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MP3 Various Artists - The Folklore of the Krymchaks

This CD is the very first - and possibly the very last - release of the music of the Krymchaks, a small nationality in the Crimea.

20 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Traditional Folk, FOLK: Field Recordings

The Folklore of the Krymchaks
This compact disc is the very first release of the music of the Krymchaks. The overall population of this minor nationality in the Crimea, according to different sources, ranges between 1000 to 2000 people. Only 400 of them live in their homeland. Another unique feature of the CD is that it is a collection of archival recordings of authentic performances. They were made back in the 1950s to 1970s with non-professional recording equipment. By now it would be impossible to compile a similar type of collection – the manner of performance has changed irrevocably, and today these songs sound differently. The archival recordings have preserved those particular individual features of intonation, which distinguished Krymchak music from the music of the peoples living nearby – the Crimean Tatars and the Karaims.
During the years of the Nazi occupation of Crimea (1941-1944) 80 percent of Krymchaks were exterminated. However, even in the times of flourishing of the Krymchaks, the existence of this people was not widely known: “…even to many dwellers of the Crimea the name “Krymchak” is familiar only through hearsay, while beyond the borders of the “Tavrida” province…they are generally not heard of at all” (Lacoub P.M., 1866). Nonetheless, the Krymchaks are among of the oldest of the indigenous populations of the Crimea. And even up to the present moment there is no definite answer to the question of their origins and ethnic background. According to one theory they are Jews who have settled along the Crimean shores. Other theories claim them to be a Turkic group, which converted to Judaism in the 8th century A.D., the genealogy of which stems from the Khazar Khanate.
According to some legends, they have settled in Crimea in the first centuries A.D., having chosen Karasubazar as the central location of their dwelling area. The Krymchaks have arrived from Kiev during the 6th century A.D., which is proven by their most precious preserved relic – a prayer book dating from that time, written up in Kiev. Later they were joined by emigrants from Poland, Italy, Spain and the Caucasus.
The language of the Krymchaks – chagatay – pertains to the Kypchak group of Turkic languages. An analysis of ancient manuscripts – the djonks – confirms that it was formed in the Altay region, together with the Chuvash, the Balkarian and other Turkic languages. In 1997 the Russian Academy of Sciences acknowledged it to be a separate, autonomous language. The name “chugatay” descends from the Mongolian anthroponym – the name of the son of Genghis Khan, who inherited, after the death of his father, a vast territory from the Caspian Sea to the Altay region, including Central Asia.
The Krymchak written language of the Middle Ages arose on the basis of the Aramaic alphabet. In school books, published in the first decades of the 20th century the Latin alphabet was used. After 1936 the Latin alphabet was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet. Presently the Krymchak language is near complete extinction.
The Krymchaks used to live in small communities, based on blood relationship, which were called “d’jemaat”. many social issues were resolved with the aid of the reby – the leader of the religious fraternity “K’aal Akodesh”. The communities were marked by a certain sense of economic self-dependence – certain property was owned in a collective manner: some houses, shops and manufacture workshops, the income of which made up the capital, which allowed for supporting the poor. The wealthy shared their profits with the poor. Lists of the needy were made. On Thursdays each poor person was given money, coal, wood, bread, flour and various other items. The expenses of funeral for the poor were covered by the community, marriages of poor girls were arranged, while indigent child-bearing women, widows and orphans were sustained. The latter were given apartments in communal houses.
This is a citation from the report of Count M. Vorontsov, the Novorossiisk governor general, about the Krymchaks from April 27, 1847 for the Russian Ministry of Interior: “The Krymchaks lead a quiet form of existence, occupying themselves for the most part with handicraft, making saddles, sewing hats, refining cotton-thread etc. Very few of them are engaged in trade, most of them are, generally speaking, of an honest disposition and their family life is orderly.” Furthermore he writes: The Krymchaks are for the most part of a tall stature, of a swarthy skin, stately and slender. They are polite and affectionate. They have a very simple and temperate way of living. A Krymchak would deprive himself of most basic necessities of life but would keep his word, trying hard to return a debt in time. They do not have the slightest inclination towards usury or swindle, and they avoid petty squabbles and litigious behavior. Their devotion to the family hearth is very strong in them. The purity of their dispositions of character is always exemplary everywhere they might be. A Krymchak family presents itself as a patriarchal family, literarily speaking, in which the father, being its head, enjoys unlimited power and his wife and children obey him without questioning in any way. Generally speaking, respect for the elder family members is undisputed.
This small-numbered people, engaged primarily in handicraft, not aspiring towards education and for a lengthy period of time not even possessing a class of intellectuals, has endowed us with an abundant musical legacy.
In its captivating monophonic melodies, ornate rhythms and emotional expression one could sense a mixture of the Turkic, the Arabic and the Jewish.

