Freylekhs (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. 


“These two khusidlekh [Hasidic-style dance tunes, singular khusid] were cornerstones of Leon’s old-time, Jewish dance repertoire. He often referred to them as a mitsve-tentsl [mitsve dance], alluding to their frequent use at Jewish weddings to accompany the mitsve [ritual commandment/good deed] of dancing with or for the bride. Among Jews from the Bukovina region where Hasidism was predominant, the term khusidl can correspond to the more widespread freylekhs or freylekh [lit. ‘a merry tune’].” Alpert 1993, p. 3. (Recording references included). 

“First they used to dance like I showed you, in a circle. After they were all sweated up, they danced a slow freylekhs, a slow circle dance. They held each other by the shoulders, or by kerchiefs...” [Russia and Poland, 1930s]. Alpert 1996a, p. 18

“Freylekhs: A lively circle or line dance, the most common in East European Jewish wedding dance repertoire, in 4/4 rhythm... Khusidl, Khosidl, or Khosid: A slow circle or line dance in Hasidic style, in a stately 2/4 rhythm. In some regions of Eastern Europe, synonomous with freylekhs.” Alpert 1996b, pp. 58-59

“Jewish musicians used to play frequently at non-Jewish weddings and festivities where they undoubtedly played Jewish tunes in addition to the Ukrainian dance-repertoire. In the same way they brought their Ukrainian repertoire to Jewish weddings (e.g., kozackes, skocnas). V. Kharkov, administrator of the Cabinet, told me that in 1927 he transcribed a whole series of frejlaxs, which they called frejlik, from Ukrainian peasants in the village of Bondashevke; Example 28 is one. Such frejlaxs are very popular in that village and are sung for dancing. Bystanders who are not dancing clap their hands. The musicians also play frejlaxs at weddings, sometimes accompanied by singing... The possibility that such songs (e.g., frejlaxs) were sung in other Ukrainian villages cannot be ruled out...” Beregovski 1935 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, p. 526]. (Musical notation included). 

“It is impossible to say whether these šers are similar in music and dance style to the šer in Poland, Czechoslovakia, or Galicia, Rumania, and so on [fn. 3: Here I do not mean melodic variation of one or another šer but of the very style of the melodies itself. The Ukrainian šers are in general very close to the frejlaxs. Is this a local or universal phenomenon?] To date we have no publications and no data bearing on this question, and it may well be that nothing has been collected either.” Beregovski 1937 [1982, 534]

“There are also cases in which the name of a Jewish dance is not Jewish but Ukrainian, yet it is hard to ascertain that the dance has been adopted from the Ukrainian surroundings. The klezmorim used to play skočnes at Jewish weddings. According to their style and character, skočnes were almost the same as frejlaxs, and melodically they have no non-Jewish traits.... From what many klezmorim tell us, the skočna among Jews was not a separate dance-type. Usually they called a tune skočna if it was a frejlaxs (or, more precisely, a piece in a form similar to a frejlaxs) which boasted a certain technical elaboration. This could not have been adopted from the Ukrainian folk music, since there were far fewer professionally trained Ukrainian folk musicians than Jewish ones.” Beregovski 1937 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, p. 535]

“... after such improvisations [as the rhapsody-like taksims,] comes a frejlaxs in 2/4... Jewish klezmorim often played at non-Jewish weddings, festivities, entertainments, and so on. Here it is interesting to establish whether non-Jews adopted Jewish dances. We know of cases in which Ukrainian peasants took up Yiddish frejlaxs and šers (cf. chapter 3 of the present volume).” Beregovski 1937 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, pp. 539-40]

“Was the frejlaxs known under different names in various locales: frejlaxs, hopke, skočne, karahod, redl, drejdl, kajlexikes, rikudl, etc.? What did they call it in your area?” Beregovski 1937 [=Beregovski/Slobin 1982, 546]

