Bazetsens (LKT)

This entry is part of the Lexicon of Klezmer Terminology (LKT). The LKT compiles a wide array of source materials that shed light on the historical and contemporary state of knowledge about klezmer music. Each entry includes a number of citations from primary and secondary sources that include or refer to the term in question. It also indicates whether musical notation or sound recordings are included in the source. To view the full reference, click on the bibliographic hyperlink at the end of each citation.


“The kale bazetsn ceremony marks the bridal couple’s passage to married life, and features improvised but formulaic rhymed verses sung by the badkhn or marshalik [wedding poet/master of ceremonies] to a contemplative musical accompaniment similar to the doina.” Alpert 1993, p. 5. (Recording references included). 

“First there were the melodies for the ‘seating of the bride’ ritual for the wedding...” [Poland and Russia, 1930s]. Alpert 1996a, p. 15. (Recording references included). 

‘Bazetsns.’ Melody that klezmorim play at the seating of the bride before the wedding.” [Vilna, Lithuania, 1920s]. Bernstein 1927, p. 95. (Musical notation included). 

“‘Veiling of the bride. This melody goes to the ‘kale badekns’ and also ‘kale bazetsn’ and ‘kale bazingen’ [Orgajev, Bessarabia, c. 1930s-1940s]. Bik 1964. (Musical notation included). 

“The bands themselves fashioned fitting melodies for the various situations and moods during the wedding, such as bazetsn di kale, badekns...” Fater 1985, pp. 60-61

“Non-metrical genres included wedding ritual tunes such as dobraden’, dobranoch, some of the mazltov tunes, kaleh bazetsen (in Belorussia), and opfihren di makhetonim. There were also non-metrical wedding melodies, such as kaleh beveynen (known as ‘kaleh bazetsen’ in Ukraine), and various tunes played before the khupe (wedding canopy)...” Feldman 1994, p. 7

“Afterwards the shamash was sent to the groom, to confirm the ketubah. Then the klezmer came to bazetsn di kale. The bazetsns went the following way: In the middle of the room a stool was placed and there the bride was seated. Her pigtails were unbraided and they cut them one by one. The bride sits mutely, like a sheep before her barber, and the women wailed. Then the klezmer began to play sad melodies so as to summon up tears from the women...The badkhn stands up and at that moment becomes a preacher and cries out: Be quiet! The women begin to raise even more of a racket. Then the badkhn begins to rhyme...[soon] forgets that he began in sadness and crying and switches into a freylekhs...When the badkhn finishes, the klezmer begin to play a freykekhs, the women burst with joy and hop and dance....then the khasn is taken and they proceed to the badekns.” [Staro-Konstantin, Ukraine, 1820s-30s]. Fridkin 1925, pp. 43-45

“A messenger came to announce that the groom was being led to badeken the bride. Klezmer then set out for next door to greet the groom... Then the ‘bazetsns’ of the bride began. The badkhn, to the accompanying notes of the fiddle, began to bazetsn di kale, with ‘Kale’nyu, Kale’nyu veyn.’ ” [Kremenits, Poland, pre-World War II]. Gilernt 1954, p. 386.

Bazetsns. seating of a bride.” Harkavi 1928, p. 103.

“Both the head of the yeshiva and the warden wanted me to perform the ceremony of the bazetsns, for the beadle had told them that I was skilled in that art...I went over to the bride and in the tune of a true badkhn I began the ceremony of the bazetsns. I told the bride that before the wedding a woman should pray for a happy future and for good and pious children...” [Minsk, Russia, 1870s]. Katsovich 1919, pp. 81-86.

“The bride had her space, where the women quibbled with the girls, [and] there a konter-tants was danced for [the women’s] approval, one which only the Modnitzers knew... before the khupe the girls danced various dances of theirs and afterwards the bride was ritually seated.” [Vilna, Lithuania, 1890s]. Matskevits 1893

“‘Kaleh Bazetsen Terkishe.’ This terkishe from the medley, The Bride is Seated can be heard on ‘Andy Statman Orchestra.’” Phillips 1996a, p. 20. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

‘M’bazetst di kale tsu der khupe.’ [Korets [Korecz], Woyln, Poland, c. 1897, Wolozyn, Poland c. 1927]. Poliva 1967, pp. 123-24. (Musical notation included). 

“The kale baveynen, or kale bazetsn (the ritual ‘seating’ of the bride), was one of the most important rituals of a traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding before the Second World War....The non-metric chant of the badkhn was supported with sustained triads by the klezmorim, who played between verses solo obbligato passages on violin, clarinet or flute...The kale bazetsn is always followed by a lively dance in 2/4 meter, in this case two skotshne tunes.” Rubin 1997, pp. 19-20. (Recording references included). 

