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Badkhn Toyvye Birnbaum’s Improvisation of “Yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2021 by yiddishsong

Badkhn Toyvye Birnbaum’s  Improvisation  of  “Yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn”
Recorded in Brooklyn circa 1982 by Itzik Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Birnbaum sings the refrain of the popular song “Yidish iz dokh azoy sheyn” and then improvises the verses in the tradition of a badkhn, the Jewish wedding entertainer. Birnbaum referred to these improvisations as “shtey gramen“, rhymes created at the moment, while standing. 

Toyvye (Tobias) Birnbaum was born in Nowy Sacz, Poland, (Yiddish = Tsanz) in 1916. I met him in 1981 in Brighton Beach, NYC in the street. I was was walking with Yiddish actor Zvi Scooler, and Birnbaum recognized Scooler and came over. When he told us that he was a badkhn in Eastern Europe, I took his phone number and we became friends. 

Toyvye Birnbaum, Collection of the Museum at Eldridge Street

The song “Yiddish redt zikh azoy sheyn” was written by Isidore Lillian and the music composed by Maurice Rauch. The original text and music were printed in the Mlotek collection Songs of Generations and we are attaching those scans. But it seems that just about no one sings the words as originally written. This is also reflected in this performance during which the guests sing along with different words.

Among those who have recorded this song are Ben-Zion Witler, Henri Gerro, Johnny Grey, and more recently Myriam Fuks, the Klezical Tradition, Clarita Paskin, Harold Goldfarb and Mirele Rozen. The texts of their versions vary, especially in the verses. Witler’s and Gerro’s versions were particularly popular and Birnbaum’s way of singing owes quite a bit to them. His punctuation of  the word “Yiddish” in the refrain is a nice touch.

Here is a link to Gerro’s version:

This song was recorded at a “fraytik-tsu-nakhts” (friday night, sabbath eve) at my apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, approximately 1982.  Among the people at this event that I recall or can be hear are Michael Alpert, Joshua Waletzky, Zwi Kanar. One of Birnbaum’s rhymes refers to two Germans in attendance that evening who had come to study Yiddish (at YIVO/Columbia). I do not remember who that was. 

The Yiddish scholar Vera Szabo interviewed Birnbaum, and her papers and recordings are at YIVO. Klezmer musican and researchers Joshua Horowitz and Michael Alpert have also worked or interviewed with Birnbaum.

Thanks this week to Joshua Horowitz and Vera Szabo.

Yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn

Ikh gedenk di kinder-yurn,
sheyninke kinder-yurn.
In hartsn ayngekritst zenen zey bay mir.
Di yinge zikhroynes, di sheyne khaloymes
leygn in hartsn bay mir.

I remember my childhood
wonderful childhood. 
They are inscribed in my heart.
The memories of youth, the sweet dreams
lay deep in my heart.

Freyg ikh aykh tsi besers iz den farhan?
Ven di khaveyrim fun Itziklen kimen zikh tsuzam?
Men est, me trinkt, keyad hameylekh,
der oylem fraylekh.
Vil ikh aykh, zayt zeh azoy git,
Lernt aykh os dus lidele un zingt zhe mit mir mit.  Vus?

So I ask you, is there anything better?
When friends come together to Itzik’s place?
We eat, we drink, as if we were kings.
The people are happy.
So I ask you please,
learn this song
and sing along with me. What?

REFRAIN
Yidish redt zikh azoy gring.
Yidish leygt zikh oyf der tsing
Yidish redn ales
Zaydes, tates mames
Oy, adarebe, zug oyf goyish
“Git shabes”.
Yidish iz dekh azoy sheyn
Yidish hot a toyznt kheyn.
Vus toygn mir leshoynes, fun fremde zikhroynes.
Az yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn.

Speaking Yiddish is so easy.
Yiddish is easy to pronounce.
Yiddish is spoken  by everyone
Grandfathers, fathers, mothers.
Just try to say in any foreign tongue – 
 “gut shabes” [good sabbath]
Yiddish is so beautiful
Yiddish has a thousand charms.
What do I need languages from other memories
When Yiddish sounds so sweet. 

Tsi iz den epes besers farhan,
ikh miz aykh zugn nokh a mol ven me kimt zikh tsizam, 
Durkh deym vil ikh aykh nisht dertserenen
un ikh vel aykh a lidele oyslernen
zayt zhet ale azoy git, lern akykh oys dus lidele
zingt zhe mit mir mit.