“The frejlaxs (literally: ‘happy’) is a general dance with any number of dancers who take each other by the hands or around the shoulders and dance in a circle. In the case of a great number of dancers, a smaller inner circle is formed. Often one or more dancers go out into the center of the circle; these may be particularly light and graceful, or they may do grotesque figures. The frejlaxs had various names: hopke, redl (circle), rikudl (dance), and so on. The freylaxs’ tempo varied, from moderate to very quick. It was usually moderately quick for round dances. Naturally, the character of the tune changes with the tempo. Frejlaxs were in duple meter. They are most often in two short sections, rarely reaching eight- or sixteen-measure periods, or in a complex three-part form. The frejlaxs is not only a dance but also a tune or lyric piece; in such cases the term frejlaxs indicates the mood.” Beregovski 1962 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, p. 501, n. 79]

“From the music and its character it is very hard to distinguish the šer from the frejlaxs, if the latter is in a moderate tempo. The tempo of the šer is more or less always the same: allegro. In practice, the klezmorim never played the same piece for both a frejlaxs and a šer. Each band had several pieces which it played for the šer. Collecting materials from klezmorim of various regions, we often found the same piece used as a šer in one region and a frejlaxs in another.” Beregovski 1962 [= Beregovski/Slobin 1982, pp. 502-03, n. 93]

Frejlaxs (this term denoted round dances as well as light, lyrical pieces).” Beregovski/Slobin 1982, p. 302

Freylekhs.Beregovski/Goldin 1987 #15, 16, 27, 29, 30, 34, 35, 38, 41, 49, 59, 87-89, 91-93, 95-101, 104, 105, 107, 109, 111-113, 115, 118-21, 123, 126-35, 137-38, 140-50, 152-53, 155-67. (Musical notation included). 

“‘A zogekhts mit a freylekhs’... To raise the celebration after the khupe, and when they are sitting down around the tables, the first violinst plays with the band’s accompaniment...” [Orgajev, Bessarabia, c. 1930s-1940s]. Bik 1964. (Musical notation included). 

“Other dances performed at weddings in East European communities were:... Redl, Frailachs, Karahod, Hopke, vigorous circle dances done by men.” EncyJud 1971, p. 1265-66

“The core repertoire featured principally dances named freylakhs with a large number of equivalent names, skochne, sher, and khosid. These names implied choreographically, but not musically, different structures. Beregovski stated that the freylakhs and sher were ‘the most popular dances.’ He considers all four names to have a pan-regional distribution. He devotes particular attention to the origin of the dance sher, which was a group couple dance. He notes that the sher had been adopted into Moldavian and Ukrainian folklore from the Jews. He also states that ‘from the music and its character it is very difficult to distinguish the sher from the freylakhs, if the latter is in a moderate tempo.’. The name skochne referred to a freylakhs, sometimes not in a dance context. There were a large number of linguistic variants for the freylakhs (such as hopke, dreydl, rikudl ), but these had no musical significance. Beregovski did not include any examples of khosidl in his published collections. Judging by commercial recordings from Europe and the United States, some khosidls had the same structure as freylakhs (such as ‘Behusher Khosid,’ recorded in New York by Max Leibowitz, and ‘Sedugurer Khosid,’ recorded by Josef Moskowitz; see Folklyric Records 9034). Others resembled the vocal dance-tune (nign). We are led to conclude that the three names -- freylakhs (with its variants), sher, skochne (and at times also khosid) -- referred to a single musical entity.” Feldman 1994, p. 7. (Recording references included). 

“... While the zhok had already been transformed into several wedding genres... this process had not been completed in the case of the bulgarish, which had been employed occasionally to replace the older freylakhs fun der khupa genre.” Feldman 1994, pp. 10-27

“Recent research with Gypsy musicians from Transylvania (Romania) has shown that these musicians had performed a specific repertoire for Hungarian and Yiddish-speaking Jews consisting of core-repertoire dances of the freylakhs types (called there husid or khosid)...” Feldman 1994, p. 32

“In the middle of the street had to be the khupe, thereafter he took the groom by one hand and the bride by the other, and merrily and proudly led the couple through the market, meanwhile giving a wink to the klezmers to play ‘a freylekhs’. They, the klezmers, were the poor tailors and porters of the shtetl. After them, the klezmorim, went the in-laws, the guests and the children of the shtetl.” Fenster 1964, pp. 155-56

‘Freylakhs.’ ” As previously mentioned, they would dance the ‘freylakhs’ both in a slow tempo and a fast tempo. The melodic structure is clear and the meter is duple -- 2/4. ‘Freylakhs’ can be found in two-parts, three or even four. I’ve never observed a freylakhs’ in 3/4 (mus. ex. 21). Fridhaber 1960, p. 31. (Musical notation included). 

