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“Spi mladenets/Shluf mayn feygele” Performed by Esther Korshin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s post features a medley that combines three distinct lullabies sung by Esther Korshin in 1946. Yiddish lullabies, as most Yiddish folksongs, are women’s folk poetry. But with the genre of lullaby the element of improvisation plays a bigger role as we see in this week’s post.

Esther Korshin picEsther Korshin, August 1957. Courtesy of Oliver Korshin.

1) The first part consists of the Russian lullaby Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy (Sleep My Wonderful Boy) better known as “Cossack Lullaby”

2) This is followed by a Yiddish verse of a lullaby beginning with the line Shluf mayn feygele (Sleep My Little Bird) sung to the same melody as Cossack Lullaby.

3) The lullaby medley concludes with a different Yiddish lullaby also beginning with the line Shluf mayn feygele.

Parts one and two are connected by melody; parts two and three are connected by the lyrics. See below for the recording, notes on the songs and finally the lyrics.

Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy

The popular Russian lullaby Spi mladenets  usually referred to as “Cossack Lullaby” was written in 1840 by Mikhail Lermontov (1814 – 1841). It has been folkorized over the years and Korshin’s version differs slightly from the original poem.

The melody was the basis for Yiddish lullabies by Avrom Goldfaden (1840 – 1908) and J. L. Gordon (Yehude-Leyb Gordon 1830 – 1892). See: Ruth Rubin Voices of a People, pp. 260-261.

Jewish mothers wished for many things for their sons in Yiddish lullabies but growing up to be a soldier, as in this one, was not one of them. So it is no wonder that such a hope would be expressed in Russian not Yiddish. Her performance of this song reflects how intertwined Russian and Jewish culture were.

Shluf mayn feygele 1

After concluding the Cossack Lullaby, Korshin switches from Russian to Yiddish to sing two verses with the same melody. This is Goldfaden’s lullaby that originally began with the line “Shlof in freydn” (sleep in peace) and was printed in his collection of poetry Di Yidene (The Jewess, Odessa, 1872)  Attached at the end of this post is the complete original poem (Yidene 1, 2, 3). By 1901 it was an anonymous Yiddish folksong in the Ginsburg-Marek collection. A version closer to Goldfaden’s original poem, including music, can be found in  Eleonor and Joseph Mlotek Songs of Generations, p. 4.

Interesting that in “Shluf mayn feygele 1” Korshin sings  “Ay-liu-liu”, one of the Yiddish equivalents of “hush-a-bye” but also the Russian equivalent – “bayushki bayu”, making the connection between the Yiddish song and the Russian one even tighter.

Readers of the Yiddish Song of the Week blog will remember that another lullaby with the first line Shluf/Shlof mayn feygele but a different melody, sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.

Shluf mayn feygele 2

This is a popular Yiddish lullaby with many variants. Here is a link to another version on the web, sung by Jill Rogoff.

For more on Yiddish lullabies see: Dov Noy “The Model of the Yiddish Lullaby” in Studies in Yiddish Literature and Folklore, ed. Dov Noy, Jerusalem, 1986.  On the lullaby in Jewish literature and culture, Hebrew and Yiddish, see the entry “Lullabies” by Dov Noy and Aliza Shenhar in Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions.

Thanks to Samantha Shokin of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance for the Russian transcription and translation, Jennifer Herring for the recording, and Cantor Janet Leuchter for connecting us with the Korshin family. 

Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy:

Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy,
bayushki-bayu.
Tiho smotrit mesyats yasniy,
v kolybel’ tvoyu.

Stanu skazyvat’ ya skazku,
pesen’ku spoyu.
Ty dremli, zakryvshi glazki,
bayushki-bayu.

No otets tvoy, stariy voin,
zakalyon v boyu.
Spi moy angel, bud’ pokoen,
bayushki-bayu.

Ya sedeltse boevoe,
shelkom razoshyu.
Spi ditya moyo rodnoye,
bayushki-bayu.

Спи младенец мой прекрасный,
баюшки баю.
Тихо смотрит месяц ясный,
колыбель твою.

Стану сказывать я сказкy,
песенку спою.
Ты дремли, закрывши глазки,
баюшки-баю.

но отец твой, старый воин,
закалён в бою.
Спи мой ангел, будь покоен,
баюшки-баю.

Я седельце боевое,
шелком разошью.
Спи дитя мое родное,
баюшки-баю.

Sleep, my wonderful boy,
bayushki-bayu.
The clear moon is
quietly looking into your cradle.

I will tell a fairy tale,
I will sing a song.
You slumber, with your little eyes closed,
bayushki-bayu.

But your father, an old soldier,
was wounded in battle.
Sleep my angel, be at rest,
bayushki-bayu.

The battle horse’s saddle,
I will embroider with silk.
Sleep my dear child,
bayushki-bayu

Shluf mayn feygele 1

Shlof mayn feygele,
makh tsi dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shlof mayn zindele
Shlof mayn kindele
Bayushki bayu

Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shluf mayn zinenyu.
Shluf mayn feygele.
Makh tsi dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shluf mayn feygele;
makh tsi dayn eygele.
Ay-liu-liu-liu Liu…

Shluf mayn feygele 1

Sleep my little bird,
close your eye.
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear son
Sleep my dear child
Bayushki bayu

Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear son,
Sleep my little bird
Close your eye,
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my little bird,
close your eye.
Ay-liu-liu-liu Liu…

Shluf mayn feygele 2

Shluf mayn feygele
farmakh dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu
shluf mayn kindenyu
zay gezintenyu
Ay-lyu-lyu

Shluf mayn feygele
makh tsi dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sluf mayn kindenyu
Zay gezintenyu
Makh dayn eygelekh tsu.

Sleep my little bird
close your eye
Ay-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear child
and be well
Ay-lyu-lyu

Sleep my little bird
close your eye
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear child
and be well.
Close your eyes.

Yidene1yidene2Yidene3

 

“Shlof mayn feygele” (“Sleep My Little Bird”) Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

All of the previous recordings in this blog of the Bukovina singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] are from the 1954 recordings done by Leybl Kahn. But her daughter Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman recorded a few songs from her in the 1960s and early 1970s. This lullaby was recorded a few months before LSW died in 1973.

luzerlsw

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her brother Luzer Gottesman. NYC ca. 1912

As usual, the transcription in English letters more accurately reflects her dialect than does the Yiddish transcription in the Yiddish alphabet in which we use standard Yiddish.

Spoken introduction by LSW: “Ikh fleyg dus zingen ven ikh bin nokh geveyn a kind mistame, finef, finef un zekhtsik yur tsurik. In dernokh hob eykh dus gezingen mane kinder. Kh’ob es gezingen Beyltsyen; Kh’ob es gezingen Mordkhen. Un hant vilt zikh es zingen…efsher veln mane eyniklekh es amul veln kenen.”

Shluf mayn feygele makh tsi dayn eygele.
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shluf mayn kroyndele, di bist a parshoyndele,
Shluf zhe, shluf lyu-lyu

Az di vest oyfshteyn fin deym zisn shluf
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
veln mir beyde geyn pasn di shuf.
Shluf zhe, shluf lyu-lyu

Oyf der khasene af daner, veln  file mener
tantsn zinenyu.
Mir veln geyn oyf di beler, tantsn in di zele*
Shluf zhe, shluf lyu-lyu.

*(German: säle)  the usual Yiddish plural of “zal”  – a large room, ballroom would be “zaln”.  LSW uses the more Germanic form, perhaps the local Yiddish Bukovina form, to rhyme. 

TRANSLATION

LSW spoken introduction:

“I used to sing this when I was still a child, probably about 65 years ago. Then I sang it for my children. I sang it for Beyltsye. I sang it for Mordkhe. And today I feel like singing it…perhaps my grandchildren will want to know it.”

Sleep my little bird, close your eye.
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my little crown, you are someone special.
So sleep, sleep lyu-lyu

When you wake up from your sweet sleep
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
We will both go to tend to the sheep
So sleep, sleep lyu-lyu

At your wedding many men will
dance, my dear son.
We will to the balls and dance in the halls
So sleep, sleep -lyu-lyu
shlofmaynfeygele1

shlofmaynfeygele2

“Az got hot bashafn mentshn af der velt” Performed by Ita Taub

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Since we start reading the book of Breyshis (Genesis) this week of Sukes, I thought it would be appropriate to post this recording of Ita (Eda) Taub singing a song about Adam and Eve and the snake. I recorded it from her in 1984 at the Circle Lodge Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY.

The words and music appear in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin. Wayne State University Press, 2007. Rubin recorded this song [tape 26] in 1962, and I recorded it again 20 years later at Circle Lodge, a camp for adults in upstate New York.The two versions are the same except for one or two words.

In the Rubin book she translates “Hot Got tsigenimen di reyd fun zayn layb” as “God perceived the needs of Adam’s body”. Literally, one should translate this line as “So God took away the speech from his body.” But I would think that the line once was “Hot Got tsigenimen di rip fun zayn layb” (God took out the rib from his body). This is supported by the version in Yiddisher folklor, ed. Y. L. Cahan (YIVO, Vilna, 1938), song #199 that is attached at the end (we’ve also included #200, for a similar melody).

The song, I believe, is very old and includes midrashim (interpretations or extensions) of the Biblical telling of Adam and Eve and the snake. Similar motifs can be found in the so-called “Women’s Bible”(the Tsene Rene) and the classic midrashic collections. The line “Eve, Eve what have you done? An entire world you did destroy” reflects the midrash that Eve had all the animals take a bit of the apple (except the immortal Phoenix bird) and therefore mortality was introduced into the world (see also Louis Ginzburg’s Legends of the Jews, Volume One).

adam-eve-serpent

Given the simplicity of the melody, almost a recitative, and the subject matter, my feeling is that the song evolved from a Yiddish woman’s prayer, a tkhine.

After the song Taub talks about the impression this song and her other song, Oy vey mame (also on the Yiddish Song of the Week Blog) left on her friend, the historian Raphael Mahler (who also recorded songs and nigunim for Ruth Rubin). She then tells us where she learned the songs.

The footnote in the printed Rubin version adds that the last verse refers to biting the umbilical cord, but this is not clear to the listener I believe.

Additionally, Michael Alpert and Julian Kytasty have recorded the song on their wonderful album Night Songs From a Neighboring Village (Oriente, 2014). You can hear it at the beginning of this video:

LYRICS TO TAUB’S VERSION:

1) Az got hot bashofn mentshn af der velt
oy, mentshn af der velt.
Oy, udem harishen tsum ershtn geshtelt.

2) Udem harishen iz shpatsirn gegangen in vayngurtn aran.
Oy iz im a vab in zin aran.

3) Hot Got tsigenimen di reyd fin zan lab,
Un hot im gegegeybn Khoven far a vab.

4) Oy Khove mit Udem zenen shpatsirn gegangen in vangurtn aran.
Iz Khoven an epl in der rekhter hont aran.

5) Iz tsigekimen di beyze shlong “Khove, Khove,
gib a bis dem epl, vesti zen vi zis er iz.”

6) Oy hot zi genimen un gegebn a bis deym epl.
Oy hot zi gezen vi zindik zi iz.

7) Hot zi genemen a blot kegn der levone,
un hot zikh tsigedekt dos zindike punim.

8) Hot zi genimen a blot kegn mist,
un hot zikh tsigedekt di zindike brist.

9) Khove, Khove vus hosti getrakht?
A velt mit mentshn imgebrakht.

10) “Nisht ekh hob es getun, nisht ekh hob es getun
di beyze shlong hot es tsigetrakht.”

11) “Zibn yur zolsti trugn, shver un biter zolsti hubn.
Af di skoles zolst dikh rasn, un ven di vest es hubn, zolst es tsebasn.”

Dialogue After the Song:

Dus iz take epes zeyer, zeyer originel. Vu’ zhe iz – hot er [Raphael Mahler] gevolt nemen di tsvey lider, un nokh tsvey lider, ikh gedenk shoyn nisht vus. Ober di zenen geveyn di ershte. Az er vil nemen un mekh arimfirn iber di kibutzim. Zol er zey vazn vus se meynt originele ekhtkayt. Un az zey farshteyn nisht di shkutsim, vel ikh zey shoyn derklern. Ikh vel shoyn derklern vus dus iz. Zey veln dus zeyer shtark upshatsn, zugt er. ___kibutz.]

Gottesman: Fin vanen kent ir dus lid?

Taub: Fin vanen dus lid? Dus lid gedenk ikh fin der heym ___ Dortn vi me hot geneyt. Es fleygn zan a pur meydlekh un zey fleygn zingen. Dus ershte lid [Oy mame ikh shpil a libe] hot gezingen man miters a shvester. Zi iz geveyn farlibt, hot zi demlt gezingen dus lid.

Gottesman: Vi hot ir dus gezingen?

Taub: In Skedinits, mayn shteytl.

Gottesman: Ven hot ir dus gehert, ven zi hot gearbet?

Taub: Zi hot gemakht di breyte kleydlekh vus di poyertes trugn. Fleyg zi neyen far zey.  Iz zi gezesn bay a mashin un hot geneyt un ikh hob es zikh oysgelernt.

Gottesman: Tsi hot zi gezingen andere lider?

Taub: Ir veyst vifl yurn di ale zikhroynes…dus iz tsulib aykh vus ikh grub aroys ikh zol zikh dermanen. Ober ikh ken nisht gedenken.

TRANSLATION:

When God created people in this world
O, people in this world,
O, Adam was the first one he made.

Adam went walking into the vineyard,
O, then a wife came into his head.

So God took out his speech from his body,
and gave him Eve for a wife.

O, Adam and Eve went walking in the vineyard
And a red apple came into Eve’s hand.

Then the evil snake came over – “Eve, Eve, Eve
Take a bite out of the apple,
So you will see how sweet it is.”

O, then she took a bite out of the apple,
and realized how sinful she is.

Then she took a leaf against the moon,
and covered up her sinful face.

Then she took a leaf against her waste,[?]
and covered up her sinful breast.

Eve, Eve what were you thinking?
A whole world full of people you’ve condemned to death.

“It was not I who did it, it was not I who did it –
the evil snake thought it up.

” Seven years you should be pregnant,
hard and bitter should your birth be, on the cliffs may you climb,
and when you give bith, you should bite it to death”.

Dialogue after the song:

Gottesman: Where do you know this song from ?

Taub: Where do I know this song from? This song I remember from home. ____ The place where we sewed. There used to be a few girls who used to sing.

The first song [Oy mame ikh shpil a libe] was sung by my mother’s sister. She was in love so she sang that song.

Gottesman: Where did you sing it?

Taub: In Skedinits (Stidenitse, Ukraine), my shtetl.

Gottesman: When did you hear it, when she worked?

Taub: She made the broad dresses that the peasant women used to wear.. She used to sew for them.  So she sat at the [sewing] machine and sang.

Gottesman: Did she sing other songs?

Taub: Do you know how old these memories are?…For your sake I am digging them out and remembering them. But I can’t remember them.

bashafn1bashafn2bashafn3

bashafn4

bashafn5

bashafn6

bashafn7

As published in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin (Wayne State University Press, 2007):

rubin-musicrubin-music-2

As published in Yidisher folklor, ed. Y. L. Cahan (YIVO, Vilna, 1938):

199a199b

yivo1yivo2

other-music