Archive for Bukovina

“Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2019 by yiddishsong

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern? / How did I get so many tears?
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Zwiniacze 040Zvinyetchke (Zwiniacza), Bukovina (now Ukraine),
hometown of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Another sad love song from the 1890s Bukovina repertoire of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. This is not the only song in which she rhymes “shpekulirn” and “krapirn”, words which reflect her Austria-Hungarian upbringing. I have yet to find other versions or verses to the song.

Thanks to David Braun for help with this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?
Tsi iz den mayn kop mit vaser fil?
Ven vet mayn veynen shoyn ofhern?
Ven vet mayn veytik shvaygn shtil?

Ikh heyb nor un mit dir tse shpekulirn
ver ikh krank un mid vi der toyt.
Oy, ver se shpilt a libe, der miz ying krapirn.
Geyn avek miz ikh fin der velt.

TRANSLATION

How did I get so many tears?
Is my head full of water?
When will my weeping cease?
When will my pain be silent.

When I just start to gamble with you,
I become deadly sick and tired.
O, whoever has a love affair will croak:
I have to leave this world.
Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 10.20.11 AM

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“Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2019 by yiddishsong

Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan / I wanted to be king
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded in Bronx, NY by Leybl Kahn 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is our 153 posting on the Yiddish Song of the Week blog. Upon reflection, it has given us great satisfaction to see the effects of the blog. Songs from YSW have been recorded; choral leaders have introduced these songs to their groups; and in concerts and around dining room tables many singers around the world perform songs learned from YSW. It has also inspired some to look for Yiddish song recordings in their own families and contribute.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York who is the webmaster of the blog and has done an outstanding job.

After each post we receive some comments about the translations, misspellings and corrections, additional information on the songs and we appreciate all of them. We do not have the time or staff to sit down and change the original posts, but will some day we hope. Therefore it is important for the readers of the blog to also read the comments. Now onto this week’s post…

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) rarely sings dance tunes such as this in 2/4 time. Perhaps this is based on a sher (square dance) from her hometown of Zvinyetshke, Bukovina? Versions of the lyrics, verses and refrain, are better known with a different, slower melody. For example, Feygl Sultan sings it and calls it Hob ikh mir a shpan on Ruth Rubin’s recording Jewish Life: The Old Country. Menachem Kipnis includes this song with the slower melody in his collection of 60 folksongs and calls it Zol ikh vern a rov. Others call it A bal-agole lid or Der bal-agole (The Coachman). That version has been recorded many times by cantors in particular.

LifsheAndFeterWidman

Lifshe with her second husband Isaac Widman, 1950s NY

Though LSW only sings two verses, a creative singer could take lyrics from these other recordings and printings to extend the song. The song begs for contemporary lyrics – “ikh hob gevolt a president zayn….” etc. In almost all the other versions the rhyme with “vilt zikh” is “shilt zikh” (my wife is always cursing) which seems right.

TRANSLITERATION
Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan,
hob ikh nisht keyn malke.
Kh’o gevolt a hitsl zan,
hob ekh nisht keyn palke.

Kh’o gevolt a melamed zan,
ken ekh nisht keyn Toyre.
Kh’o gevolt a soykher zan,
hob ekh nisht keyn skhoyre.

Refrain:
In in leybn vilt zekh
un mayn vayb krigt zekh.
Zey ikh mir a shteyn,
zets ekh zekh in veyn.

TRANSLATION
I wanted to be king
but I have no queen.
I wanted to be a dogcatcher,
but I have no club.

I wanted to be a melamed [teacher of children]
but I don’t know any Torah.
I wanted to be a merchant
but I have no merchandise.

Refrain:
l want to enjoy life
but my wife argues.
So I see a rock
and I sit myself down.
Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 10.48.18 AM

“Pitifers vab” – A Purim Play Song Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2019 by yiddishsong

Pitifers vab / Potiphar’s Wife: A Purim Play Song
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

800px-Rembrandt_-_Joseph_and_Potiphar's_wife

Potiphar’s wife and Joseph, by Rembrandt, 1634

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) remembered this song from a purim-shpil in her home town, Zvinyetshke, Bukovina. The “Mekhires yoysef” Purim pay about the selling of Joseph was so popular that  LSW term for the Purim players was “Yosef-shpiler”. This song sung by the Joseph character describes the attempted seduction by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39-40). It also is a good example of the open, carnivalesque atmosphere of the Purim holiday when even sexual topics could be referred to in public.

TRANSLITERATION

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
ikh zol mit ir shlufn.
ikh zol mit ir shlufn.
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Got vet mikh shtrufn.

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
mir zoln shlufn beyde.
mir zoln shlufn beyde.
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Yitskhok iz mayn zeyde.

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
Mir zoln zayn tsizamen
Mir zoln zayn tsizamen,
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Rukhl iz mayn mame.

TRANSLATION

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
that I should sleep with her.
I struggled with the evil inclination –
and remembered – God would punish me.

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
we should sleep together.
I struggled with the evil inclination
and remembered – Isaac was my grandfather.

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
we should be together.
I struggled with the evil inclination
and remembered – Rachel was my mother. potifer1potifer2

“Shteyt in tol an alte mil” Performed by M.M. Shaffir

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2019 by yiddishsong

Shteyt in tol an alte mil / An Old Mill Stands in the Valley
Words by M. M. Shaffir,  Music -“adapted from a Romanian folk melody”
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The poet M. M. Shaffir (1909 -1988) was born in Suchava/Suceava (in Yiddish – “Shots”), Bukovina, Austria-Hungary; today – Romania. He immigrated to Montreal in 1939 and published 18 books of poetry. He was known for his love of Jewish folklore and his expert knowledge of the Yiddish language.

Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 1.38.12 PM

M.M. Shaffir, Screen Shot from Cindy Marshall’s Film “A Life of Song: a Portrait of Ruth Rubin”

He was a close friend of the linguist, writer and editor Mordkhe Schaechter, and visited him in the Bronx several times.  At one of these occasions in 1974, the Sholem-Aleichem Cultural Center organized an event honoring his visit and afterward he sang three songs that he had composed at the Gottesman home across the street.

In this post we look at the first of those three songs, a doina-style melody Shteyt in tul an alte mil. He included the words and music in his collection Bay der kholem multer (Montreal, 1983) which are attached.

Several lines in his performance differ from the printed poem. On top of the musical notation, Shaffir wrote “loyt a Romeynishn folksmotiv” – “adapted from a Romanian folk melody.” To compare a Romanian traditional song to Shaffir’s composition Romanian music researcher Shaun Williams suggested listening to this Romanian doina sung by Maria Tanase:

Singer and scholar Michael Alpert also suggested listening to this Romanian “epic ballad”:

In Cindy Marshall’s film “A Life of Song: A Portrait of Ruth Rubin”, Shaffir can be seen in the episode where Rubin records singers in Montreal. The photo of him in this blog is taken from that scene. The entire film can be seen at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Legacy website.

TRANSCRIPTION

1) Shteyt in tul an alte mil.
Veyn ikh dortn in der shtil.
Shteyen dortn verbes tsvey
Veyn ikh oys mayn harts far zey.

2) Ergets vayt in kelt un shney
iz gefaln mayn Andrei.
Ergets af a vistn feld.
Hot zayn harts zikh opgeshtelt.

3)Deym boyars tsvey sheyne zin
zenen nisht avek ahin.
Nor Andrei hot men opgeshikt
hot a koyl zayn harts fartsikt.

4) Hot zayn harts zikh opgeshtelt.
Ergets oyf a vistn feld.
Ergets vayt in kelt un shney
S’iz mir vind un s’iz mir vey.

TRANSLATION

An old mill stands in the field
where I cry there quietly.
Two willows are there
and I cry my heart out for them.

Somewhere distant in cold and snow
my Andrei has fallen.
Somewhere on a barren field
his heart stopped beating.

The boyar’s two handsome sons
did not go there.
Only Andrei was sent
and a bullet devoured his heart.

His heart stopped beating
somewhere on a barren field.
Somewhere far in cold and snow,
Woe is me, how it hurts!

From Bay der kholem multer by M.M. Shaffir (Montreal, 1983) pp. 72-73:
Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 2.15.02 PMScreen Shot 2019-02-21 at 2.15.20 PM

“Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner / I am a Small Gypsy (Rom) Lad
Pre-war version from Chernovitz, Romania.
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The more popular song version of this poem by Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) was composed by Hertz Rubin (1911 – 1958) and has been recorded by at least thirteen artists. According to Chana and Yosl Mlotek in Songs of Generations, the singer Masha Benya received that version from Manger’s widow Genia Manger after the second world war in NY.

MangerItzik Manger in his Chernovitz days, 1920s

But this earlier version has a different melody, and slightly different words without the “Ekh du fidele du mayn” refrain. BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, which was Romania between the world wars and is now in the Ukraine.

Manger’s lyrics carry a number of commonly-held negative stereotypes about Romany (Gypsy) culture. However, considering the time in which he was writing, through first-person narration, Manger creates a sympathetic window into the challenges faced by Roma including poverty, oppression, and a sense of otherness as a minority community. The ever-wandering Manger, no doubt, felt like a kindred spirit.