“We find in a memorial book of the community of Dubno... in the repertoire [of the klezmorim]...the dance name ‘freylekhs’ deserves an especially large description. Since we have not found it in any other place. The dance was performed in alternating pairs men or women or in mixed couples...” [Dubno, Poland, pre-World War II]. Fridhaber 1978b, p. 31

“While the badkhn recites, the klezmorim begin to play a freylekhs and the women who are bursting with happiness leap and dance... While they are assembling, the klezmorim play a freyklekhs and the badkhn cries, ‘Vivat!’... Afterwards the klezmorim play a Polonaise and then they follow the Polonaise with a freylekhs and everyone jumps up and skips about...” [Staro-Konstantin, Ukraine, 1820s-30s]. Fridkin 1925, pp. 44-47

“[At the badekns,] 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...[soon]ý forgets that he began in sadness and crying and goes into a freylekhs... When the badkhn finishes, the klezmer begin to play a freykekhs, the women burst with joy and hop and dance.” [Staro-Konstantin, Ukraine, 1820s-30s]. Fridkin 1925, pp. 44-45

“After the wedding meal the bride and groom were seated on stools in the middle of the room (in other places they were seated both on one stool) and the badkhn begins to recite rhymes. With the last rhyme he calls out the in-laws to dance with the bride.. Ending his recital, the klezmer play a vivat and the badkhn exclaims, ‘shabos!’... Afterwards the klezmer play a polonez and the groom’s father dances with the bride with the edge of a handkerchief, with his hand not touching the bride... the entire crowd takes each other’s hands, the klezmer launch immediately fom the polonez into a freylekhs”[Staro-Konstantin, Ukraine, 1820s-30s]. Fridkin 1925, p. 47

"Reconstruction of the dance choreography of a freylekhs, as danced near Kiev ca. 1900-1915, includes following data: “Eight people form a circle, all holding hands at a  natural low level... The tune and the dance are in 2/4 meter. Introductory music is usually 8 long, or sometimes longer if the dancers are still assembling. After the introductory music, everyone circles to the left beginning on the first bear of the next musical phrase... Everyone circles to the left for 16 bars, or sometimes longer. During the last bar of the circling phrase, one person drops the hand he or she has been holding on the left, thereby opening on link of the circle. This person is to be considered the first person or the leader. At the beginning of the next musical phrase, the leader, alone, makes a very small 360 degree circle to the left, almost turning in place....When all eight people are ‘wrapped up’ in this way, everyone forms a straight line (if space permits) and dances in place. This dancing in place usually continues until the beginning of a new musical phrase... After the leader has gone through the last arch and circles right...the leader then begins a large circle (with the whole group) to the left [sic]... The entire group dances in a single circle to the left until the end of the tune.” [Kiev, Ukraine, c. 1900-15]." Friedland 1981, pp. 29-31

“An example of influence in the other direction, of Jewish music borrowed by Moldavians, is provided by the dance tune ‘Bessarabian freilikh.’ ‘Freilikh’ is the Yiddish ‘freylekhs,’ but it is not merely a matter of the name. The music of the dance tune is Jewish in its very character...” Goldin 1989, p. 35. (Musical notation included). 

“In the repertoire of the American klezmer, appears a parallel genre called Bulgare or Terkishe, which, in our opinion, constitutes a sister-repertoire to the niggun-Meron of Israel....The fact that it is at Meron that our particular repertoire receives a specific function -- and that it owes its vernacular name to this place -- forms a link between the pilgrimage and this repertoire. One would be tempted -- if not to situate at Meron the formation of this musical genre -- to perceive, at least, in the function that it assumes in the course of this pilgrimage its original function. Our first informants, natives of Jerusalem, explained in effect the name niggun-Meron in this sense and we embraced this view...If we accept Michael Zilber’s version, further confirmed by other accounts, the events occurred reasonably close to the following: The communities of Tzfat and Tiberias were the first to participate in this pilgrimage, until then essentially Sephardic. The musical repertoire of dance played by the klezmer during this pilgrimage is essentially theirs. The Hiérsolymitains did not have an instrumental repertoire properly speaking, except perhaps a few niggunim borrowed from the Oriental communities of Jerusalem. Coming to Meron, they would diversify in part their Hassidic repertoire from Central Europe and adopt the instrumental music, which they heard and integrated into their repertoire....In reality, practically no Meron air existed in accompaniment of a simple group round....An abstraction based on these numerous stylistic elements, which do not easily lend themselves to an analysis, let us look now at the aspects of the niggun-Meron that permits such a process. The airs that we have eventually classified in this category, essentially following the informants’ own classification, present a certain unity of form, on the scale and the level melodic turns used...In this manner, on the level of form, we find that more than half of the Meron melodies offer a common pattern. Eleven Meron melodies are composed of three phrases of eight measures (2/4) repeated with a different ending form in the style of the period....Nearly all the melodies reach their peak on the second phrase higher than on the first. The third phrase generally begins in the median register and turns around some pivot notes....The unity is no less manifest on the level of musical scales. These which feature an augmented second dominate in more than half of the niggun-Meron. This interval is found by preference between the second and third degree...or between the third and fourth...Once again we have less need to insist upon the unity of Meron repertoire in terms of rhythm. The fast melodies are dominated by eighth notes, sixteenth notes and dotted eighth notes...It is convienent, after having underlined the common characteristics of the repertoire, to recall the divergent characteristics of other Hassidic repertoires...” Hadju 1971, pp. 73, 79, 82

“The bazetsh di kale, leading from there to where the wedding took place, to the khupe in the large synagogue, and back home -- to the sounds of a ‘freylekhs’... Often the wedding-parade stretched over several streets before leading the in-laws back home, accompanied the whole way with the A. G. [Avrom Goldfaden] ‘getsoygene motive’.” [Dubno, Poland, pre-World War II]. Katshke 1966, p. 666

“Only two people could dance a ‘freylekhs;’ a man with a woman or also two of the same sex. At the start the dancers would pull four meters away from each other; when the melody began to play, one person danced opposite the other, in various figures... dancing until he collapsed from exhaustion... now the klezmorim would increase the tempo of the playing and the in-laws clapped their hands endlessly...a ‘kozak’ [and a freylekhs]... were also folk-dances for adults and in-laws. The youth strutted its wares in waltzes [valsn], krakoviaks, etc.” [Dubno, Poland, pre-World War II]. Katshke 1966, p. 667

‘Tsirele’ [is a name for a freylekhs].” [Dubno, Poland, pre-World War II]. Katshke 1966, p. 669

“Soon thereafter the badkhn introduced himself with the klezmorim, who played the first march. All present became serious, and they rose to the occasion. Women let out tears and the badkhn spoke and spoke, until he felt that he reached the point of culmination, and then he began to play a freylekhs. The crowd caught on and joined the familiar happiness.” [Frampol, Lublin, Poland, pre-World War II]. Kleydman 1966, p. 163

“Also connected to famous national dances is ‘a freylakhs.’ This was a merry dance, a dance of celebration when [one was] angry... perhaps...freylekhs-songs are the product of dance improvisation...” Levinson 1947, p. 161

“Lit. ‘belonging to joy’...1) The klezmorim in the past and present apply this term to fast, rhythmic dance tunes which create joy.” 2) Boyan Hasidim specifically apply this term to all joyful tunes, whether they are for dancing or for rejoicing.” Mazor and Seroussi 1990/91, p. 136

“‘Freylakhs fun der khupe.’ This rollicking wedding march translates as Freylakh from the Wedding Canopy...Trills, quick triplets and wicked chirps help establish the mood.” [A. Elenkrig; A. Statman]. Phillips 1996a, pp. 16-17. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

“‘Kishniev #1.’ This stately terkishe... is based on the stylings of Dave Tarras... In the second half of the medley Tarras leaps into a freylakh that is transcribed in that chapter under Kishiniev #2. He then plays Kishiniev #1 in a freylakh rhythm.” Phillips 1996a, p. 30. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

“‘Opshpiel far di mekhatonim.’ Dave Tarras performed this medley... The title translates roughly as Prelude (or Overture) for the In-Laws...The second piece is on the cusp between a khosidl and an up tempo freylakh." Phillips 1996a, pp. 34-35.(Musical notation and recording references included).  

