ITV's Michael Grade: why I love klezmer music

Former ITV boss Michael Grade has revealed his affection for klezmer music ahead of a BBC documentary to be screened on Sunday.

Lord Grade, now a life peer, admitted that he knew little about the music of the shtetl until he was asked to narrate the BBC4 Timeshift programme, Klezmer: Now That’s What I Call East European Wedding Music… As Played by Yiddish Speaking People!

The documentary, the BBC’s first serious look at klezmer music for more than 20 years, traces the evolution of klezmer from its origins in Eastern Europe to its modern revival. Today, it has become a global phenomenon enjoyed and played by both Jews and non-Jews.

Lord Grade said: “I didn’t know much about klezmer. I realised it was a music which had its roots in Jewish culture but I had no idea about its place in the present and how it got there.”

I had no idea about klezmer’s place in the present

The one-time celebrity agent and former chairman of the BBC was particularly pleased to be able to display a little of his own Jewish background in the film. “There was a bit of Yiddish in the commentary — which was nice as it’s not often you get a chance to show that off. It really is a little gem of a programme.”

‘Timeshift: Klezmer’ will be shown on BBC Four on Sunday at 10.05 pm

Last updated: 8:45pm, October 11 2012