Forshpil (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.


“On every Friday evening or sometimes two Sabbaths, before the wedding, a feast was given in honor of the parents; this feast was commonly called ‘spinnholz’ (‘sponsalia’ or ‘spindel’), or, in Poland, ‘vorspiel.’” Grunwald 1905, p. 341.

Forshpil. Prelude. merry entertainment on the night of the Sabbath preceding the wedding.” Harkavi 1928, p. 403

“On Friday evening a great reception, called ‘Spinholz’ (a corruption of the Latin sponsalia) or, in Poland, ‘Vorspiel,’ is held in honor of the parents of the couple.” Herlitz and Grunwald 1943, p. 481.

“In the last week before the wedding the klezmorim and also the badkhn were ordered from Bilgoray (incidentally, he is found today in Haifa)... And from there home to his parents for a kiddush, where people made a great celebration. After this came the row from the youth society, the closest friends of the groom, and they would take him in their charge. This was called the ‘forshpil.’" [Frampol, Lublin, Poland, pre-World War II]. Kleydman 1966, p. 162

“Before the forshpil a feast was made for the poor people. The klezmer played for them... At the forshpil, which comes the Friday night before the oyfruf...” Litvin 1917, p. 3

“Such dobranotsh melodies (Slav. = good night) were used to salute the arriving guests to the so-called forshpil or dobranotsh banquet at the home of the bride’s parents.” Rubin 1997, p. 22

“The preliminaries began on the Sabbath preceding the wedding... Among the German Jews this celebration was called Spinholz, a medieval German term, the meaning of which cannot be ascertained. The usual explanation is that ‘Spinholz’ refers to the distaff of the spinner, an important article in the trousseau of every German bride in the Middle Ages... The Sabbath preceding the wedding, called Spinholz by the German Jews, was a great day in Worms. On the Friday night preceding that Sabbath,... the chazan sang certain liturgical poems with a special tune called ‘Spinholz melody.’ After the evening meal, the beadle strode through the streets of the ghetto, calling aloud, ‘Zu der spinholz!’ (to the Spinholz celebration)...” [Worms, 17th century]. Schauss 1950, pp. 166, 175-76

Forshpil. prelude.” Weinreich 1977, p. 466