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Two Children’s Dance Songs from Eastern Galicia Performed by Mordkhe Schaechter

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2015 by yiddishsong

Two Children’s Dance Songs from Eastern Galicia
Sung by Mordkhe Schaechter
Recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, New York

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In memory of my uncle, the Yiddish scholar Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter (1927 – 2007), whose yortsayt was last week, we present two short children’s dance songs from Eastern Galicia, from the town known in Yiddish as “Yigolnitse” and today in Ukrainian as “Yahilnytsya” (also written at one time as “Jagielnica, Yagielnitse”), 6 miles from Chortkov.

In earlier posts on YSW of Schaechter’s songs, we told of his collecting folklore in the displaced persons camp in Vienna 1947 – 1950. This post is also part of that project done for YIVO.

Family in DP camp in 1950Schaechter Family in the DP Camp, 1950

A couple of words are unclear: “oltazhe” and “ketse” and David Braun and Janina Wurbs offered suggestions on these words and others. Some are footnoted at the end of the song. Any further clarification from our readers would be appreciated.

In the second song, Schaechter uses the girl’s name “Beyltsye”, his sister’s name, but one is supposed to insert any name at that point in the song.

About this second song one can honestly say – you lose much in the translation. It incorporates German words (Galicia was Austra-Hungary after all) perhaps for comic effect.

Leybl Kahn informs us in the recording that it was printed in an issue of the Seminarist (in the early 1950s) so once that is found, more information on the song might come to light.

Schaechter: This is a dance song from Yigolnitse.

[The boy sings]
Hindele, hindele,
vus zhe klobsti blumen?
az der her vet zen
vet er dekh shlugn.

Hindele, Hindele
why do you gather flowers?
If the gentleman [herr] sees you,
he will beat you.

[The girls answers]
Az der her vet zen,
vel ikh mikh bahaltn,
oyf der sheyner oltazhe*
vel ikh mikh shteln knien.

If the gentleman sees me,
I will hide.
On the beautiful church altar,
will I kneel down.

Kahn: Dos zingt dos meydele?
The girl sings this [the second verse]?

Schaechter: Yo. (Yes.)

Kahn: Dos iz fun Yigolnitse, mizrekh-Galitsye?
This is from Yigolnitse, Eastern Galicia?

Schaechter: Yo… dos iz nisht vikhtik…a Yigolitser mizrekh-Galitsyaner tantslid.
Yes… whatever…..an Eastern Galician dance song from Yigolnitse.

Kahn: Dos lidl iz gedrukt inem “Seminarist”, aroysgegebn funem Yidishn lerer-seminar.
This song was published in the “Seminarist”, published by the “Jewish Teacher’s Seminary”.

Dreyts mer of der ketse**,
vayl di ketse klingt.
Klingt shoyn “ya” vi a nar,
Opgelebt zibtsik yar,
Di zibtsik yar [h]erum,
Beyltsye dreyt zikh um.

Turn [crank up] the ketse more,
for the ketse rings/makes a sound
It rings now “ja” [yes]
like a fool.
70 years of life gone by,
70 years later
Beyltsye turns around.

Di sheyne Beyltsye hot zikh umgekert,
der keyser hot dem grestn vert.
Dreyts mer of der ketse,
vayl di ketse klingt.
Kling shoyn “ya” vi a nar,
Opgelebt zibtsik yar,
Di zibtsik yar [h]erum”…

The pretty Beyltsye turned around.
The emperor has the greatest worth.
Turn [on] the “ketse”
For the “ketse” rings/resounds.
Now it rings with a “ja” like a fool,***
70 years of life gone by,
The 70 years …

Schaechter: Un azoy vayter, un azoy vayter.
And so on and so forth.)

*Probably an altar in a Polish church [suggested by David Braun]
** Perhaps a basket from the German “Kötze” [suggested by Janina Wurbs]. If a basket, then perhaps “ketse” means a gramophone or music box? It makes sense in this context. [suggested by David Braun]

2 galitz 1

2 galitz 2

2 galitz 3

2 galitz 4

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“Dos daytshl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Yiddish Song of the Week is glad to be back after a brief hiatus caused by a hurricane-related telecommunications breakdown.

“Dos Daytshl”  (“The German Guy”) as sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] (see previous posts for her biography) is linguistically the most complicated song yet posted.