In the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO, Sore Kessler sings this Chernovitz version and explains she learned it from the Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir in Montreal. Shaffir was also from the Bukovina region (not Bessarabia as Kessler says in her spoken introduction), and a friend of BSG. Some of Kessler’s text differs and she sings a verse that BSG does not:

Shtendik zaynen mir af vegn,
mir af vegn.
Say bay nakht,
un say in regn.

Always are we travelling,
travelling [on the roads.]
Both at night
and in the rain.

Accordionist Mishka Zignaoff (who was a Yiddish-speaking Russian Rom musician based in New York) recorded the melody as Galitzianer khosid (Galician Hasid) in a medley with the famous Reb Dovidl’s nign.

I am posting this song to mark Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s 5th yortsayt (1920 – 2013) which falls on the second candle of khanike.

BeyleItzikTapes2Beyle and Itzik Gottesman looking over Yiddish field recordings, 1970s.

TRANSLITERATION

BSG Spoken: [Itzik Manger] iz geveyn maner a landsman, un hot geredt Yidish vi ekh. Vel ikh zingen in durem-yidish azoy vi er hot geredt. “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” un di lider vus ikh zing zenen a bisele, tsi mul, andersh vi ir zingt zey, val ikh ken zey nokh fun der heym.

1) Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner, gur a kleyner
ober vi ir zeyt a sheyner.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Ikh veys nisht vi ikh bin geboyrn, bin geboyrn.
Di mame hot mikh in steppe farloyrn
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

2) Dem tatn hot men oyfgehongen, oyfgehongen
Vayl er iz ganvenen gegangen
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Burves, hingerik un freylekh, ober freylekh
Fil ikh zikh vi a ben-meylekh.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

3) In mayn lidl kent ir hern, kent ir hern
Mayn tatns zifts, mayn mames trern.
Tra-La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

S’kost in gantsn nor a drayer, nor eyn drayer.
S’iz mayn veytik gurnisht tayer.
Trala-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

TRANSLATION

BSG Spoken: “[Itzik Manger] was from the same city as me and spoke Yiddish as I do. So I will sing in the southern Yiddish that he spoke.  “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” and the other songs that I will sing are a little different than the way you sing them because I learned them form home.”

I’m a small Gypsy lad, a very small Gypsy lad,
But as you see good-looking.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I don’t know where I was born, was born.
My mother lost me somewhere in the Steppes.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

They hanged my father, hanged my father
Because he went thieving.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Barefoot, hungry and merry, always merry.
I feel like a prince.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

In my song you can hear, can hear
My father’s sigh, my mother’s tears.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

It will only cost you three kopecks.
My suffering doesn’t cost much at all.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la
tsigaynerl 1

tsigaynerl 2

tsigaynerl3

“Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg: Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2018 by yiddishsong

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg / When the Holy Sukkoth Days Arrive
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt, Recorded by Beyle Gottesman, Jerusalem 1975

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have not yet found an author/composer of this song but to my mind, it hearkens back to the Broder zingers, the Singers of Brody, the Jewish wandering performers of comic, parodic skits and songs of the nineteenth century. Khave Rosenblatt remembered that she learned the song in Chernovitz, the capital of Bukovina where the Broder Singers often performed in the wine cellars. She also recalled hearing it sung by the Yiddish writer, critic Shloyme Bikl. Rosenblatt’s stellar interpretation turns this song into a little masterpiece.

The motif of a goat eating the covering on the roof of the sukkah is most famously known through Sholem-Aleichem’s short story “Shoyn eyn mol a sukkah” [What a sukkah!], in the volume Mayses far yidishe kinder [Tales for Jewish children].

MayerJuly

Sukkot, Opatów (Apt), Poland, 1920s, as remembered by Mayer Kirshenblatt 

This is the third song of Khave Rosenblatt that we have posted from the recording session with Beyle Gottesman and a couple of more will be added later. At the same time as this recording (1975/1976) Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett recorded Rosenblatt for the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife Research in preparation for the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in 1976 in D.C. This recording can be found on the website of the National Library of Israel (search: חוה רוזנבלט ). Israel was the featured country for the “Old Ways” in the New World section at the festival.

Special thanks to David Braun and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett for this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teyg
kimt mir afn rayen.
Vi s’hot farmosert indzer sikele
Reb Shloymele der dayen.

Oy, az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
kimt mir afn rayen.
Vi s’hot geosert indzer sikele
Reb Shloymele der dayen.

Oy indzer dayen indzerer –
a lekhtiker gan-eydn im.
Hot eymetser farmosert
az in indzer sike indzerer gefoln tsifil zinen-shayn, nu?
Hot er zi geosert.

