David Tarras was born in Russia at the end of the 19th century and in his youth absorbed the laws of both Judaism and klezmer clarinet playing. Extolled for the second, he was reviled for the first, and suffered from the growing waves of anti-semitism that swept across Eastern Europe at the dawn of the 20th century. Although Tarras enjoyed a considerable reputation as a clarinetist, he could not abide the pressures of Russian life, and in 1921 he emigrated to America. Arriving at Ellis Island, NY, his baggage was fumigated and his clarinet ruined, but his will to play music survived. Tarras managed to become one of the best respected klezmer musicians in America, widely known for graceful, soaring music with its powerful evocation of shtetl life. But Tarras not only played with traditional ensembles, he also played for the theater, in big bands, and for radio commercials.
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