The comic ballad is international and found in many languages and is known in the Child canon as “Our Goodman” (#274). The texts have remained remarkably similar through time and languages. My folklore professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Kenneth Goldstein, played us a field recording he had made of African-American kids in West Philadelphia singing a rap version of this ballad and the words were almost the exact ones as the Yiddish lyrics LSW sings.

In The Folks Songs of Ashkenaz (pp. 139 – 142) edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Otto Holzapfel (2001), the editors make an interesting comparison of a Yiddish version found in the Ginsburg-Marek collection to a German version collected in German colonies in southern Russia. Unfortunately, they only compare the texts, though several Yiddish versions with melodies have been printed (for example, one melody of a Yiddish version exists in Yidisher folklor, YIVO 1938). Their brief history of the ballad indicates that the German versions of the song came from a Scottish variant in late 19th century, and after it was published in a German almanac in 1790 it circulated much more widely.

There are many printed Yiddish versions of the song, most recently in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive  (p. 30-31)  edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin. Their introduction refers to other printed Yiddish versions. On the Yiddish ballad in comparison to other international versions read Chana Mlotek’s “International Motifs in the Yiddish Ballad” in For Max Weinriech on his Seventieth Birthday. The Yiddish ballad was still popular into the 1930s in Eastern Europe.

Since LSW comes from the Bukovina, where Jews were fluent in Yiddish and German, the German element in the song has to be analyzed not just as Germanisms in a Yiddish text, but as to what these German words evoke when sung by a Yiddish folksinger who is performing a comic song making fun of a German. Does the singing of  “Eyns, tsvey, drey” and not “dray” which would be the correct form in both Yiddish and German, indicate a funny hypercorrection of a German based word in Yiddish?

Of course, it’s not just any German being made fun of here, but a German peasant or farmer. The Germanisms also imply that such a song about a cuckold would “never” be sung about a Jewish husband and wife. Since LSW usually sings slow mournful songs it’s refreshing to hear her sing a comic song with such gusto and drama.

Click here to listen to Lifshe Schaechter-Widman performing “Dos daytshl”

Dos daytshl
The German Guy

Kum ikh zikh arayn in kukhl
Gefin ikh zikh – okh un vey!
In kukhl hengen zeybls –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter my kitchen
What do I find – woe is me!
In the kitchen are hanging swords,
One and two and twee.

Dan rukh ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin
“Kindkhin vos iz dos?
Vos far a zeybls hengen dort?
Akh vi ruft men dos?”

So I call in my wife
Dear child, what is this?
What are those swords hanging there,
What do you call them?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
vos zeystu zeybls dort?
Bratfanen zenen dort,
vos mayn muter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
what swords do you see there?
Frying pans are there
that my mother sent to me

Kum ikh zikh arayn in shtale,
gefin ikh zikh – okh un vey!
In shtale shteyen ferde –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter the stalls,
and what do I find – woe is me!
In the stalls are standing horses,
One and two and twee.

Dan rukh ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin –
kindkhin vos iz dos?
Vos far a ferde shteyen dort,
akh vi ruft men dos?

So I call in my wife,
Dear child what is this?
What are those horses standing there,
what do you call it?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
dos zint kayn [?] ferdchen dort
milikh ki, zenen dort,
vos mayn miter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
Those are not horses there.
Milk cows are there,
that my mother sent to me.

Kum ikh zikh arayn in shloftsimer,
Gefin ikh zikh okh un vey!
In shloftsimer shlofn mener –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter into the bedroom,
What do I find – Woe is me!
In the bedroom men are sleeping,
One and two and three.

Dan ruf ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin
kindkhen vos iz dos?
Vos far a mener shlofn dort –
akh vi ruft men dos?

So I call in my wife,
Wife, what is this?
What men are sleeping there,
How do you call this?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
vos rifsti mener dort.
Dinstmegde zenen dort,
vos mayn muter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
what are calling men over there,
Servant girls are there,
that my mother sent to me.

Dinstmegde (n) mit bakn berd?
Okh un vey un vind
Vos far a man bin ikh bay dir,
az fremde mener komen tsu dir.

Servant girls with bearded cheeks?
Woe is me.
What kind of husband am I to you,
If strange men are visiting.

Daytshl 1
Daytshl2
Daytshl3
daytshl4

“Tayere Toni” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection 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