“‘Dem Reben Khusid’... was played at freylakh tempo in 1923 by... Naftule Brandwein [Galicia].” Phillips 1996a, pp. 38-39. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

“‘Rushishe Sher #1.’ This piece is not played at the usual freylakh tempo of shers; it sounds more like a wedding march. [I.J. Hochman; A. Statman and Z. Feldman].” Phillips 1996a, p. 41. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

“‘Tanz Far Alle Mekhatonim.’ Thus tune is almost sufficiently lively to be a freylakh but I’ll label it a khosidl on a split decision. The Abe Schwartz Orchestra recording upon which this is based sounds like a brisk march...’" Philips 1996a, p. 43.  (Musical notation and recording references included).  

“‘Der Gasn Nigun (B).’ The second version of Gasn Nigun ias based on Abe Schwartz’s 1920 violin solo [Romanian]... The pace is quicker and Schwartz launches into a freylakh half-way through. The two measures before the opening double bar line of the freylakh...are not a melody, but a set-up of the new tempo and rhythm.” Phillips 1996a, pp. 62-63.  (Musical notation and recording references included).  

Freylakh means ‘merriment’ or ‘pleasure’, and in a musical context refers to dances at tempos in 2/4 or 4/4 meter. Tunes identified as Bulgars (or Bulgarishes) in their titles are often indistinguishable from frelakhs to my ears, but are said to derive from a Moldavian (or the geographically close, Bessarabaian) take on a Bulgarian dance. A sher is a ‘scissors’ dance that...comes from Russia. The sher tunes are a relatively old part of the klezmer repertoire. Old recordings titled ‘shers; were usually medleys of many short tunes. Rhythmically they were performed like freylakhs.” Phillips 1996a, p. 78

“‘Fon der khupe #1’... ‘Fon der khupe #2’... From the Wedding Canopy #2 has been recorded from medium speed wedding march to freylakh overdrive.” [D. Tarras]. Phillips 1996a, pp. 90-91. (Musical notation and recording references included).  

“‘Freylakh from ‘Doina’ Medley #1.’ Violinist Leon Ahl played this freylakh after an extended doina...The third and fourth sections have phrasing and melodic contours like a sirba.” Phillips 1996a, p. 94

“‘Freylakhs from ‘Fun Taskhlikh.’ This tune is part of a medley apparently related to the Jewish observance of tashlikh... It might be more accurate to call this a sirba what with the continuous sixteenth note quality of this arrangment. It has some interesting shifts between modes with G natural, A flat and A natural.” [Kapelye]. Phillips 1996a, p. 95. (Musical notation and recording references included).

“‘Kishniev #2.’ This is the second half of a medley as played by Dave Tarras...Though the tempo is just a bit quicker than Kishniev #1, the freylakh rhythm is played by accompanying accordion and drums.” Phillips 1996a, p. 103. (Musical notation and recording references included).

“‘Liebes Tanz’... is based on the Abe Schwartz Orchestra recording of 1916... It is on the borderline between an up-tempo freylakh and khupe march.” Phillips 1996a, p. 109. (Musical notation and recording references included).

“‘Khosid Dance.’ This tune is adapted from the violin playing of Csaba Okros [Transylvania]... The melody was accompanied by the drones and strums of various stringed instruments in gypsy style. The overall structure and tempo of this piece is related to a freylakh but it is performed closer to the local style of csardas. That is, the effect is more Hungarian than klezmer.” Phillips 1996a, p. 157. (Musical notation and recording references included).

“‘Der Badkhen Freylakh’ [H.L. Reismann]... ‘Freylakh from ‘Die Mame is Gegangen in Mark Areyn’’ [Kapelye]... ‘Freylakh from ‘Romanian Doina’’ [A. Schwartz]... ‘Freylakh in D’ [Klezmer Plus]... ‘Heymish Freylakh’ [M. Liebowitz].” Phillips 1996a, pp. 79, 93, 96-97, 100. (Musical notation and recording references included).

