Part biography, part Holocaust testimonial, and part mystery investigation, “Song Searcher: The Times and Toils of Moyshe Beregovsky” recounts the life of Moyshe Beregovsky, who is responsible for saving and preserving much of Ukraine’s Yiddish musical tradition.

Following ethnographers’ footsteps around Ukraine and using testimony from survivors, the film reveals the tragic fate of the places where Beregovsky collected his music before the war and of the people who played and sang for him. Beregovsky’s Archive, published decades after his death, has become a source of reference and interpretation for dedicated musicians around the world who perform their own versions of these songs, reviving the centuries-old European klezmer tradition that was almost destroyed.

Violinist Igor Polesitsky, who is featured in the film, will perform a few seminal Yiddish pieces before the screening. Joining him in conversation after the screening is Elena Yakovich, the film’s director, Natalie Azarov, producer, and Lyudmila Sholokhova, Curator of the Dorot Jewish Collection at the New York Public Library, who has worked extensively with the Beregovsky Archive.

Watch the film’s trailer here:

The screening is live at the time of viewing only (in-person and livestream), and the conversation will be available on our YouTube channel after the event.

Moyshe Beregovsky (1892–1961) was an outstanding figure in Soviet musicology. His collection includes Yiddish songs, klezmer tunes, Hasidic melodies (nigunim), as well as recordings of Purimshpils (musical and theatrical performances related to the holiday of Purim). Learn more about this incredible person who uniquely contributed to the preservation and study of traditional Jewish music and culture here: View and download for free the bibliographical index of Moyshe Beregovsky’s work, published for the first time:

In-person tickets are $8 with a suggested additional donation to the Museum | Members receive free admission to this public program | Livestream tickets are free with suggested donation to the Museum – your donations help support the Museum and keep our work alive.

Doors open at 1:30 PM. The Museum is free with event attendance on Sundays until 5:00 PM with Jewish and Russian fare on offer from LOX Cafe. Currently on view: The Holocaust: What Hate Can DoSurvivors: Faces of Life After the Holocaust, and Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones.

Igor Polesitsky was born in Kiev, where he began studying the violin at the age of six under the guidance of Gregori Yampolsky. At nineteen, after attending the Glière State Music School of Kiev and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, he moved to the United States, where he graduated with a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. While studying under Max Aronoff, Polesitsky began performing in the U.S. and abroad, taking part in many international music festivals. Since 1983, he has been the Principal Violist of Florence’s Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra and has toured and recorded extensively under the direction of some of the world’s foremost conductors. Polesitsky is Vice President of the Musica Ricercata Firenze Association and Ensemble, which for over twenty years has researched and performed the medieval and renaissance musical repertoires.

Elena Yakovich was born in Moscow, Russia, where she graduated from the journalism department at Moscow State University. She successfully worked as a journalist for one of the leading Russian newspapers, Literaturnaya Gazeta. Since 1993, she has been engaged in the production of television documentaries for major TV stations. During that time, she created more than 100 movies and TV shows and has won nine awards at different film festivals in different categories. Yakovich is one of the few women documentary filmmakers in Russia and is one of the few who has worked to document the Holocaust in film. A key methodology of her documentary practice is to visit the locales which her films historicize.

Natalie Azarov was born in Moscow, Russia and is a graduate of the Moscow State University of Culture. In 1993, Azarov immigrated with her husband and two children to the United States and has worked for more than 25 years in the event planning industry. In October 2019, she joined Victorina Petrossiants as a Producer of the film “Song Searcher.”

Lyudmila Sholokhova is the Curator of the Dorot Jewish Collection at the New York Public Library. She spent sixteen years at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, where she held positions as Director of the Library, Associate Director for External Relations in Eastern Europe and Russia, Archives Director, and Yiddish Cataloging and Acquisitions Librarian. Sholokhova received her PhD from Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine in the field of Musicology and Ethnomusicology. She played a leading role in the development of the International Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collection Project that digitally reunited thousands of books and manuscripts from several major Lithuanian archival and library repositories.

Watch here: