WBFO Klezmerola Interview

The remarkable rediscovery of Jewish piano rolls, in a fascinating multi-media program of music and rare historic images. Successful engagements in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Buffalo; at Chautauqua, Klezkamp in the Catskills, and at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.


A joyous celebration of diversity, featuring long-neglected piano rolls originally made for America’s immigrant populations: Italian, Spanish, Irish, Polish, Bohemian, Greek, Swedish, Ukrainian, Croatian, Syrian, Russian, Finnish, Hungarian, Jewish and more. A program originally conceived for and presented at the 50th Anniversary of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, now booking at folk festivals across the country.

Miss Jane’s Parlor

Operatic soprano Jane Romanos, in period costume, sings ragtime and art songs dating from 1901, the year of the Pan American Exposition. Professor Berkman accompanies her with the latest technological wonder, the Pianola. Successful engagements from Connecticut to Minnesota.

A Pianola Christmas

A heart-warming and memorable program. Includes all the beloved holiday favorites, in styles ranging from traditional to Country/Western to New Age. There’s even a salute to those great animated TV specials (Rudolph and Charlie Brown, to name just two), a condensed musical version of It’s A Wonderful Life, and sparkling vintage recordings of favorite carols played by superstars Liberace and Ferrante & Teicher. Sing-alongs on request.

Rockin’ Rolls

The player piano got a new lease on life in the 1950s when Rock ‘n’ Roll hit the scene. Like ragtime, Rock ‘n’ Roll has African-American roots that at first hindered its wide acceptance; then came Elvis. From the phenomenal “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” to the Beatles to Supertramp, rolls made sure the beat went on. A revelation in Rock, fifty years in the making.

Klezmerola at the Yiddish Theatre

In 2010, a basement in Appleton, Wisconsin yielded an amazing stash of Jewish rolls, including dozens of selections from the vibrant world of Yiddish Theatre. Unheard for decades, these recordings are as delightful as they are rare and range from early works by Abraham Goldfaden (father of the Yiddish Theatre) to the brilliant Jazz Age showtunes of Olshanetsky and Secunda. Enjoy a multi-media program featuring the landmark songs that helped bridge the gap from Old World to New.

Teach Your Children

Fun for children of all ages. Piano rolls were the first digital software and remain a “way cool” means of introducing young listeners to all kinds of music. Whether playing the Crosby, Stills and Nash hit Teach Your Children, Prokofiev’s classic Peter And The Wolf, songs of Raffi, or selections from timeless films like The Lion King and Toy Story, the Pianola is unmatched as an entertaining educator.

Pianola In The Promised Land

Originally presented in honor of the 60th Anniversary of Israeli Independence, this highly-acclaimed program musically traces a people’s aspiration to return to their homeland. Selections range from sad laments to cautious daydreams to hopeful fantasies, ending with joyful exclamations – and hints of the continuing struggle to live in peace in Israel.

The Jazz Machine

Because they were issued from about 1900 to 2008, rolls offer listeners a unique opportunity to hear jazz as it developed. From the days of Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton to the stride era of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, and on to George Gershwin, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, and NPR’s Marian McPartland, the player piano kept pace with America’s greatest art form.

The Virtuoso Pianolist

Nearly completely forgotten in this country is the Pianola’s capacity, in the right hands, to render compelling performances of serious music. This recital includes music from the standard repertoire plus pieces written or arranged especially for the player piano by Grainger, Stravinsky, Atheil, Nancarrow, Lawson, and others.

Mountain Tunes

The roots of Country Music can be heard on rare piano rolls from the 1920s and 1930s, promoted at the time as “mountain tunes”. Included are topical songs that reflect the hardships and prejudices of the era, as well as prime examples of bluegrass and contemporary Country music.

Honor Rolls of WWI

The Player Piano and World War I. The First World War, now nearly 100 years in the past, was crystallized in a vast outpouring of songs that convey pride, grief, and ultimate triumph. The player piano was then in its heyday, and still brings to vivid life the heartbeat of America circa 1918.

Honor Rolls of WWII

The Player Piano and World War II. Still well within living memory, this global conflict shaped the world we live in today. Celebrate the spirit of “the Greatest Generation” with tunes ranging from the mocking Der Fuehrer’s Face to the “can do” power of We Did It Before And We Can Do It Again.

Duo Shiddach: Theremin-cello and Pianola

Cellist Jonathan Golove, internationally acclaimed for his work in returning the rare Theremin-cello to the family of concert instruments, plays this early electronic instrument to Mr. Berkman’s expert Pianola accompaniment in a program of works by Rachmaninoff, Bruch, Achron, and others. Utterly unique.

Private Parties

Yes, we do weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, but don’t forget Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Anniversaries and Birthdays! Pianola music, carefully selected and well played, can make your special occasion a memorable one. We are happy to make suggestions and have a large archive of rolls containing all kinds of music, from sophisticated dinner music to polkas and everything in between. You supply the piano, we do the rest.

Custom Work

We are happy to discuss the creation of custom rolls or MIDI files made to your specifications. Thirty-five years experience in this field assures superior results.