“If you go through Beregovski’s book, you find that most of the things called freylakhs are in Ahava Raba... Although we know of a number of tunes that are considered to be hasapikos by the Greeks and freylakhs by the Jews which are equally typical to both genres. We don’t really know but I tend to think they were Greek first. Martin Schwartz of the University of California in Berkeley thinks that they were freylakhs first, which is possible because we know that in Bessarabia from the beginning of the 19th Century you had Ashkenazi Jews coming in large numbers. After Russia annexed it in 1812, you had the situation where Jews became very prominent in professional music. There were still many Greek musicians in Bessarabia and you had bands of mixed ethnicity. I wouldn’t be surprised if much of this repertoire was created by these professional bands who played for Jews and non-Jews.” Phillips 1996b, pp. 174-75

“Then there were shers, although there are plenty of freylakhs that could be shers...There were many names for the freylakh, which was the most important Jewish dance. In Hungary they called them khussidls or husit. That word was used for two very different things. It could be used for something identical to freylakhs. But there are other tunes called khussidls which I think originate in vocal music.” Phillips 1996b, p. 178

“The Palestinian Ashkenazic musicians copied the same repertoire that we had in New York from the recordings... If you go before that [recording era], there was a repertoire mainly of freylakhs which sound very much like minor scale freylakhs, not the Ahava Raba, that we know from Eastern Europe. On the other hand, their performance style is rather different.” Phillips 1996b, p. 180

‘Di fayerdike libe’... The melody of the last stanza is a ‘happy dance’ (‘freylekhs’).” [Galicia, 1920s-30s,]. Pipe 1971a, pp. 123-4 (#18), 302 (#18). (Musical notation included). 

“Opposite, at the other end of the hall, on a balcony sat the musicians with a clarinet, trumpet, and two fiddles. There was also a little Jew with a long, large bass, and a drum. When the bride’s father and mother, sisters with their husbands and children, the aunts, uncles, and cousins and all close friends entered the room, the musicians played a freylekhs, a different one for each. The little Jew with the pale face, striking the left side of his fiddle with his bow... and also ended each freylekhs with a few words. Then his little eyes rolled up in his head and he shook his head back and forth. The hall filled up with people. Young people led themselves through waltzes and quadrilles.” [New York, pre-World War I]. Raboy 1920, p. 25

“In his early years performing [this doyne] for Brooklyn landsmanshaftn, it was not uncommon to improvise a doina, which was originally of Bessarabian-Moldavian derivation, for fifteen minutes or longer. Max made a more standard form out of the doina in this composition. He relates that whenever he went into a freylekhs, a fast dance in 2/4 time which traditionally follows the doina, the guests would start dancing...So he substituted instead the refrain from the cantorial favorite Sheyibone Bes Ha-Mikdosh.” Rubin and Ottens 1995, p. 24. (Recording references included). 

Silkene Pajamas is a well-known Russian-Jewish folk tune with a variety of texts in Russian and Yiddish, some of them quite risqu’e, and it has often been used by klezmorim as a sher (Russian-Jewish square dance) or freylekhs.” Rubin and Ottens 1995, p. 26. (Recording references included). 

“The title freylekhs (happy) can refer to the feeling of a piece which is not necessarily intended for dancing...[often] used to accompany the procession to the wedding canopy... [as in] freylekhs fun der khupe (freylekhs from the wedding canopy). At the same time, freylekhs refers to a general dance...” Rubin 1997, p. 18. (Recording references included). 

“Shabbat Nahamu was the season of festivities in the town... there were the sweet notes of the musicians who were preparing themselves for Friday afternoon weddings and the dance on Saturday night after Zemirot. How beautifully the town band played the freilachs, and the ‘Kosher Dance!’” [Zhagare, Lithuania, late nineteenth-century]. Sachs 1928, pp. 144-45

“Freilachs: a merry tune.” [Zhagare, Lithuania, late nineteenth-century]. Sachs 1928, p. 284

“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 [sic] (to the wedding canopy), terminating the kale bazetsn (seating of the bride).” Schelp 1996, p. 45. (Recording references included).

“Violinist Leon Schwartz performs a kale bazetsn melody, and plays and sings the freylakhs (the second, faster part of thie Tarras recording) as Yismekhu B’malkh’sheho, a portion of the Shabbat liturgy, commonly sung to a variety of tunes, as a zemerl (religious folk song).” Schlesinger, Alpert, Rubin 1989. (Recording references included).

“‘Bukoviner Freylakh.’ This tune is also in the active repertoire of klezmer violinist Leon Schwartz of Queens, New York. Schwartz, a native of the Bukoviner region, calls this piece Khosidl or A Mitsve Tentsl but does not include the middle section. He recalls hearing it played in the 1910s by klezmorim from the East Galician town of Sniatyn....The first section is a very popular Romanian tune (both Jewish and non-Jewish) common in both hora (3/8) and bulgar (2/4) time. Leon Schwartz calls this tune bulgar and plays it in both rhythms.” Schlesinger, Alpert and Rubin 1989. (Recording references included).

“‘Baym shotser rebn oyf shabes-Hora’... recorded twice... as Yiddisher Tantz... and again as Yiddish Hora---A Heymish Freylekhs... the several recordings of the tune illustrate the adaptability of many Jewish tunes to a variety of rhythms: e.g. from a hora (3/8) into a bulgar (2/4) time.” Schlesinger, Alpert, Rubin 1989. (Recording references included). 

“The Bulgar, or Freylekhs/ A lively circle dance, played at moderate to bright tempo. The rhythmic peculiarity that gives the bulgar its ‘lift’ is its 8/8 meter, composed of two groups of 3 and one group of 2; 123 123 12 ... which adds up to eight 8ths, the equivalent in time to one 4/4 measure, or two measures in 2/4 meter. The most basic bulgar (freylekhs) beat is: ...” Sokolow, 1987, p. 19

“Eastern European Jews were accustomed to invite each guest to [pick] an especially favorite dance: one prefers the ‘freylakhs,’ another the ‘volekhl,’ after that a ‘sher,’ yet another a ‘kozakl,’ a ‘polka’...” Stutschewsky 1959, p. 169

“The ‘freylekhs,’ the most common and popular dance, which is not one of the figure-dances... The dancers, men and women separately, would hold hands or put hands on shoulders, and would dance in a circle, slow or fast. Freylekhs did not have regular rhythm, and also the size of the circle was not fixed... the dance would reach its end when the klezmorim grew tired. And they would play the final chord, which is known as, ‘redl,’ ‘karahod,’ ‘dreydl,’ ‘hopke,’ and ‘rikudl.’ (mus. ex. 21).” Stutschewsky 1959, p. 170. (Musical notation included). 

“‘The beggars dance.’ The local beggars at the wedding... were received as ‘guests-of-honor’ and they would arrange for them... a dance especially in their honor, in the style of the ‘freylekhs,’ which they would play for their dance. Stutschewsky 1959, p. 175

‘Freylakhs:' as we said, they would dance the ‘freylakhs’ in both a slow and fast tempo. The melodic structure is clear and the meter is duple – 2/4. There are some two-part, three-part or four-part ‘freylakhs.’ I have never witnessed a ‘freylakhs’ in 3/4... From a musical standpoint there is no significant difference between the ‘sher’ and the ‘freylakhs’ (generally there is no special difference between Ukrainian dances). The difference is with regards to tempo. The two dances also the same in their movements in duple meter, 2/4. In performance the ‘freylakhs’ tends to speed up more... The opening motive of the ‘sher’ (also known as the ‘sherele’) tends to a more quiet rhythm and a graceful expressiveness. The klezmorim knew well how to decide between these two dances, and each one of them created many distinct compositions. Stutschewsky 1959, p. 214. (Musical notation included). 

“The band began and Yenkil Krakovski, the town badkhn did an introduction. Standing on a bench he began with a nign from ‘Yehi ratzon’... When the [money] pot was already full Yenkl called Hayim with his band to play a ‘freylekhs.’ People put their hands on each others’ shoulders and proceeded to dance in time to the music.” [Apt (Opatov), Poland, 1892]. Teytel 1966a, p. 106

“Freylekhs. cheerful tune.” Weinreich 1977, p. 456

“During the meal they played and danced, particularly interesting are the last minutes... the klezmer played a gezegn-tants...they fortified themselves [against tears] with a freylekhs...” [Vilna, Lithuania, 1870s-80s].  Zizmor 1922a, p. 876

A Freilachs... [and a] Zweite Freliach.” Zunser and Smulewitz 1906, pp. 6-8

See Bulgar, Freylekhs fun khupe, Fun der khupe, and Khosidl.


For more information on this concept see Freylekhs by Yaakov Mazor.