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“Es hot geshneyet un geregnt” Performed by Esther Gold

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2018 by yiddishsong

Es hot geshneyet un geregnt (Dos borvese meydele)
It was Snowing and Raining (The Barefoot Girl)
text by Morris Rosenfeld, sung by Esther Gold
Recorded by Dr. Diane Gold in 1983 in Massachusetts

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s recording  was sent to me by Joe (Yosl) Kurland, Yiddish singer, songwriter, teacher  based in Western Massachusetts. It was recorded by the singer’s granddaughter Diane Gold so that Kurland could sing it at the bar-mitsve of her three sons.

As one can tell from this moving performance, the song meant a lot to Esther Gold since she had learned it from her father in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Esther Gold (1900 – 1984) was born in Bryansk, Russia (southwest of Moscow) and came to New York in 1906.

gold pic 1Esther Gold (center) with parents & brothers 

Kurland realized that she sang the song to the same melody as David Edelshtadt’s song In kamf (Mir zaynen gehast un getribn) and combined the two at the bar-mitsves.

The text is by the great “sweatshop poet” Morris Rosenfeld and can be found in Volume II of his Shriftn (Writings). We are attaching the poem from that 1912 publication where it is called Tsu a borvose meydl – To a Barefoot Girl.

The original poem has twelve verses, Esther Gold sings nine. I have transcribed the words as Gold sings them which are incredibly accurate compared to the original. On occasion I have put in brackets the original word or phrase as found in Rosenfeld’s poem if different. The singer forgets one line in verse eight and I have put the original text in its place.

Significantly, the order of the last three verses differs from Rosenfeld’s. She ends the poem with the verse that suggests the barefoot girl could become a prostitute. A very powerful ending indeed. But the poet placed that verse third from the end, and concludes with Gold’s verse seven in which he worries about his own child.

Esther husband babyEsther Gold with her husband Isador (“Izzie”) and son H. Carl (“Chaim”) Gold (Carl is Diane Gold’s father).

Diane Gold writes about her grandmother, Esther Gold and about the song:

Our Grandma Esther was born in Bryansk (Russia), the daughter of Dina and Elhanan (Harris) Scheinin, and young sister to Eddie (Aaron) and Joe. I believe there was another sibling who died in childhood. Her grandmother came from Starodub and her grandfather came from Kriemenchuck (Kremenchuk, Ukraine). The birthdate she was given when they arrived at Ellis Island in 1906 was January 1, 1900. She died on December 28, 1984.

Harris, who was a fine tailor in Russia, came by ship to NYC in 1906, a little earlier in the year than Dina (a midwife) and the children. My father Carl, who grew up in the same household as his grandfather, remembers Harris as a gentle man with high principals who insisted that Carl never put his hands behind his back, as it was important not to be hiding things from people. Harris insisted on looking for fine tailoring work and according to the family was injured demonstrating against sweated labor and even against union leaders who were in league with the bosses. Not surprisingly he had trouble finding work, and this made for tensions and sadness in the family. He banned Esther from working in garment factories.

Esther learned the Borvese meydl song as a girl by his side at home, and I imagine him singing to her as he sewed and pressed clothing. The words of this song were real to him, I am certain. He worried about the fate of his children, and children who were even worse off than his immediate family. I am not surprised, given his politics and background that the version of the song he shared with Esther was put to the tune of In Kamf. 

The siblings worked as children and teenagers.  Dina berated Joe for selling newspapers and chewing gum, but took the money. As a teenager Esther, who must have been a gay flapper with a love of show tunes, got a job splicing film at Universal Studios in New York, where she met our grandfather Isador Gold, who was a photographer in Europe in WWI and did some of the first silent film newsreels. Living under the magnifying glass of the demanding and bewildered older generation, that marriage sadly fell apart and my dad grew up without a father, with his mom in his grandparents’ household. For a while Esther kept the books (and I think the accounts) for our great-uncle Joe, who eventually flourished financially in the New York cement business. Then, from when I was little, I remember Esther was a “salesgirl” in the girl’s department at B. Altman’s, living alone after her parents died in her rent controlled apartment at 110 Post Avenue. She only moved to be with us in Newington, Connecticut in the last years of her life, with no savings or pension after years of work, after she became blind. She was a petit determined intelligent loving grandma harboring memories damping her capacity for joy, which bubbled up when she talked about her girlfriends, when she dressed us in the finest clothes from Altman’s, when she kvelled at our accomplishments or when she sang.

