Archive for heartbreak

“Vus a mul brent dus fayer greser” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2020 by yiddishsong

Vus a mul brent dus fayer greser / The Fire Burns Stronger Each Day
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn NY  1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Yet another lyrical love song from the repertory of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW). In this dialogue, the women speaks first then the second and third verses are spoken by the man. postcardIn the Ruth Rubin Archive, Frida Lobell begins her version with the following verse:

Keyner veyst nisht vi mir iz biter (No one knows how bitter I feel)
keyner veyst nisht vi mir iz shlekht. (No one knows how bad I feel)
Keyner veyst nisht vi ikh tsiter (No one knows how I shake)
az di furst fin mir avek. (When you leave me) 

Other versions of this version can be found in “Folkslider in Galitsye”, Oyzer Pipe and Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe, YIVO-bleter vol. Xl no. 1-2, 1937 songs #36 and #37 and Cahan Yidisher folklor, 1938, #55. But LSW’s last line, “Your beauty will fade like the dew in the open field” is the most poetic.

TRANSLITERATION

“Vus a mul vert dus fayer greser,
ven ikh zey dekh mit a tsveyter geyn.
Shtekhn vel ikh meykh mit a meser.
Mer zol ikh fin dir dus nisht zeyn.”

“Shtekh dekh nisht, mayn tayer zis leybn,
vayl dayn plage iz dokh gur imzist.
Ikh bin tsi mazl a khusn gevorn
in dir loz Got bashern veymen di vi’st.

Di vi’st dekh meynen, di bist di shenste,
in di angenemste af der velt.
Dan sheynkeyt vet fargeyn
azoy vi di rose afn frayen feld.
Oy, dayn sheynkeyt vet fargeyen
vi di rose afn frayen feld.”

TRANSLATION

“The fire burns stronger each day
when I see you standing with another.
I will stab myself with a knife –
I don’t want to see this any more.” 

“Don’t stab yourself my beloved
For your suffering is for naught.
I am now luckily engaged,
and may God grant you whomever you want. 

You thought you were the most beautiful
and the most pleasant in the world.
Your beauty will fade
like the dew in the open field.”

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“Az in droysn geyt a reygn vern di shteyner nas” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2019 by yiddishsong

Az in droysn geyt a reygn vern di shteyner nas
When It Rains Outside the Stones Get Wet

Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
BSG recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx, 1980s; LSW recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) learned this lyrical love song from her mother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), and LSW probably learned it in her hometown of Zvinyetshke, Bukovina. At this “zingeray” (song sharing session) in the Gottesman home, one can hear other singers featured on “Yiddish Song of the Week” – Tsunye Rymer and Ita Taub  joining in:

Leybl Kahn had years earlier recorded LSW singing the same song; so we have a rare opportunity to compare the singing of the same song by mother and daughter:

In this performance BSG leaves out the second verse which she usually included. LSW does include that verse.  I have transcribed and translated both versions though they are very similar.

Both versions have the wonderful rhyme of “khipe” (wedding canopy) with “klipe” (shrew or an evil spirit that won’t leave you alone).

aznin droysn image

Painting by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

A recording of BSG singing this song with all the verses appears on the CD “Bay mayn mames shtibele” (At My Mother’s House, 2004) with violin accompaniment by Alicia Svigals

At the beginning and end of the LSW recording the collector Leybl Kahn sounds confused because LSW had just sung for him another song beginning with the same line “Az in droysn geyt a reygn”.

 BSG TRANSLITERATION

Az in droysn geyt a reygn,
vern di shteyndelekh nas.
Un az a meydele shpilt a libe
vern ire bekelekh blas.

Second verse that she left out:
Un az zi shpilt shoyn oys di libe
farlirt zi dokh ire farbn.
Un az zi shpilt nisht oys di libe,
miz zi dokh yingerheyt shtarbn]

Vos dreysti dikh mame far mayne oygn?
Dreyst dekh nor vi a klipe.
Kh’vel mit im avekforn in an anderer medine
un vel mit im shteln a khipe. 

Oy, un a shadkhn, oy vey iz der mamen,
vet ir zikh beyde nemen?
Say ez vet dir git geyn, say es vet dir shlekht geyn –
far keyn kind vil ekh dikh mer nisht kenen. 

Az in droysn geyt a reygn,
vern di shteyndelekh nas.
Un az a meydele shpilt a libe
vern ire bekelekh blas.

