the Project has recorded more than 1,000 video oral history interviews about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture.