Archive for field

“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.

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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:
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“Eyns un tsvey” Performed by May (Menye) Schechter

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2018 by yiddishsong

Eyns un tsvey / One and Two
Performance by May (Menye) Schechter
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Circle Lodge Camp, Hopewell Junction, NY, 1985

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

To welcome the beginning of the school year we present a Yiddish children’s song written and composed in New York but sung by the children in Eastern Europe Jewish schools as well.

The singer May Schechter (Yiddish name “Menye”)  was born in August 1920 in Soroki (Yiddish- Soroke), Bessarabia, then Romania. She died this year, February 2018.

may schechter picMay (Menye) Schechter 1920-2018

In an interview I conducted with her in 1986 at Circle Lodge, the Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY, Schechter explained that the children in Soroki performed this song as part of Zishe Weinper’s (Vaynper) children’s operetta Der bafrayter (The One Who Was Liberated). Der bafrayter was published by Farlag Matones in 1925, NY. We are attaching the Yiddish words and music (composed by N. Zaslavsky/Zaslawsky) as it appeared there. Yosl Kotler did wonderful illustrations for the publication.

befrayter pic
Picture of Der Bafrayter by Yosl Kotler

May Schechter’s daughter, Naomi Schechter, wrote  about her mother:

She liked to say “I came in singing and I’m going to go out singing” and she was able to do that almost to the end, sharing Russian songs with her caretaker Luba and Yiddish and other songs with me. She also loved to dance. She had many talents including being a world class seamstress able to make couture suits, drapery and just about anything, carrying on the tailoring tradition of her family…

May Schechter’s husband was Ben Schechter, the long time manager of the Folksbiene Yiddish theater in NY.

The poet Zishe Weinper (1893 – 1957) came to America in 1913. He was a central figure in the Yiddish left and a number of his poems appealed to composers, among them “Toybn” and “A pastekhl, a troymer”. His song Zingendik, music by Paul Lamkoff, was another American Yiddish children’s song that became popular in Eastern Europe.

The composer Nathan Zaslavsky (1885 – 1965) immigrated to the US in 1900 and composed a number of other Yiddish songs. Sarah Gorby recorded this song twice we are attaching the MP3 of the version on:  Sarah Gorby – Yiddish et Judeo-Espagnole (Arton Records).

One verse of the  song was also recorded by Masha Benye and Workmen Circle school children on the LP Lomir zingen lider far yidishe kinder. Since May Schechter and Sarah Gorby both came from Bessarabia one has to wonder whether the play Der bafrayter was especially popular there.

Special thanks to Naomi Schechter for this week’s post, as well as Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archive.

TRANSLITERATION

Eyns un tsvey, eyns un tsvey
eyns un tsvey iz dray.
Zun bahelt undzer velt.
Leybn iz keday.

Zum, zum, zum?
Zum, zum, zum?
freygt ba mir a flig.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
entfer ikh tsurik.

Tsvey un tsvey, tsvey un tsvey
tsvey un tsvey iz fir.
Vintl bluz afn gruz,
bluzt es oykh af mir.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
zingt a vaserfal.
Blyasket blendt, glit un brent.
Iber im a shtral.

Fir un fir, fir un fir
fir un fir iz akht.
Af a kark fun a barg
hot zikh ver tselakht.

Kha-kha-kha, kha-kha-kha
ver zhe lakht es dort?
Kha-kha-kha, kha, kha, kha
Me hert dort nisht keyn vort.

Finf un finf, finef un finf
finef un finf iz tsen.
kling klang klingt
Foygl zingt.
Vazt mir, vos er ken.

Foygl flit, taykhl tsit
Ikh tsi oykh mit zey.
Eyns un eyns, eyns un eyns.
Eyns un eyns iz tsvey.

TRANSLATION

One and two, one and two
one and two is three.
Sun light up our world,
It’s worth living.

Zum, zum, zum, zum, zum, zum?
A fly asks me.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
Is my reply.

Two and two, two and two
two and two is four.
Breeze blows on the grass
and so too it blows on me.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
sings a waterfall.
Shines and dazzles, glows and burns
A beam of light above.

Four and four, four and four
four and four is eight.
On the neck of a hill
someone was laughing.

Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
who is laughing there?
Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
Not a word is heard.

Five and five, five and five
Five and five is ten.
Kling-klang rings, the bird sings
Shows me what he can do.

