Abe Schwartz

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Abe Schwartz was one of the heroes of early 20th century klezmer. His compositions include such classics as "Tants, Tants Yiddlekh," "Di Bobe Ligt In Kempet (Grandma's With Child)," and "Dos Zekele Mit…
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Artist Biography by

Abe Schwartz was one of the heroes of early 20th century klezmer. His compositions include such classics as "Tants, Tants Yiddlekh," "Di Bobe Ligt In Kempet (Grandma's With Child)," and "Dos Zekele Mit Koyln (The Little Bag of Coals)," which he recorded in 1919 with an orchestra and Yiddish theater star Abe Moskowitz. His most famous song, "Di Grine Kuzine (The Female Greenhorn Cousin)," became the source of controversy when Hyman Prizant claimed that the tune copied his song "Mayn Kuzine" and Yankele Brisker claimed that it was taken from his tune, "Di Grine Kuzine." A compromise was reached on March 22, 1921, when Schwartz and Prizant united to publish the song with Scwartz credited for the music and Prizant for the words. The song became a massive hit when Schwartz recorded it with an orchestra and Abe Moskowitz and led to a series of similarly minded songs. Raised in a small village outside of Bucharest, Schwartz was discouraged from music by his father, who wished him to get into the family's tinsmith business.

Soon after emigrating with his family to the United States, he met David Nodiff, a part-time composer and A&R man for Columbia Records. With Nodiff's support, he secured a position as director of instrumental record peformances and talent scout for Jewish talent. His greatest "discovery" was Naftule Brandwein, one of the most influential fiddlers in the history of Klezmer music. Schwartz's fame took on global proportions. His song, "Tants, Tants Yiddlekh" was released in Latin America as "Continua Bailando -- Baile Nupcial Hebrero" and credited to Orquestra Oriental. In 1919, Schwartz recorded several Polish and Russian songs as Orkiestra Wiejska and Russky Narodny, respectfully. While he mostly recorded with an orchestra, Schwartz scaled things down when he recorded "National Hora, Pts. 1 and 2" in May 1920, with the sole accompaniment of his 12-year-old daughter Sylvia on piano.