The Krymchak musicians had played on their k’avalas (reed-pipes, fifes), kemana (type of violin) and daryo (tambourine) the melodies of the “haitarm” dance, which the entire Turkic-speaking indigenous population of Crimea knows, sings and dances to.
This CD contains recordings of melodies and instrumental folk-tunes performed by M. Lombrozo, E. Levi, S. Lombrozo, L. Hafus and M. Hafus. They are taken from various sources. Some of the recordings present here are by performers who are no longer living: M. Lombrozo and E. Levi. Some of the songs were recorded by me in Simferopol (performed by S. Lombrozo and L. Hafus). A certain amount of songs has been taken from the collection of V. M. Lombrozo (who for many years had been the director of the Krymchak’s cultural and educational society “K’rymchakhlar”).
For the most part these are lyrical songs about love, about the pain of separation, about the bygone youth…
In their letter to Tsar Alexander I the Krymchaks have defined themselves as a people, who resemble a solitary bird. They had never had a state of their own. They had always lived in the milieu of other peoples, sometimes friendly and sometimes unfriendly, which frequently changed. Nevertheless, despite all of the cataclysms of history, the Krymchaks had always preserved their unique character and their voice.
Ludmila Bakshi

About the compilation of the compact disc
The old recordings on tape contain fragments of conversations, melodies of songs, dances, bits of coughing, sighs, knockings and other sounds of bygone life. Is it really necessary to detach folklore from this stream of surrounding events and to make it into an autonomous domain of art?
Folk music does not live within the silence of the concert hall. And what could you say as being more important – the song, the request to a singer to sing it or the soft sigh of participation? And do we have the right ultimately to determine this?
The voice is the most immaterial feature of a human being. It presents itself as a trace in the air. This is why it is easier to preserve it rather than hands, legs, the heart and even footprints on the earth.
When I worked on compiling this CD, I was forced to make a certain amount of selection, which meant, to exercise a certain amount of artificial constraint. Nevertheless, I tried to be careful about this…
Alexander Bakshi

Lomrozo, Mikhail Yurievich (1911-1998) was born in Simferopol in Crimea and worked as a shoemaker. He had excellent vocal skills and a phenomenal memory. https://www.tradebit.comi remembers: “Mikhail Lombrozo had sung throughout his entire life. Once I had taken a book of songs by Crimean Tatars in my hands and started to read their titles. I read up to the middle of the volume - and he could sing every single one of those songs! That was the memory he had.”
Lombrozo, Sima Aronovna (nee Tserulnikova) was born in 1929 in Karasubazar at the collective farm “Krymchak”. Not a single Krymchak-related event could take place without her participation. Her home is always full with guests, people who are interested in folk music and art.
Hafus, Leonid Yurievich was born in 1926 in Theodosia, Crimea, where he worked as a barber and played percussion instruments. And even now he still enjoys taking a daryo (the Krymchak variety of the tambourine) in his hands and play.
Hafus, Mikhail Leonidovich (the son of https://www.tradebit.comuz) was born in 1942 in Theodosia, Crimea. He completed studies at the Music College in Simferopol, and for a certain while performed in various small orchestras in Simferopol. He did not earn a lot of money with his playing, it was not enough to get by, so he sat down at a workbench and became a shoemaker. His favorite instrument is the accordion.
Levi, Esfir Isaakovna was born in Sukhumi (Abkhazia). It was not possible to find the exact dates of her birth and death. It is known that she had lived in Sukhumi from the 1930s to the 1970s up to a ripe old age. Her performance of folk songs is distinguished by a remarkable expressivity and emotional quality.
Levi, Raisa Petrovna was born in 1925 in Simferopol. Studied at a music school but couldnot graduate because of the World War II. During the war lived near Stavropol. After the war lived in Simferopol, wrote songs, organized concerts, played piano.

The producers of this compact disc wish to extend their gratitude to Victor Mikhailovich Lombrozo and Eduard Yevseyevich Peisakh for the archive recordings, to Mikhail Anatolievich Chlenov for consultations and organizational help, to David Ilyich Rebi for the information about the performers and the translations of the songs, to Mustafa Asanovich Mukhtemerov for his participation in the translation of the songs, and also to Nizami Refatovich Ibraimov for supplying the visual materials for the booklet of the CD.

Compiled by Ludmila Bakshi
Composition of the CD – Alexander Bakshi

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