Alex Jacobowitz: Der klassischer Klezmer Alex Jacobowitz: Der klassischer Klezmer
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Budapest Week (July 11, 1991)

Alex Jacobowitz charming the crowd with his marimba magic

ZSUZSA'S STREET BEAT by Zsuzsa rsek

Alex Jacobowitz is one of the few professional marimbists in the world. Stationed recently on Vci utca, he attracts hundreds of people around him in the street. His music is mesmerizing.

"Im from New York, but my grandparents were from Hungary. Actually Im just on my way through Hungary."

"My instrument is call a marimba. The word comes from Africa. When the Spanish Conquistadores took the Africans the New World, the marimba moved with them to Central America. The instrument has been popular in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala for about 400-500 years. Then around the turn of the century, the marimba became more popular in Mexico and the US, where it was set up to look more like a piano."

"The marimba has 52 keys; a normal piano has 88 keys. I can play most piano music on it, but not all. Most of the time I play classical music, but sometimes I play popular pieces, things that many peole know, but things that I think are specifically written for children by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Scarlatti."

"I started playing the marimba very late, when I was 19. I had a little bit of a drumming background and went to music school. when I finsihed school, I decided that the instrument had such a beautiful sound Id take it around the world and see what happens."

"Its difficult to explain what I do, because you really have to watch me perform to understand it. So Im taking the marimba around Europe to see what kind of reaction I get. If there is more interest I will stay."

"I enjoy playing music on the street; people really listen. Its kind of nice being able to meet people playing something that I really love. The audiences are wonderful here. They like my music very much. Some of them want to come up and play, some of them want to know the name of the instrument and its history. Sometimes they just want to talk with me."