Bird sings, river attracts,
and I am drawn to them.
One and one, one and one
One and two is three.

eyns1

eyns2
eynsmusic

“Kegn gold fun zun” Performed by Chaim Berman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by yiddishsong

Kegn gold fun zun (Toward the Golden Sunrise)
Performance by Chaim Berman
Recording by Rabbi Victor Reinstein
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The words and music for the Soviet-Yiddish song Kegn gold fun zun have been published in Ruth Rubin’s Treasury of Jewish Folksong and Chana and Joseph Mlotek’s Songs of Generations (see below). The words were also included in Sam Liptzin’s collection Zingen mir (1974). Apparently it was a well-known song in the 1930s- 1960s; however, the only recording of the song that we are aware of is on Ruth Rubin’s 1940s 78 rpm recording Ruth Rubin: Jewish and Palestinian Folksongs and among the field recordings in Ruth Rubin’s collection (tape 81) found in YIVO and other archives.

Kegn78-1The composer is unknown, but the text was written by the Soviet Yiddish poet Shloyme Lopatin (Lopate). According to Chaim Beider’s Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband, (pp.194 – 195) Shloyme Lopatin was born in Belinkove, Ukraine in 1907. He settled in a Jewish colony in the Kherson area for several years and became a colonist. In 1929 he came to Odessa to further his studies. He published his first songs in 1928 in the Kharkov Yiddish journal Prolit, and among these first published writings was the poem Ikh, der yidisher muzhik (I, the Jewish Russian Peasant). Beider writes that this poem “immediately became so popular that people began to sing it as if it were a folksong, and it was then included as such in anthologies”. Lopatin died fighting on the Russian front in 1941.

This week’s recording of folksinger Chaim Berman (d. 1973) was made by Rabbi Victor Reinstein in the 1970s. Berman’s words vary from the printed texts in the second verse, where he repeats the first two lines from the first verse.

Kegn gold fun zun

“Nakhtishe lider” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The author of the text to “Nakhtishe lider”, Herz Rivkin was born Herzl Heisiner in Capresti, Bessarabia (today Moldova) in 1908, and died in a Soviet gulag, November 14, 1951. The poem is taken from  his only printed poetry collection “In shkheynishn dorf”  [From the Neighboring Village], Bucharest, 1938. Reprinted in Bucharest, 1977.

Herz Rivkin

The composer of the melody is unknown. The performer of this week’s posting, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (my mother), learned this song in Chernovitz in the 1930s. The only recording of the song is by Arkady Gendler on his CD “My Hometown Soroke”,  2001. That version is incomplete with two verses by Rivkin, and a third by Gendler.  Gendler titles the song “Nakhtike lider” which is the original title in Rivkin’s book.

Singer Michael Alpert has initiated and directs a concert program with singer/bandura player Julian Kytasty which brings together Jewish and Ukrainian singers and musicians in a collaborative program, the title of which “Night Songs from a Neighboring Village” was inspired by this song.

I recorded my mother’s performance of “Nakhtishe lider” at home in the Bronx in the 1980s. The audio quality of the recording is unfortunately not stable (be careful when listening – the volume increases significantly at 0:27), but Schaechter-Gottesman’s singing here is a wonderful example of what I would call urban interwar Yiddish singing and contrasts powerfully with the older plaintive, communal shtetl-style of her mother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.

Nakhtishe lider fun shkheynishn dorf
farblondzen amol tsu mayn ganik.
Zey leshn mayn troyer; zey gletn mayn umet.
Zey flisn vi zaftiker honig.

Night Songs from the neighboring village.
Lose their way to my porch.
They extinguish my sadness; they caress my melancholy.
They flow like juicy honey.

Lider khakhlatske, muntere, frishe.
Vos shmekn mit feld un mit shayer.
Zey filn di luft un mit varemkeyt liber,
vos shtromt fun a heymishn fayer.

Ukrainian Songs, upbeat and fresh
that smell with field and barn.
They fill the air with a loving warmth,
that streams from an intimiate fire.

Nakht iz in shtetl, ikh lig afn ganik.
Ver darf haynt der mames geleyger?
Iz vos, az s’iz eyns? Iz vos, az s’iz tsvey?
Iz vos az shlogt dray shoyn der zeyger?

It’s nighttime in town; I lay on my porch.
Who needs today my mother’s place to sleep?
So what if it’s one? So what if it’s two?
So what if the clock strikes three?

Her ikh un ikh veys nisht iz yontif in dorf.
Tsi es hilyen zikh glat azoy yingen.
Az vos iz der khilek? Oyb s’vet bald, mir dakht
di levone oykh onheybn tsu zingen.

I listen and I don’t know if it’s a celebration in the village,
or just some kids are singing.
But what is the difference? If soon, it seems
The moon will also start to sing.

Azoy gisn amol zikh fun skheynishn dorf
heymishe, zaftike tener.
Biz s’heybt on frimorgn tsu vargn di nakht
un ez heybn on kreyen shoyn di heyner.

In this way pours out, from the neighboring village
intimate, juicy melodies.
Until the early morning begins to choke the night
and the roosters start to crow.