Radical Jewish Culture

The New York Music Scene Since 1990

In the early 1990s, the New York underground music scene sprouted an avant garde movement of Jewish musicians dubbed “Radical Jewish Culture.” Its development was a result, in no small part, of confronting the Nazis’ mass murder of European Jews, a history that the previous generations of survivors and immigrants had repressed.

Past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Old Building is marked in green


Old Building, level 1
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

Their music blended free jazz with Klezmer improvisation, experimental music, rock, blues, and punk. Musicians such as John Zorn, David Krakauer, Marc Ribot, Anthony Coleman, and Frank London passionately explored the possibilities for a new form of Jewish music, emancipating themselves from conformity and inconspicuousness. They played in clubs and at festivals and founded their own music labels.

The exhibition Radical Jewish Culture presented this music scene through audiovisual documents, numerous music samples, and largely unpublished material.

An exhibition by the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, Paris at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Guided Tours through the Exhibition

During the exhibition, an hour-long guided tour was given every Sunday introducing the 1990s New York music scene around the musician John Zorn. Music samples and documents from the musicians’ private archives gave visitors insight into the music-making process as well as the musicians’ own ideas about what sets music by Jewish artists apart.

Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme (Museum of Jewish Art and History) was opened in 1998 in Paris' Marais district. It is devoted to the history of Jews in France, Europe, and North Africa from the middle ages to today.
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Museum Website (in French)
Museum Website (in English)

Anthony Coleman

Anthony Coleman, born in 1955 in Brooklyn, New York City, is an American jazz- and improvisational musician.

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David Krakauer

The American clarinetist David Krakauer was born in 1956 in Manhattan, New York City. Up until 1994, he was a member of the band The Klezmatics.

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Frank London

Frank London was born in 1958 and is an American trumpet player and composer. He is a member of the band The Klezmatics, which received the 2007 Grammy award for contemporary world music.

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The Klezmatics

The band The Klezmatics was founded in 1986 in New York City.

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Marc Ribot

The guitarist and composer Marc Ribot was born in 1954 in Newark, New Jersey.

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John Zorn

John Zorn was born in 1953 in New York City. He is a composer, plays the saxophone and clarinet, and also works as a music producer and the owner of the record label Tzadik. John Zorn wrote the manifesto Radical Jewish Culture in 1992.

More on Wikipedia
Website of the record label Tzadik
Radical Jewish Culture Manifest

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    8 Apr to 24 Jul 2011

  • Where

    Old Building, level 1
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

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