Is there anything better,
may I repeat, when we all get together?
With this I don’t want to make you angry
and I will teach you a song.
So please learn the song and sing along.

Yidish iz dokh azoy sheyn.
Yidish hot a toyznt kheyn.
Yidish redn ales”
Zaydes, tates, mames
Oy, adarebe zug af goyish:
“Git shabes”
Yidish iz dokh azoy gring.
Yidish leygt zikh oyf der tsing.
Vus toygn mir leshoynes fun andere mikoymes.
Az Yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn.

Yiddish sounds so sweet.
Yiddish has a thousand charms.
Yiddish spoken by all,
grandfathers, fathers and mothers.
Just try to say “Gut shabes” in another language. 
It’s so easy to speak Yiddish.
It’s so easy to pronounce Yiddish.
What do I need languages 

from far other places. 
Yiddish sounds so sweet. 

Yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn
yidish hot a toyznt kheyn.
yidish redn ales
zaydes, tates, mames
Oy, adarebe zugt af goyish:
“Git shabes”
Yidish iz dokh azoy gring.
Yidish leygt zikh oyf der tsing.
vus toygn mir leshoynes fun andere mikoymes.
Az yidish redt zikh azoy gring.

Yiddish sounds so sweet.
Yiddish has a thousand charms.
Yiddish is spoken by all,
grandfathers, fathers and mothers.
Just try to say “Gut shabes” in a foreign tongue.
It’s so easy to speak Yiddish.
It’s so easy to pronounce Yiddish.
What do I need languages 

from far other places.
When Yiddish sounds so sweet.

Oy az yidn redn yidish,
vus iz den du der khidesh?
yidish vet azoy sheyn klingen,
say bam redn, un shener bam zingen.
Duz iz klur vi der tug.
Duz beyt’ ekh der batkhn 
un hert zhe vus ikh zug.

Oy, that Jews speak Yiddish,
what’s the big deal?
Yiddish will sound wonderful
both when you speak it, and evern more so when you sing it.
This is clear as day.
So the badkhn asks you
and hear what I say.

Yidish redt zikh azoy sheyn.
Yidish hot a toyznt kheyn.
Yidish redn ales,
Zaydes, tates, mames
Oy, adarebe zugt af goyish:
“Git shabes”.
Yidish iz dokh azoy gring.
Yidish leygt zikh oyf der tsing.
Vus toygn mir leshoynes
fin andere mikoymes?
Az yidish redt zikh azoy gring.

Yiddish sounds so sweet.
Yiddish has a thousand charms.
Yiddish is spoken by all,
grandfathers, fathers and mothers.
Just try to say “Gut shabes” in a foreign tongue.
It’s so easy to speak Yiddish.
It’s so easy to pronounce Yiddish.
What do I need languages 

from far other places, when Yiddish sounds so sweet.

Di gantse velt zugt az yidish hot azoy fil kheyn.
Ven yidish i’ nisht geveyn git, volt yidish nisht gekimen tsu Itziklen tsi geyn. 
Un nokh deym vil ikh aykh nisht dertserenen.
Ir mizt dokh hobn a fink fin yidish, vus ir vilt zikh yidish oyslernen. 
S’iz nisht keyn kharpe, s’iz nisht keyn shand.
Tsvay mentshn zenen gekimen zikh lernen yidish
azsh fin Daytshland. 
Nokh deym vintsh ikh aykh ale du, hatslukhe un a shir.
Dus letste zug ikh  zingt zhe mit mit mir.

The whole world says that Yiddish has so much charm.
If Yiddish weren’t good, then Yiddish would not come to Itzik.
And after all I don’t want to enrage you.
You must have a spark of Yiddish to want to learn it.
There’s no shame, no disgrace.
Two people came to study Yiddish
all the way from Germany.
So after all, I wish you all success without end.
For the last time, sing along with me. 

Yidish iz dokh azoy sheyn.
Yidish hot a toyznt kheyn. 
Yidish redn ales
Zaydes, tates, mames
Oy, adarebe zugt af goyish:
“Git shabes”
Yidish iz dokh azoy gring.
Yidish leygt zikh oyf der tsing.
Vus toygn mir leshoynes
fin andere mikoymes?
Az yidish redt zikh azoy gring.