BSG TRANSLATION 

Outside, when it rains
the stones get wet.
And when a girl falls in love
her cheeks get pale.

Second verse that she left out:
And if the love is successful
she loses her colors.
And if the love is unrequited
then she must die

Why are you always before my eyes, mother.
You’re clinging to me like an evil spirit.
I will run away with him to a foreign land
and marry him under a canopy.

“Without a matchmaker, woe is to your mother,
you will take each other?
I don’t care if things go well, or bad with you.
I will no longer  consider you as my child”

Outside, when it rains
the stones get wet.
And when a girl falls in love
her cheeks get pale.

LSW VERSION TRANSLITERATION

Az in droysn geyt a reygn
vern di shteyndelekh nas.
In az a meydele shpilt a libe
vern ir di bekelekh blas.

In az zi shpilt di libe
vert zi dokh un di farbn
In az zi shpilt nisht oys di libe
miz zi dekh yingerheyt shtarbn.

Vus dreysti dikh, mametshkele, far mayne oygn.
Di dreyst dekh arim vi a klipe.
Ikh vel mit im avekfurn in a fremder medine
un vel mit im shteln a khipe. 

Un a shadkhn oy vey iz der mame
vet ir aykh beyde nemen.
Say es vet aykh git zayn, say ez vet aykh shlekht zan
Far keyn kind, vil ikh dekh mer nit kenen. 

Say es vet aykh git zayn, say ez vet aykh shlekht zayn
Far keyn kind, vil ikh dekh mer nit kenen.
Say es vet dir git zayn, say ez vet aykh shlekht zayn
Far keyn kind, vil ikh dekh mer nit kenen. 

LSW TRANSLATION

Outside, when it rains
the stones get wet.
And when a girl has a love
her cheeks get pale.

And if the love is successful
she loses her colors.
and if the love unrequited
then she must die

Why are you always before my eyes, mother.
You’re clinging to me like an evil spirit.
I will run away with him to a foreign land
and marry him under a canopy.

“Without a matchmaker, woe is to your mother,
you will take each other?
I don’t care if things go well, or bad with you.
I will no longer consider you as my child”

droysn1droysn2droysn3

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droysn5b

“Oy vey mame ikh lib a sheyn yingl” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2019 by yiddishsong

Oy vey mame ikh lib a sheyn yingl / Oh, Mother, I Love a Beautiful Boy
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG)
Recorded at the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, West Virginia, 1990.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

During the summer of 1990 Yiddish singer and teacher Ethel Raim had been asked to teach Yiddish song for “vocal week” at the Augusta Heritage Center, in West Virginia.  She asked to bring Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, who turned 70 that summer, with her to co-teach.

Gildene PaveYedaAmJan. 1950 Hey-Vov
Ethel Raim (left) and Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

At the end of the “Vocal Week” the much larger Augusta Heritage Folk Festival took place on the same grounds and BSG sang this song from the stage at that occasion.

This song was learned by BSG in the United States after her arrival in 1951. It can be heard on a record sung by Feigele Panitz. It is also sung on a field recording by the singer and actress Diana Blumenfeld in the Stonehill Jewish Song Collection, curated online by Miriam Isaacs for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. Blumenfeld sings an additional third verse.

Thanks to Ethel Raim for this week’s post. 

TRANSLITERATION

Oy vey mame ikh lib a sheyn yingl.
Sheyn iz er vi di gantse velt.
Far zan sheynkeyt iz er ba mir eyner.
Un durkh im vert mayn harts farbrent.

Vifl tsures hob ikh zikh ungelitn.
Biz ikh hob gekent im derkenen.
Takhn trern, oy, ti ikh fargisn,
ven ikh ti zikh un im dermanen.

Kh’vel shoyn mer keyn libe nisht shpiln.
Ikh vel shoyn mer inter zayn fentster nisht shteyn.
Es zol zan harts azoy vi mans tsepiket vern,
vet er mer azoy groys bay zikh nisht zan.

TRANSLATION

Oh mother I’m in love with a handsome boy.
He’s as beautiful as the whole world.
Because of his beauty he is my one and only.
and for him my heart burns.

How many troubles had I suffered,
until I could recognize him for what he was.
Rivers of tears, oy, do I spill,
when I think of him.

I will no longer love him,
I will no longer stand under his window.
Let his heart break like mine;
then he will not be so conceited.
Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 3.42.10 PM

“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

“In mayn hartsn brent a fayer” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2018 by yiddishsong

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NY

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Another lyrical love song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) from the Leybl Kahn recordings of 1954.

Katchor1Katchor2Lifshe Schaechter Widman & Leybl Kahn by Ben Katchor

Two similar versions of the song without the melody were collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe and Oyzer Pipe in Sanok, Galicia and published in the YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937 in Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, page 62. I have mentioned before in this blog that of all the pre-World War Two collections of Yiddish folksong, the Pipe brothers’ Galicia, Poland, collections come closest to LSW’s Bukovina repertory.

Note that LSW sings “malekh- hamus”, which is her dialect form for “malekh-hamoves” (angel of death).

Regarding the comic strip above: the artist Ben Katchor imagined how these 1954 recording sessions might have looked in his advertisement for the cassette Az di furst avek. The strip appeared in the collection Picture Story 2 (NY. 1986, edited by Ben Katchor).

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart

TRANSLITERATION

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer
nor me zeyt nisht keyn royekh aroys.
Ekh hob gemeynt bist a malekh fin deym himl.
Tsum sof bisti mayn malekh-hamus

Mayne eltern tien mikh freygn,
vus ikh gey azoy arim  betribt.
Vi ken ikh zey mayn shmarts dertseyln,
az ekh hob mekh in dir farlibt.

Az ikh hob mekh in dir farlibt.
hot keyn shum foygl af der velt hot nisht gevist.
Haynt iz a rash in ale gasn,
az indzer libe iz imzist.

Az di libe iz imzist;
Es geyt mir azh un a geveyn.
Far veymen blaybt den di veytik
Az nisht nor bay mir aleyn.

TRANSLATION

A fire burns in my heart
but no smoke can be seen.
I thought you were an angel from heaven,
turns out you’re the angel of death.

My parents ask me
why I go around so sad.
How can I tell them of my pain –
that I have fallen in love with you.

That I have fallen in love with you –
not a bird the world over knew about it.
Today there’s much talk in all the streets
that our love is for naught.

That our love is for naught
keeps me crying.
With whom will stay this pain
if not only with me.

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brent3

Shmuel-Zaynvil and Oyzer Pipe, Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937:
Pipe-brent

Merke Levine Performs “Mayn harts, mayn harts”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mayn harts, mayn harts / My heart, my heart
Sung by Merke (Mary) Levine, recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Bronx, July 6, 1991

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer Merke (Mary) Levine was from Belarus and came to NY after the first world war. She lived in the Bronx and was active in the Yiddish left, and later in life was a board member of the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx. Her husband Tevye Levine was a teacher in the Arbeter ordn folkshuln.

merkeMerke (Mary) Levine

This love song Mayn harts, mayn harts is found twice in the YIVO Ruth Rubin on-line collection. There it is sung both by Golde Fried and her husband Israel (Sruli) Freed with the same melody and only minor textual differences.

In terms of  Yiddish folksong poetry, what stands out is the line “Mayne gedanken – ahin, aher”, which I translated as “My thoughts – any way you look at it”.  The expression “ahin-aher” or “hin-her” can also mean “after long discussion”, or “to get to the point”

TRANSCRIPTION

Mayn harts, mayn harts veynt in mir.
Ikh darf zikh sheydn itst mit dir.
Mayne gedanken – ahin-aher.
Mit dir tsu sheydn iz mir shver.

Vu forstu mayn zis lebn?
Vu forstu fun mir avek?
Vu vel ikh dir darfn zukhn?
Zog zhe mir in velkhn veg?

Fun yedn shtetele, fun yedn derfele,
a brivele shraybn zolstu mir.
Betn, bet ikh dir mayn zis lebn,
nit fargesn zolstu mir.

TRANSLATION

My heart, my heart cries in me.
I must now part with you.
My thoughts – anyway you look at it: [lit: this way, that way]
to leave you is hard for me.

Where are you traveling my dear love?
Where are you traveling and leaving me?
Where will I have to search for you?
Tell me in which way?

From each town, from each village
you should write me a letter.
I ask of you, my dear love,
please not to forget me.

mayn harts yiddish

“Oy, di ershte zakh” Performed by Tsunye Rymer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2018 by yiddishsong

Oy, di ershte zakh
O, The First Thing
Sung by Tsunye Rymer
Recorded in NYC by Itzik Gottesman, 1985
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Tsunye (Isaac) Rymer learned this in his hometown of Krosne (Krasna), Ukraine, from a tailor who was a wonderful singer and therefore called “Kanarik” – canary.

RymerphotoTsunye Rymer

Just as Rymer was leaving for America in 1921, he visited Kanarik on the “Tailor’s Street.” It was summer but Kanarik was covered with a blanket.  It was said he had tuberculosis. He called Rymer over and asked him to sing something together with him. “This was the last song we sang together in Krosno”.

Often Yiddish songs that employ Russian/Ukrainian words for the rhymes use them to humorous effect, but in this serious song that is obviously not the case.

Thanks to Paula Teitelbuam for helping with this week’s blog.

TRANSLITERATION 

Oy, di ershte zakh vel ikh dikh mamenyu beytn
in di zolst es mir tin tsilib.
Az Got vet helfn un az ikh vel shtarbn,
Zol men mekh derkhtrugn derkh mayn libstn shtib

Un nokh a zakh vel ikh dikh mamenyu beytn
in di zolst es yisponyayen. [carry out, execute]
Az mayn gelibter vet in shtib araynkimen
zolst im khotsh nisht obizhayen. [offend]

In dus iz mamenyu mayn letste bite –
di zolst im in gurnit obvinyayen. [blame, fault, accuse]
kh’hob man leybn zikh aleyn genemen
ikh zol nit darfn mer stradayen. [suffer]

TRANSLATION

O, the first thing, mother, that I ask of you,
and you should do it for my sake.
God willing, when I die,
they should carry me past my loved one’s house.

And another thing, I ask of you mother,
and you should carry it out.
If my loved one should enter our house,
at the least, do not offend him

And this, mother, is my last request:
you should not blame him for anything.
I took my own life,
I should no longer have to suffer.
zakh1

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“Oy vey mame” Performed by Ita Taub

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Ita (or Eta) Taub (1908 – 2003) was born in the Ukrainian town of Stidenitse on the Dniester river. She immigrated to Montreal and then New York. She published two volumes of autobiography in Yiddish, Ikh gedenk (I Remember), with one volume appearing posthumously. She also wrote a volume of poetry, In klem fun benkshaft (In the Fetters of Longing, Jerusalem, 1993) and published the Yiddish love poetry and love letters sent to her by an admirer (Libe briv un lider by Itzik Freiman).

She was well known for her philanthropic generosity and financially supported numerous Yiddish causes, especially those connected to Soviet Yiddish literature. She was a classy lady, as they say, with a huge apartment on 106th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. By the time I recorded her, her voice was clearly not very powerful, but she still could sing an unaccompanied Yiddish folksong in a compelling way.


Ita Taub in the Gottesman’s Sukke in the Bronx, 1990s

The song Oy vey mame was one of two she remembered from her shtetl. Ruth Rubin recorded her singing both in 1962 and they are in included in the publication Yiddish Folksongs in the Ruth Rubin Collection (Mlotek/Slobin, 2007). Oy vey mame is on page 54; a scan of that page is reproduced below. As Rubin notes, the closest variant found to this song is in I. L. Cahan’s collection Yidishe folkslider mit melodyes (1957, #150). The dramatic last line that Ita sings about commiting suicide is not found in that version. This recording was made in the Bronx in the mid-1980s at the Gottesman’s house.

Ita’s other shtetl song, Got hob bashafn mentshn af der velt is found in the Rubin collection on pages 61-62. She picked up many other songs on her travels which we hope to present in future postings.

Pete Rushefsky adds: Each verse of Oy vey mame is comprised of two sections employing distinct modal characters. The modulation between the two sections creates a haunting sound that imbues the piece with gravity and tragedy. The first section is transcribed in B-major, but the melody initially implies the subdominant F# major. The second section shifts to a tonal center of C# in a mode described by the pioneering Jewish musicologist Abraham Zvi Idelsohn as the “Ahava Raba” scale, also known by cantors and klezmorim as “freygish” (an allusion to its similarity to the phrygian scale). Ahava Raba is additionally consistent with the Turco-Arabic maqam of hijaz/hicaz. Here, the melody descends from F# to the new C# tonal center, followed by a second descending passage from F# further down to the subtonic B.  Finally the section resolves through an ascending/descending sequence with an ending that mirrors the initial F# to C# descent. The written musical transcription below contains a few discrepancies from the recording – it is likely there are errors in the transcription, though I have not heard Rubin’s recording of Taub to analyze differences with the Gottesman recording made two decades later.