Historically an instrument of indeterminate status, the klezmer accordion in Berlin is today a creative space around which concepts of style, idiom, and ensemble communication are performed and negotiated. Through detailed interview material with the disproportionate number of world-class practitioners active in the city, this article traces the role and network relations of the instrument in contemporary klezmer music. In the process it reveals a richly textured approach that makes creative use of the accordion’s cultural ambiguity and musical versatility while at the same time highlighting the tensions surrounding performance aesthetics, personal expression, and being “in the tradition.”

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