Yiddish sounds so sweet.
Yiddish has a thousand charms.
Yiddish is spoken by all,
grandfathers, fathers and mothers.
Just try to say “Gut shabes” in a foreign tongue.
It’s so easy to speak Yiddish.
It’s so easy to pronounce Yiddish.
What do I need languages 

from far other places, when Yiddish sounds so sweet.

Az ikh hob aykh du gezugt gramen
s’hot aykh afile farshaft a bisele tamen. 
Her zhe Itzikl tsi zikh tsi mayn shmis
der mentsh iz shoyn geveyn in der gantser velt
un oykhet in Pariz.
Lomir nor zan gezint in shtark. 
Men iz gekimen hern a yidishe drushele 
keyn Prospekt Park. 
Mit deym vil ale zugn aykhץ
Un zayt aykh matriekh
un dus lidele lernt zikh oys vus gikh.
Dus hob ikh ale simunim 
ven ir zingt yidish keyn-hore laytish
shaynt af ayer punim. 
Atsindert vil ikh aykh tsvingen
Dus letste mul, beyt ikh aykh, 
nokh a mol mit mir mittsuzingen.

And so I have said some rhymes here.
It even gave you some pleasure.
So listen Itzik to my converstion.
He has gone all over the world, and also Paris.
Let us all be healthy and strong.
People came to hear my talk to Prospect Park. 
And with this I say to you.
Please try to learn this song quickly.
For this I have all the signs:
when you sing Yiddish right, no evil eye,
your face shines. 
So now I demand of you all
to sing for the last time, I ask you,
to sing along with me. 

דער בדחן טובֿיה בירנבוים זינגט 
„ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי שיין”
רעקאָרדירט פֿון איציק גאָטעסמאַן
 אין ברוקלין, אַן ערך 1982

.איך געדענק די קינדעריאָרן, שיינינקע קינדעריאָרן
.אין האַרצן אײַנגעקריצט זענען זיי בײַ מיר
די יונגע זכרונות, די שיינע חלומות
.לייגן [ליגן] אין האַרצן בײַ מיר
?פֿרעג איך אײַך, צי בעסערס איז דען פֿאַרהאַן
?ווען די חבֿרים פֿון איציקלען קומען זיך צוזאַם
,מען עסט, מע טרינקט, כּיד־המלך
.דער עולם פֿריילעך
,וויל איך אײַך, זײַט אַזוי גוט
לערנט אײַך אויס דאָס לידעלע און זינגט זשע 
?מיט מיר מיט.  וואָס

:צוזינג
.ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי גרינג
.ייִדיש לייגט זיך אויף דער צונג
ייִדיש רעדן אַלעס
,זיידעס, טאַטעס, מאַמעס
.אַדרבא, זאָגט אויף גוייִש  „גוט שבת”
.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי שיין
.ייִדיש האָט אַ טויזנט חן
וואָס טויגן מיר לשונות, פֿון פֿרעמדע זכרונות
.אַז ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי שיין

.צי איז דען עפּעס בעסערס פֿאַרהאַן
.איך מוז אײַך זאָגן נאָך אַ מאָל, ווען מע קומט זיך צוזאַם
דורך דעם וויל איך אײַך נישט דערצערענען
.און וועל אײַך אַ לידעלע אויסלערנען.
,זײַט זשעט אַלע אַזוי גוט, לערנט אײַך אויס דאָס לידעלע
.זינגט זשע מיט מיר מיט

.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי שיין
.ייִדיש האָט אַ טויזנט חן
ייִדן רעדן אַלעס
זיידעס, טאַטעס מאַמעס
אוי, אַדרבא זאָגט אויף גוייִש 
.”גוט־שבת”
.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי גרינג
.ייִדיש לייגט זיך אויף דער צונג
וואָס טויגן מיר לשונות
,פֿון אַדער מקומות
.אַז ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי שיין

,אוי, אַז ייִדן רעדן ייִדיש
?וואָס איז דען דאָ דער חידוש
,ייִדיש וועט אַזוי שיין קלינגען 
.סײַ בײַם רעדן, און שענער בײַן זינגען
.דאָס איז קלאָר ווי דער טאָג
דאָס בעט אײַך דער בטחן
.און הערט זשע וואָס איך זאָג

.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי שיין
.ייִדיש האָט אַ טויזנט חן
ייִדן רעדן אַלעס
זיידעס, טאַטעס מאַמעס
אוי, אַדרבא זאָגט אויף גוייִש 
.”גוט־שבת”
.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי גרינג
.ייִדיש לייגט זיך אויף דער צונג
וואָס טויגן מיר לשונות
,פֿון אַנדערע מקומות,
.אַז ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי שיין

.די גאַנצע וועלט זאָגט, אַז ייִדיש האָט אַזוי פֿיל חן
ווען ייִדיש וואָלט נישט געווען גוט, וואָלט ייִדיש נישט געקומען צו 
.איציקלען צו גיין
.און נאָך דעם וויל איך אײַך נישט דערצערענען
איר מוזט דאָך האָבן אַ פֿונק פֿון ייִדיש, אויב איר ווילט זיך
.ייִדיש אויסלערנערן

.ס’איז נישט קיין חרפּה, ס’איז נישט קיין שאַנד
צוויי מענטשן זענען געקומען זיך לערנען ייִדיש
.אַזש פֿון דײַטשלאַד
.נאָך דעם ווינטש איך אײַך אַלע דו, הצלחה אָן אַ שיעור
.דאָס לעצטע זאָג איך זינגט זשע מיט מיט מיר

.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי שיין
.ייִדיש האָט אַ טויזנט חן
ייִדן רעדן אַלעס
זיידעס, טאַטעס מאַמעס
אוי, אַדרבא זאָגט אויף גוייִש 
.”גוט־שבת”
.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי גרינג
.ייִדיש לייגט זיך אויף דער צונג
וואָס טויגן מיר לשונות
,פֿון אַדער מקומות
.אַז ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי שיין

,אַז איך האָב אײַך געזאָגט גראַמען
.ס’האָט אײַך אַפֿילו פֿאַרשאַפֿט אַ ביסעלע טעמען
.הער זשע איציקל צו זיך צו צו מײַן שמועס
דער מענטש איז שוין געווען אין דער גאַנצער וועלט
.און אויכעט פּאַריז
.לאָמיר נאָר זײַן געזונט און שטאַרק
.מען איז געקומען הערן אַ ייִדיש דרשהלע קיין פּראָספּעקט־פּאַרק
מיט דעם וויל איך זאָגן אײַך
טאָ זײַט איר מטריח
.און דאָס לידעלע לערן אויס וואָס גיך
.דאָס האָב איך אַלע סמנים
,ווען איר ייִדיש, קיין עין־הרע, לײַטיש
.שײַנט אויף אײַער פּנים
,אַצינדערט וויל איך אײַך צווינגען
דאָס לעצטע מאָל, בעט איך אײַך
.נאָך אַ מאָל מיט מיר מיטזינגען

.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי שיין
.ייִדיש האָט אַ טויזנט חן
ייִדן רעדן אַלעס
זיידעס, טאַטעס מאַמעס
אוי, אַדרבא זאָגט אויף גוייִש 
.”גוט־שבת”
.ייִדיש איז דאָך אַזוי גרינג
.ייִדיש לייגט זיך אויף דער צונג
,פֿון אַדער מקומות
וואָס טויגן מיר לשונות
.אַז ייִדיש רעדט זיך אַזוי שיין

From Eleanor and Joseph Mlotek’s, Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song (NY, Workmen’s Circle, 1995):

“Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns?” Performed by Professor David Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2020 by yiddishsong

Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns? / One, one, who knows one?
A Passover Song sung by Professor David Fishman in NYC. Recorded through internet by Itzik Gottsman, Austin TX. March 25, 2020

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Corona virus lockdown did not deter us from recording this gem for Passover. Fishman learned this from Rabbi Herschel Schacter Z’L (1917 – 2013), long time rabbi of the Mosholu Jewish Center in the Bronx.

schachterRabbi Herschel Schacter

This version has eight verses but on Wiki Source.org we found a version with more verses extending to thirteen. Here is the link which is only the text in Yiddish. 

