Hora (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 refers to the term in question. It also indicates whether musical notation or sound recordings are included in the source. By clicking on the bibliographic hyperlink at the end of each citation, you get the full reference.


Hora refers to a Romanian dance and musical genre of great diversity, comprising brisk tunes in 2/4 time as well as slower tunes in triple meter like the one heard here. The triple-meter hora, the primary form of the genre among East European Jews, is common in northeastern Romania and among Bukovina Ukrainians. Among Yiddish-speaking Jews, the triple-meter hora is also called londre or landre, zhok, krumer tants [crooked dance, cf. Bulg. krivo horo] and other terms. American-Jewish musicians often refer to it as ‘slow hora.’ The rhythm and the dance movements are distinct both from the lively Israeli dance in duple meter bearing the same name, and from the contemporary hora popular in Orthodox and Hasidic communities. In a much wider area of Eastern Europe, horas were frequently used as processional tunes at Jewish weddings and other celebrations.” Alpert 1993, p. 2. (Recording references included). 

“The hora Leon [Schwartz] plays [here] is a version of one of the most common nokhshpil or tsushpil tunes.” Alpert 1993, p. 3. (Recording references included). 

“Hora: A popular Romanian-Jewish dance in a limping, duple meter, often notated in 3/8 time. Also known as hoira, londre, zhok, vulekhl, krimer tants (‘crooked dance’), or ‘slow hora.’ Not to be confused with the brisk Israeli dance of the same name.” Alpert 1996b, p. 58. (Recording references included). 

“In many communities in Eastern Europe, especially in Hungary, Moravia, and Rumania, Jewish youths would assemble on Saturday afternoons for dancing under the supervision of a woman. The dancing would be held, when possible, in the open air in the synagogue courtyard, which became popularly known by the name of a dance they loved, the Joc, a type of hora common among their gentile neighbors. Although this dance was regarded as wholesome, it was frowned on by the rabbis, who however were often overruled by the people. This popular Saturday afternoon dance movement produced new folk songs and dances.” EncyJud 1971, p. 1267

“The transitional or ‘Orientalized’ repertoire consisted of the dance genres named volekh, hora, sirba, ange, and bulgarish.” Feldman 1994, pp. 7-8

“Hora. Popular Israeli folk dance originating in the Balkans and taking root in the early 1900s. Its Palestinian Jewish version was originated in 1924 by Barukh Agadati, an actor from Romania who settle in Palestine in 1910. The dance was first introduced by the Tel Aviv Ohel Theate into settlements of the Jezreel Valley and Galilee. A circle dance, in a moderately fast quadruple meter, the hora invites public participation. With its gay, dynamic rhythm, it expresses the temperament of halutzim (pioneers) and incorporates the spirit and soul of Hassidism...” Nulman 1975, p. 113.

“‘Horas’ in klezmer music bear no resemblance to the tourist-y horas of modern Israel...The horas in this book derive from a traditional dance from the Moldavia area of Romania and Ukraine. I have usually seen it written in 3/8 meter but I find it easier to read in 3/4...The backup rhythm is distinguished by playing on the first and third beats, omitting the second - making for a lurching, limping gait...The metronome setting is quite fast but the feel of horas is still andante. This type of hora is also called a zhok (street music), krumer tants (crooked dance), or just ‘slow hora’.” Phillips 1996a, p. 58. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

“‘Bessarabian Hora’ [Belf’s Romanian Orchestra]... ‘Boyberikier Khasene’ Hora... ‘Firn Die Mekhatonim Aheim’ [Brandwein/Statman/Feldman/Klezmorim]... ‘Gypsy Hora’ [Feldman/Statman]... ‘Hora #2’  [L. Schwartz]... ‘Hora #3’ [A. Shryer]... ‘Hora from ‘Baym Rebn in Palestina’’ [Maxwell Street Klezmer Band]... ‘Zhok’ [D. Tarras]... ‘Kallarash’ [Statman/Feldman]... ‘Oriental Hora (A)’ [M. Liebowitz]... ‘Oriental Hora (B) Excerpts’ [A. Schwartz]... ‘Yiddish Tanz’ [M. Liebowitz].” Phillips 1996a, pp. 59-60, 64-66, 68-77. (Musical notation and recording references included).  

“‘Der Gasn Nigun (A)’... has also been recorded under the title National Hora. I have transcribed two versions of this piece so you may hear how different performers interpret the kind of embellishments that are intrinsic to the hora dance form. It was the kind of tune played to accompany the bridal part home...[H. Kandel, 1923/A. Schwartz]. Phillips 1996a, pp. 61. (Musical notation and recording references included). 

“‘Hora #1.’ This hora is abstracted from a doina/hora/sirba medley by violinist Leon Schwartz...When following a rubato section, such as a doina, a hora is sometimes referred to as a nokhshpil (a ‘postlude’).” Phillips 1996a, p. 67, (Musical notation and recording references included).  

Hora is a general term in Romania with different regions having different meanings. The more general meaning is a binary rhythmic form at a moderate tempo. In western Moldavia the term can also refer to the zhok form. In the East, in Bessarabia they use the term ‘zhok’.” Phillips 1996b, p. 178

“The hora is in 3/8 meter and is typical of Moldo-Wallachia.” Rubin and Ottens 1995, p. 24. (Recording references included). 

“The Hora, or Zhok / A slow Rumanian-style piece in triple meter, usually written in 3/8, whose rhythm is distinctive because of the lack of a second beat. It is played... The Hora also invites virtuostic ornamentation due to its slow tempo...” Sokolow 1987, p. 19. (Musical notation included). 

“The zhok, or Rumanian hora, is a slow piece in a 3/8 rhythm, with the second beat omitted. The pattern is: 1-3 1-3 etc. It is sometimes referred to with the Yiddish term, ‘krimme tantz’ (cripple’s dance) because of its limping rhythm. All rhythm instruments accompany the zhok with a strict 1 3 pattern. In the piano, a low open 5th in the left hand and a 2nd inversion right hand chord works wonderfully.” Sokolow 1991, p. 5. (Musical notation 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). 

“‘Bukoviner Freylakh.’ This tune is also in the active repertorie 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). 

“...The Moldavian dances hora and hangu (Yiddish: honga, ange), [are] moderate tempo eastern Romanian dance tunes in 4/4 time characterized by 16th-note runs and arpeggios.” Schlesinger, Alpert and Rubin 1989. (Recording references included). 

Hore. hora.” Weinreich 1977, p. 643.

See Gas-nignTants-nign, and Zhok.


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