Everything you want to know about Jewish radio

Radio listening

On Radioguide you can listen to a lot of music in many different genres. The music genre that will be discussed in this article is Jewish music. An interesting genre with unique elements that reflect the many sides of the Jewish culture. First you can read about the rich history of Jewish music, including information about Klezmer music, and after that the musical characteristics of Jewish music will be discussed. This article ends with 10 recommendations for Jewish radio stations on Radioguide that you can listen to after reading this article.


History of Jewish music

The history of Jewish music begins a long time ago and is very complex because of the spread of Jewish people during the centuries. We will start around the year 500, i.e. the period of the Middle Ages. In that period the ancestors of the Sephardic Jews came to Spain, where they were welcomed by the Arabs, who ruled Spain at that time. At that time, Jewish music came into being in Spain by women who during the work. Because they were at work, this music consisted mainly of singing, but sometimes drums were used to indicate the rhythm. These songs were mostly about love. They were ballads, love songs or wedding songs, in which courtly love was central, which means it was about knights in love. Religious songs were also sung in that time. So the culture of the Sephardic Jews has flourished since the year 500 in cooperation with the Arabs. The culture flourished especially around the year 1000. But in 1492, during the fall of Gradana, the cultural mix with the Arabs caused the Sephardic Jews to be expelled from Spain. This caused a lot of traditional music to be lost.


An important style of music within Jewish music is the Klezmer. This music originated in the year 70 and is therefore already very old, but it has changed a lot over time. In the year 70, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. This caused the spread of Jews to all kinds of other countries in the centuries that followed. Through this spread, the Jews came into contact with many other musical styles, which they then adopted in their own music. This even leads to a great prejudice about Jewish music, namely that the Jews do not really have their own music, but that it is only a mix of all kinds of other music from other countries and cultures. Around 1600 the Klezmer music sounded as we would recognize it now. At that time, the music culture around weddings was growing and this was an important development for the Klezmer music. Klezmer is music that is played during Jewish weddings. These can last for several days and music plays an important role. The Klezmer music is often dance music for the wedding, but also ritual music for the ceremony or listening music for when the wedding guests are eating. It was not until 1970, when the Klezmer music emerged as a musical genre, that it was named 'Klezmer'. Before this, most of the times it was called 'Jewish wedding music' or 'Yiddish music' (Yiddish is the language spoken by Jews in Eastern Europe).