In this Wiki Source version all the previous verses get repeated each time, paralleling other “Ekhod mi yodea” (“Who Knows One”) types of Passover songs such as “Mu asapru, mu adabru”.

shalom of safedIllustration of song “Who Knows One” by painter Shalom of Safed (1887-1980). Reprinted in: A Feast of History by Chaim Raphael. London and Jerusalem: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1972.

At the end of this post we have given the translated and translated extra five verses of the Wiki Source song. Fishman’s version in Yiddish is also given at the very end.

The ethnomusicologist Michael Lukin has sent us additional information on this song including a discussion of it in the Yiddish Forverts newspaper and a similar melody found in a Ukrainian song from the former Yugoslav region.

TRANSLITERATION

Fishman, spoken: “Dos iz a lid vos ikh ken fun mayne kinderyorn. Ikh hob dos gehert fun dem rov, Harav Schachter fun undzer shil. S’iz aza yidishe ‘Ekhod mi yodea'” (This is a song from my childhood. I heard it from Rabbi Schachter from our synagogue. It’s a Yiddish ‘Ekhod mi yodea’).

1) Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz eyns.
Eyns iz hakodesh borekh hu.
Der eybershter in himl. Eyner bistu!
Eyns iz hakodesh borekh hu.
Der Eybershter in himl. Eyner bistu!

2) Tsvey, tsvey ver veyst vos dos iz tsvey?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zog dir zey.
Tsvey lukhes fun sapirshteyn,
Geshribn hot af zey Der Eybershter aleyn.
Tsvey lukhes fun sapirshteyn.
Geshribn hot af zey Der Eybershter aleyn.

3) Dray, dray ver veyst vos dos iz dray?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zing zikh tsu derbay.
Dray oves zenen bay undz do.
Avrom, Yitskhok, Yankev zikhroyno livrokho.
Dray oves zenen bay undz do.
Avrom, Yitskhok, Yankev zikhroyno livrokho.

4) Fir, fir ver veyst vos dos iz fir?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zog zey dir.
Fir imoes zenen bay undz do.
Sore, Rivke, Rokhl un Leyo.
Fir imoes zenen bay undz do.
Sore, Rivke, Rokhl un Leyo.

5) Finf, finf ver veyst vos dos iz finf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz finf.
Di Toyre iz tseteylt af finef sforim.
Breyshis, Shmoys, Vayikro, Bamidbor un Devorim.
Di Toyre iz tseteylt af finf sforim.
Breyshis, Shmoys, Vayikro Bamidbor un Devorim.

6) Zeks, zeks ver veyst vos dos iz zeks?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz zeks..
Af zeks khalokim efn uf un ze:
iz bay undz tseteylt di Toyre-shebal-pe
Af zeks khalokim efn uf un ze:
iz bay undz tseteylt di Toyre-shebal-pe

7) Zibn, zibn ver veyst vos dos iz zibn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz zibn.
Zeks teg a vokh arbetstu,
Der zibeter tog iz shabes, shtel zikh op un ru!
Zeks teg a vokh arbetstu.
Der zibeter tog iz shabes, shtel zikh op un ru!

8) Akht, akht ver veyst vos dos iz akht?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz akht.
Akht teg vert a yingl alt.
Makht men im a bris un er vert gemalt.
Akht teg vert a yingl alt.
Makht men im a bris un er vert gemalt.

TRANSLATION

One, one who knows what is one?
I know, I know, I know what is one.
One is Blessed be his name.
God in heaven. You are one!

Two, two, who knows what is two?
I know, I know and tell you thus.
Two tablets made of sapphire,
written by God himself.

Three, three who knows what is three?
I know, I know, and I sing along.
We have three patriarchs:
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, may their memory be blessed.

Four, four, who knows what is four?
I know, I know and I’ll tell you who they are.
We have four matriarchs.
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Five, five who knows what is five?
I know, I know, I know what is five.
The Torah is divided into five books:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Six, six who knows what is six?
I know, I know, I know what is six.
Six divisions, open up and see:
that is how our oral Torah is divided.

Seven, seven, who knows what is seven?
I know, I know, I know what is seven.
Six days a week you are working.
The seventh day is Sabbath, take a break and rest.

Eight, eight who knows eight?
I know, I know, I know what is eight.
When a boy becomes eight days old
he has a bris and is circumcised.

WIKISOURCE VERSION With five additional verses

9) Nayn, nayn ver veyst vos dos iz nayn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz nayn.
Nayn monatn vert ayngeshtelt
eyder a kind kumt af der velt.

