About Jordan Klapman — Music Lecturer


Since 2003 I’ve combined two of my greatest musical interests: speaking about the history of 20th century popular music, and live performing. I discovered that one of the best ways to convey both the historical context and vitality of great popular song is to combine my lectures with live performance of this great music– and I now do so with all of  my musical presentations.

I have created a number of unique music lectures, lecture series, and popular music concerts that are truly “edutaining”– and they succeed both as education and entertainment.  My presentations are accessible and easily adapted to any venue or audience, which can range from public school students to seniors. What remains constant is that my audiences and I share great stories and experience the joy of  listening to, singing, and learning about the greatest 20th century popular songs ever written and the geniuses who wrote them.

Over the past decade my musical lectures have taken me across Canada and beyond, and to diverse audiences and venues including Ryerson University’s LIFE Institute, The Miles Nadal JCC, The Koffler Centre, major synagogues throughout the GTA and beyond, numerous continuing education groups, music festivals, and an extensive number of public and private residences. I perform all of my musical presentations as both a soloist and with my band, and consistently delight audiences who share my appreciation of great music and its immense contribution to our lives and popular culture.

I perform all of the following musical lecture programmes solo, or with my Duo, Trio, Quartet, or Quintet, all of which are comprised of Toronto’s top musicians.


Broadway’s Greatest Composers

A series of a dozen self-contained  lectures given by professional musician  and musicologist Jordan Klapman, researched from  both a musical and historical perspective, these very enjoyable presentations examine the lives and music of  Broadway’s greatest  (and predominantly Jewish) composers, featuring the often revolutionary music they contributed to the American musical theatre and The Great American Songbook.

Each lecture explores the life stories and shared cultural roots of the men and women who literally invented the Broadway musical. From Show Boat, to Oklahoma, Porgy and BessWest Side Story, My Fair Lady, Fiddler On The Roof, to Sweeney Todd, Wicked, and many more, we’ll listen to great historic recordings and sing favourite Broadway hit songs to live musical accompaniment.

  1. Jerome Kern: The Zaida (Grandpa) of Broadway
  2. Irving Berlin: Mr. Show Business
  3. George & Ira Gershwin: Rhapsody in Jews
  4. Harold Arlen: Yiddish Jazz
  5. Rodgers & Hart & Hammerstein: Masters of  Broadway
  6. Lerner & Loewe: Broadway’s Great Anachronists
  7. Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne: From Sinatra to Streisand
  8. Jerry Herman: From Mame to Cage Aux Folles
  9. Jerry Bock: The Genesis of Fiddler On The Roof
  10. Leonard Bernstein: 20th Century Renaissance Man
  11. Stephen Sondheim: A Difficult Beauty
  12. Contemporary Broadway Writers: A Survey 1960-2013



The Great (Jewish) American Songbook

From about 1890 to 1955, the majority of America’s greatest popular songs was provided by the songwriters of Tin Pan Alley, the commercial songwriting and publishing industry centred in New York City. This lecture concert explores and performs 14 iconic popular songs written by many of Tin Pan Alley’s greatest songwriters: Tin Pan Alley founder Charles K. Harris,  “Mr. Show Business” Irving Berlin, Broadway founder Jerome Kern, the prolific Gershwin brothers, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart,  Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim.

Tin Pan Alley and the History of 20th Century Pop Music

Who invented the modern pop song, and the modern music industry? What was “Tin Pan Alley”, and how how did it transform New York City into the epicentre of American show business? Who invented the Great American Songbook, and made it both the soundtrack to the 20th century, and the music of our lives?

Tin Pan Alley & The History of 20th Century Pop Music is an 8 lecture series that explores the great songs and fascinating history of Tin Pan Alley and its massive influence on modern entertainment and popular culture. We’ll sing the well-known hit songs and enjoy archival recordings that highlight the development of popular song in America. We’ll also explore the lives and music of the masters of American popular songwriting from the earliest days of minstrelsy, parlour songs, and vaudeville to the invention of sheet music, the Broadway musical, recording, radio, and the Golden Age of the Hollywood musical. We’ll conclude with Tin Pan Alley’s dramatic confrontation with rock ‘n’ roll.