A sike, zugt er, an emes kusher yidishe
darf zayn a tinkele, darf zayn a fintsere
eyn shtral lekht makht nit oys.
Ober di zin zol shaynen khitspedik?! – fe!
Si’z gurnit yidish.

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
kimt mir afn rayen,
ven se heybt zikh on dos shpiln nis
in hoyf bay Yankl-Shayen

Oy, az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
volt geveyn a khayes,
ven me lozt indz nor tsiri
in hoyf bay Yankl-Shayes.

A yid, a beyzer, vu’ dus iz.
S’geyt im on, me shpilt in nis.
Hot er zikh lib tsi krign.
Staytsh! Me shpilt zikh far zayn tir
un krimt zikh nokh zayn shnir
vus nokh?
Men izbovet im di tsign.

“Un tsign” zugt er “tur men nisht zatshepenen
in di yontif-teg deroyf
ven di sike shteyt in mitn hoyf.
A hint, a kots topn di vont
ober a tsig!?
Aza min vilde zakh vus shtshipet un
dem gantsn skhakh
un lozt di sike un a dakh!
Fe! Hiltayes! Nit zatshepen!

TRANSLATION

When the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
this is what comes to mind –
How our sukkah was denounced
by Reb Shloymele the rabbi’s assistant.

When the Holy Sukkoth days arrive
this is what comes to mind –
How are sukkah was deemed unkosher
by Reb Shloymele the rabbi’s assistant.

Oy, our rabbi’s assistant,
may he have a bright paradise.
Someone denounced our sukkah to him because
too much sunshine fell inside, nu?
So he deemed it unkosher.

“A sukkah” says he “a true, kosher Jewish one
should be dark, should be dim.
One ray of light doesn’t matter
but if the sun should impudently shine in – Fe!
That’s not the Jewish way at all.”

When the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
this is what comes to mind –
The beginning of playing nuts
in the yard of Yankl-Shaye.

Oy, when the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
We could have had so much fun,
if they would only leave us alone
in the yard of Yank-Shaye.

A mean man (what’s the matter with him?!)
that gets upset when we play nuts,
and likes to quarrel with us.
“What’s going on!? Playing nuts on my doorstep
and mocking my daughter-in-law”
What else?
We were ruining his goats.

“And goats” he says “should not be bothered
during the holidays especially when
the sukkah is standing in the middle of the yard.
A dog, a cat will just touch the walls but a goat!
Such a wild thing that grazes
on the covering on the roof.
Fe!  You with no morals, leave them alone!”

sike1sike2sike3

“Mayn tayer mimele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mayn tayer mimele / My Dear Auntie
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a timely song for Elul (beginning August 11-12) since it is mentioned in the first line. Elul leads up to the high holidays and is a serious time of reflection. Mimele (Auntie), it is implied, takes advantage of this charity giving time to rake in some charity for herself.

After the recording of the song, in the brief dialogue with the interviewer Kahn, LSW says she heard it about 50 years ago (around the turn of the 20th century) from older women – her mother or her aunts. She adds that it is not a children’s song and not a theater song. “In our town we hadn’t yet heard about the theater.”

zvinyace

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s shtetl Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina

The Galician songwriter Nokhem Sternheim (1879 – 1942) wrote a popular song Mayn tayere Malkele which was recorded by Miriam Kressyn, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Salomon Klezmorim, Jane Peppler and Noel Akchote. The story behind the Sternheim song is told in Norman Salsitz’s memoirs Three Homelands: Memoirs of Jewish Life in Poland, Israel and America.

The melody also is similar to Dos kishinever shtikele made famous by Moyshe Oysher and recorded by others. The first part of the melody was also played by klezmorim. Dave Tarras includes it in his medley called Kishinev on the CD Dave Tarras: Master of the Jewish Clarinet produced by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.

But in terms of folksong, a version of the Tayer mimele entitled Tayer Yankele with a similar melody and storyline (Yankl is a thief) appears in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920. A scan of that is attached; evidence that Sternheim based his song on the earlier folksong.

TRANSLITERATION:

Ver fleyg geyn rosh-khoydesh Elul mit di pishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.
Ver fleyg bam katsev ganvenen di kishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.

Eyn mul hot zi der tate gekhapt.
Mayn tayer Mimele.
Oy hot er geshlugn, oy hot er geklapt!
Mayn tayer Mimele.

TRANSLATION:

Who used to go around the first day of Elul with a charity box (pushke)?
My dear auntie.
Who used to steal the cow’s intestines from the butcher?
My dear auntie.

Once her father caught her.
My dear auntie.
Oy did he beat her, oy did he hit her.
My dear auntie.
mimele1
mimele2
Tayer Yankele
in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920:

mimele70amimele70b