Nine, nine, who knows what is nine?
I know, I know, I know what is nine.
It has been established that Nine months
must pass for a child to come into this world

10) Tsen, tsen ver veyst vos dos iz tsen?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is tsen.
Oyf barg Sinai hot undzer Got
Undz gegebn di tsen gebot.

Ten, ten, who knows what is ten?
I know, I know, I know what is ten.
On Mount Sinai our God
gave us the ten commandments.

11) Elf, elf ver veyst vos dos iz elf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is elf.
Akhod oser lozt unz hern
Yoysefs kholem un di elf shtern.

Eleven, eleven, who knows what is eleven?
I know, I know, I know what is eleven.
Eleven teaches us –
Joseph’s dream and the eleven stars.

12) Tsvelf, tsvelf ver veyst vos dos iz tsvelf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is tsvelf.
Yankevs kinder fun dor tsu dor.
Di tsvelf shvotim un Ruven iz der bkhor.

Twelve, twelve, who knows what is twelve?
I know, I know, I know what is twelve.
Jacob’s children from generation to generation:
the twelve tribes and Reuben is the oldest.

13) Draytsn, draytsn ver veyst vos dos iz draytsn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is draytsn.
A Got fun rakhmones iz undzer boyre.
Draytsn mides lernt undz di Toyre.

Thirteen, thirteen who knows what is thirteen?
I know, I know, I know what is thirteen.
A God of mercy is our creator:
thirteen attributes teaches us the Torah.
passover1passover2passover3passover4

“Royte epl, grine shotns” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2019 by yiddishsong

Royte epl, grine shotns / Red Apples, Green Shadows
Text by Zalmen Schneor, music by Samuel Bugatch
Sung by Jacob (Yankev) Gorelik
Recorded at a concert sponsored by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, NYC, 1990.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The lyrics to this song were written by the Yiddish/Hebrew writer Zalmen Schneour (1886 – 1959). According to Jacob Gorelik’s introduction the music is by the composer Samuel (Shmuel) Bugatch (1898 – 1984). Here is the link to the YIVO Encyclopedia entry on Schneour whose most famous poem/song is Margaritkelekh (Daisies).

GorelikSingsJacob Gorelik at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx.

In Schneour’s volume of collected Yiddish poetry, 40 yor lider un poemen the poem is called Royte epl… and is dated to Vilna, 1906, one of his earliest poems (scan of that poem attached below).

In the sound archives of the National Library of Israel it is sung by Rivke Glazman, recorded by Gila Flam in 1999. Both Glazman and Gorelik were close to the American Poale-Zion (Labor Zionist) movement as was Bugatch.

Here is the link to Glazman’s performance (may require log-in) of Roye epl, grine shotns. Her interpetation differs markedly from Gorelik’s. Gorelik’s version, which we have transliterated and translated, differs, here and there, from the original.

On the life of Samuel Bugatch, see this link at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Among his most famous Yiddish compositions are Zog Maran and A zemer (Reb Motenyu).

TRANSLITERATION

Royte epl, grine shotns,
grozn – samet, himlen – zaydns…
Un a hilkhik taykh-gelekhter
gist zikh, trogt zikh fun der vaytns.

Kum mayn meydl, malekh sheyne!
Frukhtn reytsn, tsvaygn knakn…
Mir an epl, dir an epl
un a gneyvish kush in nakn.

Kum es klingen shoyn di letste,
shoyn di letste gleklekh-blumen;
mir a bliml, dir a bliml
un a drik tsum harts, a shtumen.

Kum… ikh veb do gold-khaloymes
fun der velt un ir troyer;
mir a kholem, dir a kholem
un a shtiln soyd [sod] in oyer.

TRANSLATION

Red apples, green shadows,
grass – velvet, skies – silk.
And a resounding river laughter
streams from far away.

Come my girl, beautiful angel!
The fruits tease us, the branches snap.
An apple for me, an apple for you
and a stealthy kiss on your neck.

Come, the last ringing –
The last bell-flowers [Lillies of the Valley? – IG]
A flower for me, a flower for you,
and a quiet press to the chest.

Come..I weave here golden dreams
of the world and its sadness;
A dream for me, a dream for you
and a quiet secret in your ear.

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