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Sound Collections


Record label for "Dzhum dzhum", sung by Aaron Lebedeff, and recorded at Sirena Grand Records, USSR, ca. 1920s. 

The Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded Sound houses over 15,000 recordings, including 78, 45, and 33 rpm discs; cylinder recordings; open-reel and cassette tapes; piano rolls; and compact discs. The collection includes both music and spoken word recordings, and also contains record catalogs, and other materials related to the history of recorded Jewish music. The earliest item in the collection is a wax cylinder, dating from 1900.

YIVO's collection of recorded Jewish music is one of the most extensive and frequently consulted in the world. It embraces all genres, including:

  • Yiddish and Hebrew art, folk, popular and theater music
  • Holocaust songs
  • Liturgical and Hasidic music
  • Choral music
  • Instrumental compositions
  • Children's songs
  • Holiday songs
  • Klezmer music

The collection includes unique test recordings never released by the record companies that made them, as well as the only known surviving examples of some released recordings.

The Sound Archives also has custody of spoken word and field recordings originating in other record groups in the Archives, including:

  • Over 200 recordings of Jewish radio programs spanning the years 1936 to 1955 (Collection of Radio Programs, RG 130).
  • 43 oral history interviews about the history of the American Jewish labor movement, taped by YIVO in 1964-1968 (Oral History Collection on the Labor Movement, RG 113).
  • Several hundred interviews with Jews from Eastern and Western Europe, and with American Jews, recorded by Beatrice Silverman Weinreich and her colleagues as part of the YIVO Dialect Project in 1948-1949.
  • Field recordings of Hasidic, cantorial, folk, Sephardic, and theater music (Ruth Rubin, Benedict Stambler,and Ben Stonehill Collections, RGs 620, 1014, 533).

For reference questions, to make an appointment, donate sound documents or order sound reproductions, call 212-294-6169 or write to

Due to a high volume of inquiries it may take up to a week to receive a response.

Listen to Samples from the Sound Archive

Note: To hear the audio excerpts you must have RealPlayer version 6.0 or higher installed on your system. The player can be downloaded for free from the RealPlayer Home Page.

Ven ikh bin a Rotshild (If I Were a Rothschild) (749kb)
A 1915 "trial" recording made in New York City of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem reading an excerpt of one of his best-known humor pieces.

Tshaban (1.2mb)
A pre-World War I recording of Belf's Rumanian Orchestra playing a klezmer dance tune, Bucharest, Rumania.

Tshastushki: Lomir zikh tsukishn (Let's Kiss Each Other) (885kb)
Singer: Aaron Lebedeff
Composer: Alexander Olshanetzky
A Yiddish/Russian song from the Yiddish theater production, Goldene teg (Golden Days), recorded in 1928 in New York City.

Uvyom simkhaskhem (On Your Joyous Occasion) (726kb)
An early acoustic recording of Cantor Josef (Yossele) Rosenblatt.

Links to Other Jewish Sound Collections

Feher Jewish Music Center at Beth Hatefutsoth, Israel

National Library of Israel

The Judaica Collection of the Harvard College Library

Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary

The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music

The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive at Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania Library

Florida Atlantic University Judaic Sound Archive