  1. “In the Beginning, there was ‘After The Ball’…”
  2. I’m Always Chasing Dollar$: Tin Pan Alley’s Greatest Music Publishers
  3. The Legacy of Minstrelsy and the Invention of Recorded Music
  4. The Birth of Radio and Commercial Broadcasting
  5. The Rise of Hollywood and it’s Oscar-winning Songs, Part 1
  6. Oscar-winning Songs, Part 2
  7. Hollywood Buys Out Tin Pan Alley
  8. Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Death of Tin Pan Alley

The History of Jewish Jazz

A fascinating and highly entertaining lecture/concert of Jewish folk, Yiddish theatre, and Israeli songs which were translated, and  transformed into some of the greatest mainstream jazz and pop songs in history! This remarkable presentation features 20 songs by songwriters and performers as diverse as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, The Andrews Sisters, Sammy Cahn, Ziggy Elman, Benny Goodman, Xavier Cugat, Abbe Lane, Eddie Cantor, Cab Calloway, Eden Ahbez, Nat King Cole, Lena Horne..and more!

Here’s an pp3 of selected highlights from a 2012 live performance of The History of Jewish Jazz by the Jordan Klapman Quintet.

Featuring Sharon Smith/vocals, Jordan Klapman/vocals, Tom Skublics/reeds, Shelley Miller/bass, and Jay Alter/drums.

Jewish Jazz Highlights

The History of Jewish Pop and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Simply Brill: Great Songs of the 1960s 

For Baby Boomers, these incredible popular songs, written exclusively by Jewish songwriters, are the popular soundtrack of our lives. These presentations are filled with great stories and plenty of opportunities for audience sing-along.

  1. Leiber and Stoller: From Elvis to Broadway
  2. Carol King and Gerry Goffin: Will You Still Love Us Tomorrow?
  3. Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield: Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do
  4. Burt Bacharach and Hal David: Popular Genius
  5. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman: Save the Last Dance For Me 

The Jewish Roots of Tin Pan Alley

The Jewish Roots of Tin Pan Alley examines the history of American popular music and how unique elements of the synagogue liturgy were infused into the heart and soul of America’s mainstream popular songs. This series also explores the major Jewish songwriters and their immense contribution to the history of popular music through the songwriting, music publishing, vaudeville, Broadway, recording, radio, and Hollywood film industries. We’ll learn about the Jews who invented Tin Pan Alley and the American popular music industry, and how they pervasively influenced the development of 20th Century popular song from its very beginnings to the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Sing-along sheets can be provided as professional musician Jordan Klapman plays live piano, and makes use of historic recordings. And, as with all of Jordan’s music presentations, we’ll sing and tap our toes to some rollicking renditions, performed with fascinating musical history along the way!

  1. Tin Pan Alley: From Biblical Times to Shine On Harvest Moon
  2. I’m Always Chasing Dollars: The Music Bu$ine$$
  3. Makin’ Whoopee: Records, Radio, Rhythm and Jews
  4. Bei Mir Bistu Sheyn: Yiddish-American Swing
  5. The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rise of Hollywood

Klezmer 101: The History of Jewish Music

Klezmer 101 examines the extraordinary history of Jewish music and how klezmer music’s unique roots and characteristics developed, from Biblical times to the present.

We will look at the traditional repertoire of the Old World Wedding, listen to numerous archival recordings of klezmer’s greatest performers and innovators, discuss the direct impact of klezmer and Jewish music on American popular entertainment, and look at the modern klezmer “revival” as well as klezmer’s ongoing evolution into the future.

  1. Klezmer’s Musical Roots: Jewish Musical Modes, Historical Overview from Biblical Times to the 19th century
  2. The Old World Jewish Wedding: Ceremony Overview, Traditional Repertoire, The Legacy of the Badkhn
  3. Great Instrumentalists, Ensembles, Innovators: Famous Klezmer Musicians through History, Old & New World       
  4. From Klezmer to Tin Pan Alley: Klezmer’s Contribution to American Popular  Culture and Entertainment
  5. The Klezmer Revival & New Directions: Klezmer’s 5 Developmental Waves, from The Old World to Future Fusion in The New World

Oy, Tannenbaum! How Jewish Songwriters Wrote The Great Christmas Songs