Archive for Bronx

“Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman, Ph.D.:

Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn (Whoever Does Not Listen to Their Parents) is a lyric love song performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) for this recording by Leybl Kahn, made in the Bronx in 1954. So far, I can find no other versions of the whole song in printed collections.

It seems LSW remembered the final fourth verse a little later so the song is presented on two audio files – the first three verses are on one audio file and the final verse on a second audio file. The song is unusual in that the melody changes for just the last verse.

As usual on this blog, the transliteration in the English alphabet reflects more accurately the singer’s dialect than the transcription in Yiddish that follows, which is done in standard Yiddish.

Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn.
Deym kimt dekh oys azoy tsi geyn.
Mayn mame hot mir geheysn shlufn geyn leygn.
Hob ekh getin in drosn shteyn.

Zenen derkhgegangen tsvey sheyne yingelekh.
In ekh bin mir geshtanen azoy betribt.
Az s’iz eynem bashert tsuris tsi ladn.
Hob ekh mekh in eynem farlibt.

Bay mayn mamen bin ekh eyn un eyntsik kind
Un mayn mame hot mekh zeyer lib.
Zeyt zhet mir tsi poyln bay mayn mame
Zi zol im lozn arayn in shtib.

From second file – final verse.

Di mame zogt shoyn yo.
Ober mayn tate zogt dekh neyn.
Zeyt zhet mir tsi poyln bay mayn tatn
Er zol meygn in shtib arayngeyn.

TRANSLATION

Whoever does not listen to their parents –
That is how it goes.
My mother told me to go to sleep
but I went outside to stand.

Then two handsome boys went by,
and i was standing there so sullenly.
If it’s your fortune to have troubles –
I fell in love with one of them.

I am my mother’s one and only child,
and my mother loves me very much.
So please help me convince my mother
to let him into the house.

My mother says “yes”.
But my father says “no”.
So please help me convince my father,
he should allow him to come into the house.

ver-es-vil

“S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg (The Holy Days Have Arrived) is a song that takes place before Rosh-hoshone and Yom-kipper when it is a tradition to visit the departed family at the cemetery.

YIVO

Photo courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

In the cemetery, a voice is heard of a recently deceased woman who died in childbirth, and she sings of her anguish about her new born child and her husband whom she loved.

S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg
Ven me darf geyn af keyver-oves
Az ikh bin gekimen in halbn veg
Hob ikh mikh dermont in mane makhshoves.

Plitsem hert men a kol
fin a frishn korbn.
Fin a yunger kimpiturin.
Vus iz ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.

Vi iz mayn yinger man?
Ver vet im arimnemen?
Vi iz mayn pitsele kind?
Ver vet im zeygn gebn?

Az ikh dermon mikh in der tsayt
Ven gehat hob ikh es [epes?] tsu krign.
Az ikh dermon mikh in der tsayt
Fin mayn man, fin mayn libn.

The holy days have arrived
time to visit family in the graveyard
When I was half way there,
I remembered my ruminations.

Suddenly a voice is heard
from a fresh victim:
A woman who died in childbirth
Just a short while ago.

Where is my young husband?
Who will embrace him?
Where is my little child?
Who will breastfeed it?

When I am reminded of that time
when I had what I wanted.
When i think of that time,
Of my husband whom I loved.sizgekumen1sizgekumen2

When one thinks about love songs in Yiddish, the vast majority are sung by unmarried girls who dream of the man they love and how wonderful life will be after the wedding. Few are the songs, such as this, in which the woman openly expresses love for her young husband. Lifshe Shaechter Widman’s (LSW’s) powerful emotional style matches the words perfectly.

In this case, the wife sings of her love from her grave and the song immediately reminds us of another song performed by LSW, Afn beys-olyem, also known as Di shtifmuter and originally penned by Mikhl Gordon.

In addition to this field recording of LSW made by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx, 1954, there are two other published versions of S’iz gekimen di heylike teg. One, collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe in Galica, does indeed take one verse taken from Gordon’s song. see Dov Noy and Meir Noy, Yidishe folkslider fun galitsye (Tel Aviv, 1971), page 110 – 112.

In Pipe’s version the song is strictly an orphan song and has a refrain.

Pipe1Pipe2

The second version can be found in Shloyme Bastomski’s song collection, Baym kval – folkslider, Vilna, 1923 (page 81, song #22) and he calls it Di shtifmuter, the same title as Gordon’s song. This second version emphasizes the wicked step-mother who will mistreat the child.

bastomski- heylike teg

“Afn veg tsum zimergurtn” Performed by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week we present a song about streetwalkers with three different melodies.

“Afn veg tsim zimergurtn” (On the Way to the Summer Garden) was learned by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG] in Chernovitz in the 1930s.

bsgzumergartnwordsyiddish

This field recording was done in her home in the Bronx in 2010, when BSG was 90 years old. The original poem is by A. L. [Aron Leyb] Baron (1886 – 1954), but does not appear in the only printed collection of his poetry, Di yidishe brodvey un and ere lider (New York, 1949).

The entire poem appears in one of Mikhl Gelbart’s collections of his own musical compositions, Gezangen [Songs] (1937) with the complete text and with Gelbart’s music. It is entitled “Meydlekh” [Girls].

Gelbart1Glebart2

There was a third melody composed by Bernard Maitlin, sung by Vera Rozanka “Di yidishe shikse”, entitled “In gortn” [In the garden].

On the Polish Jewish Cabaret website of Jane Peppler she sings Maitlin’s melody and prints the songsheet from 1936 which includes the original poem by Baron, in Yiddish. We are grateful to Jane for making available the songsheet page as well as her translation and transliteration and refer you to her website where you can hear her sing this version.

Peppler's words

Afn veg fun zumer gortn geyen shtendik meydlekh tsvey
Keyn zakh yogt zey nit fun dortn, nit keyn regn, nit keyn shney (2x)

Zogt mir shvester hungrik, blase, vos hot aykh aher gebrakht?
Hunger, dales, kelers nase, oder gor an ander makht? (2x)

“Mikh der dales un der hunger,” entvert eyne ziftsn shver
“Mikh – a liber mentsh a yunger,” vayzt di tsveyte on: aher! (2x)

“Faynt hot er mikh gor deriber vos ikh bin gevorn alt
Itster kum, zay du der liber, kalt iz mir, brr, vi kalt.” (2x)

Afn veg fun zumer gorn geyen meydlekh fil arum
Blut fun hartsn gist zikh dortn, fun di lipn hert men: kum… (2x)

On the path from the summer garden, two girls are always walking.
Nothing can drive them away, not rain, not snow.

Tell me, hungry pale sisters, what brought you here?
Was it hunger, poverty, the damp of a cellar, or something else completely?

“For me, it was poverty and hunger,” answered one, sighing heavily.
“For me, it was my love, a younger man,” the other one points: here!

“He hates me just because I’ve grown old.
Now come, you be the beloved. I’m cold, brr, so cold.”

On the path from the summer garden girls wander.
The blood pours from their hearts there, from the lips you hear: Come…

“Erev yon-kiper af der nakht” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A short ballad or a fragment? In just one verse it tells quite a story and I rather think it is a dramatic one verse song in classic ballad form (first a description of the scene, then a dialogue) about a problem we usually think of as a Jewish immigrant’s dilemma. It clearly was an issue in the old country as well. This recording of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, (b. Zvinyetchke, Bukovina, 1893 – d. New York, 1973) was recorded by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx in 1954.


Erev yoym-kiper af der nakht
iz geshtanen a gevelb afgemakht.
Hot men gefregt vus tisti rushe
Im yon-kiper aza groyse zind?
S’i nishkushe, s’i nishkushe
Ikh darf farnern vayb un kind.

Yom Kippur evening
a store stood open.
So they asked – “What are you doing wicked one?
Such a sin on Yom Kippur!”
“It’s not so bad, not so bad –
I have a wife and child I must feed!’
yonkiper

“Sha, shtil nisht gezorgt” Performed by Tsunye Rymer

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is among the more well-known songs that have been posted on the Yiddish Song of the Week, but I have included it more because of Tsunye Rymer‘s heartfelt singing (as usual!), than the song itself. He was in his 80s by the time of this recording, but how he expresses the “ay-ay-ays” is a lesson in Yiddish (male) folksinging style.

This was recorded in our dining room in the early 1980s, I would guess when Rymer came over Friday night after dinner, as he often did. My mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman is the woman‘s voice, and I hear my father, sister and uncle Mordkhe Schaechter there too.

According to Bob Freedman‘s database of recorded songs, particularly of LPs, only Ben Bonus and the Salomon Klezmorim have recorded the song, but it has been quite popular. You can find it with words and music in Chana and Joseph Mlotek‘s collection Pearls of Yiddish Song page 146, 147. Also printed in the earlier collections of Anna Shomer Rothenberg 1928, and Gelbart 1938.

As for the performance here: The line is usually sung „nishto keyn matses, nishto keyn vayn‟ since it‘s referring to Passover, so singing „broyt‟ – bread – is a mistake, I will leave to the Yiddish linguists among you to discuss Rymer‘s „hypercorrective‟ pronunciation of „shavous‟ and „sukes‟.

The printed versions all have „Ober khsidim‟ [Hasidim] zenen mir‟ not, as is sung here, „ober yidn zenen mir‟. Since they‘re traveling to the rebbe, Hasidim is the more obvious choice, but in our family we always sang „yidn‟. Listening to this performance, it seems that the version known by the audience sometimes overwhelms Rymer‘s version and he just adapts to our words.

Un az ez kumt der yontif peysekh
vider af s‘nay
nishto keyn broyt iz, nishto keyn vayn,
Ay,ay, ay, ay! ay, ay, ay, ay!
Sha, shtil un nisht gezorgt,
Got in himl iz a futer,
du gelien, du geborgt,
Ikh hob shoyn alts un puter.
Hay, hay, hay, hay, hay!
Vus mir zenen, zenen mir, ober yidn zenen mir,
un tsim rebn furn mir, undzer gantsn lebn.

And when the holiday Passover arrives,
once more anew:
there‘s no bread, no wine,
Ay,ay, ay ay! Ay, ay, ay ay!
Sha! Quiet! Don‘t you worry,
God in heaven is our father.
Here and there we borrow a little,
I have everything and that‘s all we need.
Hay, hay, hay, hay, hay!
What we are – we are,
But Jews are what we are
And to our Rebbe we travel
our whole life.

Un az s‘kumt der yontif shvues,
vider af s‘nay.
Nito keyn milikhiks, nito keyn grins,
Ay, ay, ay, ay! Ay, ay, ay,ay!
Sha shtil……

And when the holiday Shavous arrives –
Once more anew.
There‘s no dairy, no vegetables,
Ay, ay ay, ay! Ay, ay, ay ay!
Sha…..

Un az s‘kumt der yontif sukes,
Vider af s‘nay.
Nito keyn esrig, nito keyn liliv,
Ay, ay, ay, ay! Ay, ay, ay ay!
Sha sthil……

And when the holiday Sukes comes –
Once more anew.
There‘s no esrog, there‘s no lulav,
Ay, ay, ay, ay! Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Sha….


“Tayere Toni” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have found only one other version of Tayere Toni – in the Pipe collection “Yiddish Folksongs from Galicia” edited by Meir and Dov Noy, Jerusalem, 1971 page 118-119. There the names of the lovers are Bronye and Bernard. From the Pipe version it is clear that the song is a ballad – Bernard does indeed die in the third verse, and in the fourth verse Bronye shoots herself and they are buried together in one grave. A motif much more common in non-Yiddish ballads, rare in Yiddish ones.

From Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s shorter version, recorded in 1954 in the Bronx by song collector Leybl Kahn, a ballad-story is implied but is left hanging, and I have to wonder did Lifshe not sing the other verses because she did not know them or because they did not appeal to her? Didn’t ring true or Jewish? The fact that she doesn’t repeat any of the lines also implies that we are dealing with a ballad, a story in song; Lifshe was more inclined to repeat lines in lyric love songs than in ballads.

Though the use of German names in Tayere Toni would lead one to believe that the song is relatively new, the beautiful melody sounds very old to me. Her singing, as always, is haunting and so complex given the relative simple melody. By the way, the great folklorist I. L. Cahan (not to be confused with Leybl Kahn) “disqualified” a song that Shmuel Zanvil Pipe had collected because the character’s name in the song was Moritz. “Moritz”, wrote Cahan, could not be part of any folksong.

But today we have to respectfully disagree with Cahan (and I think Pipe wasn’t too happy about his judgement in this case either). Jews in the Galician and Bukovinan territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire had German names, and were no less “folky” because of it.

Pete Rushefsky adds:

Musically, Tayere Toni reinforces the conversation between Bernard and his beloved Toni with a subtle harmonic interplay in the key of Bb minor.

The first two lines of each stanzas are rendered in Bb minor and harmonized by Bb minor, F major and Bb minor: a simple I Minor – V Major – I Minor progression that effects a light waltz-like melody as Bernard attempts to woo Toni. Harmonically each of Bernard’s two lines stand on their own – there is a simplicity and purity to his love.

Toni’s answers in the stanza’s third and first half of the fourth lines contradict Bernard, and are voiced to resolve (incompletely) on the C of a dominant F major chord. Toni’s response requires the full duration of her two lines to resolve harmonically, and for a moment, a listener tuned to Jewish modal tendencies wonders if she might distance herself further from his sentiments with a full modulation to F-freygish (also known in cantorial literature as “Ahava Raba”, or “altered Phrygian” – F, Gb, A, Bb, C, Db, Eb).

But despite a rapidly ascending then descending movement in the last line that is frequently seen in freygish melodies, Toni does not reach down to the tell-tale subtonic Eb which would confirm F-freygish. Rather, at the end of the stanza, Toni’s cadence resolves back to the tonic Bb. Though there is complexity in her responses and desires, in the end, these two are fated to live and die together.

“Tayere Toni, kim aher tsi mir
Nem dir a beynkl, zets zikh anider lebn mir.”
“Tayerer Bernard, ikh ken nisht zitsn leybn dir.
Di mame vet araynkimen, un vet shrayen af mir”

“Dear Toni come over here to me,
Take a chair, and sit next to me.”
“Dear Bernard, I can’t sit next to you.
My mother will enter and will yell at you.”

“Tayere Toni, ikh ken dikh nisht fardarbn.
Zeyst dekh az ikh halt shoyn baym shtarbn.”
Tayerer Bernard, vest nokh vern gezint.
Tayerer Bernard, di bist mayn tayer kind.”

“Dear Toni, I can’t ruin you.
Can’t you see, that i am dying.”
“Dear Bernard, you will become well,
Dear Bernard, you are my dear child”.

Spoken Dialogue after the song:

LEYBL KAHN: Dos lid hot ir gehert fun vanen?
Where did you hear this song?
LSW: Dos hob ikh gehert in Zvinyetchke.
I heard this in Zvinyetchke.
LK: In der Bukovina.
In Bukovina?
LSW: Yo, di Bukovina.
Yes, Bukovina.
LK: To vi kumen azoyne nemen vi Toni un Bernard?
So where do the name Toni and Bernard come from?
LSW: Bay undz hot men dokh daytshmerish gezingen.
We sang, after all, Germanized Yiddish.
LK: Menshn fleygn hob azoyne nemen.
People used to have such names?
LSW: Ye, avade.
Yes, of course


“Vus tisti du sheyn meydele?” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The ballad “Vus tisti du sheyn meydele?” (“What are You Doing Here Pretty Girl?”) performed in this field recording of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (my mother) is another Yiddish variant of the international ballad known generically as “Impossible Tasks.” See the previous Yiddish Song of the Week posting for another Impossible Tasks ballad sung by Josh Waletzky.

Schaechter-Gottesman learned this version in Chernovitz before the second World War from her friend Moyshe (Moshe) Barasch (1920 – 2004), who came from a Bessarabian family. Moshe Barasch later became an internationally known art critic and historian in Israel.

The melody is similar to the song “Hey, di, di / Rik zikh tsi, rik zikh tsi mir /Az du vilst a libe shpiln,/ shpil zhe es mit mir” (still looking for a printed version…).

I recorded my mother singing “Vu tisti du sheyn meydele?” at home in the Bronx in March 2011.

Vus tisti du sheyn meydele?
Vus tisti du baym brinem?
Gey, shoyn gey, un gey shoyn gey,
Fun vanen bist gekimen.

“What are you doing pretty girl?
What are you doing at the well?”
“Go, already, go,
Wherever you came from.”

“Fun vanen kh’bin gekimen,
zolsti mir nisht traybn.
Khap zhe mir a ber fun vald
un lern im oys shraybn.”

“Where I came from,
do not drive me there.
Better catch a bear from the woods
and teach him how to write.”

“A ber fun vald vel ikh dir khapn,
un im oyslernen shraybn.
Makh zhe mir zibn kinder,
a meydl zolsti blaybn.”

“I will catch a bear from the woods,
and teach him how to write.
“Then you should have seven children,
yet a maiden remain.”

“Zibn kinder vel ikh dir makhn
a meydl vel ikh blaybn.
Makh zhe mir zibn vign,
un tsvekes in un laystn.”

“I will have seven children,
and I will remain a maiden”
You should then make me seven cradles,
without nails,  with no wood strips.”

“Zibn vign vel ikh dir makhn,
un tsvekes in un laystn.
Makh zhe mir zibn hemder
un nodl in un zadn.”

“Seven cradles, I will make for you
with no nails, no wood strips.
Make for me seven shirts
without needle, without silk.”

“Zibn hemder vel ikh dir makhn
un nodl in un zadn.
Makh zhe mir aza min leyter
er zol kenen in himl shtaygn.”

“Seven shirts I will make for you
without needle, without silk.
Make for me a ladder
that can reach into the sky.”

“Aza min leyter vel ikh dir makhn
er zol kenen in himl shtaygn.
Ikh a nar in di a tsveyter,
lomir beser shvaygn.”

“Such a ladder I will make for you
that will reach up into the sky.
I, a fool, and you – another one,
So let us both be silent.”