“The first ceremony performed here is called the bazetsens (seating the bride)...The seating of the bride is accompanied by the music of the klezmorim who play melancholy tunes which stir the hearts of the women. The klezmorim are followed by the badchon who, in grotesque rhymes and a peculiar singsong, exhorts the bride, reminding her of the solemnity of this day which, for her, is similar to Yom Kippur. He then turns abruptly to the humorous and ludicrous, concluding with the burlesque. When he ends, the klezmorim immediately begin to play a gay tune, while the women with tears still on their cheeks, dance about in jovial mood...” [last decades of the nineteenth century]. Schauss 1950, pp. 190-92

“We... found... [this tune] on a copy of a 78 recording of a Yiddish theater wedding scene. It is peformed by the State Ensemble of Jewish Folk Music of the Ukrainian S.S.R. recorded in the early to mid-1930s. They play the tune as a freylekhs tsu der khupe (to the wedding canopy), terminating the kale bazetsn (seating of the bride).” Schelp 1996, p. 45. (Recording references included). 

“In the melodies of ‘bazetsns di kale and baveynen di kale’ comes out an expression of the psychology of a Jewish woman...The musician knew the moods at that time, and could express the listeners’ feelings and make them cry... In the middle minor notes, the klezmorim would express the thoughts and wails of the woman on her fate and worries. The soloist approached the bride, who sat in the center of a circle of women, and spoke to her through his instrument, while his band assisted him... This is one of the soloist’s greatest moments, the moment, the situation, encouraging his musical imagination [mus. ex. 7])... he reaches the end of the recitative...[and] the bride is crying and says goodbye to her youth and her parents... and the violin cries and breaks her heart... along with the klezmorim during the ‘baveynen di kale’ the badkhn usually performs as well.” Stutschewsky 1959, pp. 158, 161. (Musical notation included). 

‘Bazetsns : 7a recitative’ [from Vilna]...7b ‘Improvisation’ [Ukraine]...7c ‘Bazetsns di kale’...7d ‘bazetsns for orphan groom or bride.’” Stutschewsky 1959

Bazetsens. traditional seating of a girl on a bridal chair as part of Jewish wedding ceremony.” Weinreich 1977, p. 711

“On the day of the wedding ceremony, normally on Tuesday, there was much to be done... After the girls had braided the bride’s hair, the briesmaids and older women appeared ‘tsum bazetsn der kale’. The bride was led into a special room, where she was helped to get dressed and make her toilet. Then she was led into the wedding chamber, where the ‘badkhn’ and the musicians were already impatiently waiting for her. While the women sat the bride down on a chair and unbraided her hair, the ‘badkhn’ intoned a melancholy recitative of ‘gram.’” Weissenberg 1905

“Now begins the ceremony of the so called bazetsns and badekns....[sic] The wedding guests, who only a little while ago danced, remain silent. Everyone laspses into a sad mood. The badkhn or marshalik -- as the speakers on the occasions were then called -- reminds the bride that this is a significant day in her life...” [Brest Litovsk, Poland, 1848]. Wengeroff 1913, I, pp. 178-81

“The [badkhn’s] song was in verses of good German and sung with musical accompaniment... The melody to this song sounded... gloomy.” [Brest Litovsk, Poland, 1850]. Wengeroff 1913, II, p. 108

“Before night...the bride [sat] with the women in a separate room... The klezmer played a bazetsens, a sad melody, and the badkhn used to moralize out loud...Thereafter the badkhn would call the groom with the mekhutonim to the badekns. The groom would cover the bride with a veil... After the badekns, the mekhutonim with the groom returned to their first room, and then the women, all of them from the first to the last, went into a mazl-tov-tants with the bride, the badkhn called out names, and the klezmer would play along.” [Vilna, c. 1870s-80s]. Zizmor 1922a, p. 874

“After songs had become stylish, especially in Zunser’s times, the art of the badkhn became very common. Anyone who had a semi-decent voice or a healthy heart learned a few songs, bought a bazetsns with a ‘gut morgn’ from a real badkhn and became a badkhn in his own right.” [Vilna, 1870s]. Zizmor 1922b, p. 878

“Besetzung’s Gezang.” Zunser and Smulewitz 1906, p. 2

See Baveynen, Bazingen di kale, Kale baveynen, and Kale bazetsn.