Thanks to Joe (Yosl) Kurland, and Dr. Diane Gold and family.

TRANSLITERATION

1) Es hot dort geshneyt un geregnt
un geyendik shnel durkhn gas.
A meydele hob ikh bagegnt
halb naket un borves un nas.

2) Zi hot mit di nakete fislekh
gepatsht dem fargosenem bruk.
Un epes azoy vi fardrislekh
geshaynt hot ir kindisher kuk.

3) Kleyn meydele zog mir vu geystu?
Durkh regn, durkh shney un durkh kelt?
Zog mir mayn kind tsi farshteystu
vi iberik du bist oyf der velt?

4) Di velt velkhe lozt dir do zukhn
a lebn durkh elnt un leyd.
Un vil dayne fis nit bashukhn
nit haltn dayn guf in ayn [a] kleyd.

5) Zog, zaynen dir fremd di gefiln?
Tsi falt gor nit ayn der gedank,
ven du zolst zikh itstert farkiln
dan falstu avek un bist krank.

6) Ver vet dir damols kurirn?
Ver vet far dir epes ton?
Di velt velkhe lozt dir farfrirn,
Der Got velkher kukt [dir] nit on?

7) Derfar muz ikh veynen un klogn.
Es ken eykh zayn mit mayn kind
ven mir (mikh) zoln tsores dershlogn,
un ir zol farvarfn der vint.

8) Derfar muz ikh veynen un klogn.
Derfar heyb ikh uf a geshrey.
Derfar (nor, yo, volt ikh dikh kishn)
Tsu helfn tsu shtiln mayn (dayn) vey.

9) Dayn borveskeyt, kind, dayne trern
dayn geyn un nit visn a vu.
veys ikh, vos es ken vern
fun meydlekh, azelkhe vi du.

TRANSLATION

1) It was snowing and raining,
and while walking down the street,
I encountered a girl
half naked, barefoot and wet.

2) With her bare feet
she slapped the pavings stones.
And, in what looked like regret,
her childlike appearance shone.

3) Little girl, tell me where you’re going
in this rain, through the snow and cold
Tell me my child, do you understand
how superfluous you are in this world?

4) The world that lets you search here
for a lonely suffering life.
And does not want to shoe your feet
and not clothe your body in a dress.

5) Tell me, do you have these feelings
or does it not occur to you,
that if you were to catch cold here,
you’d be struck down and be sick.

6) Who would then heal you?
Who would do something for you?
The world that lets you freeze?
The God who does not even look at you?

7) Therefore I must cry and lament:
it could also happen to my child;
when sorrows would depress me,
and the wind would blow her far away.

8) Therefore I must weep and lament;
Therefore I raise up a cry.
Therefore, yes,  [I would kiss you ]
to help you quiet my [your] pain.

9) You being barefoot, child, your tears,
your wandering not knowing where;
I know what could become
of girls such as you.

Gold1

gold2

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Below is Tsu a borvose meydl – To a Barefoot Girl, from Shriftn (Writings), Vol. II, pp. 143-145 by Morris Rosenfeld (1912, New York):

mrosenfeld1mrosenfeld2.jpeg<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-4273" src="https://yiddishsong.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/mrosenfeld3-e1540485244566.jpeg&quot; alt="mrosenfeld3" width="564" height="186" /

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Mark Varshavski’s “Vi halt ikh dus oys?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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

Vi halt ikh dus oys? – How Can One Stand It?
Words and Music: Mark Varshavski
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded by Leybl Kahn NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Vi halt ikh dus oys is surely one of the saddest songs from a composer, Mark Varshavski (aka Warshavsky) known for his classic nostalgic and upbeat songs such as Oyfn pripetshok, Milner’s trern and Di mezinke oysgegebn.

In her brief discussion with Leybl Kahn before and after she sings, LSW connected the -message of the song to the Zionist movement; a commentary on the eternal wandering of the Jews. She also affirms that she learned it from an aunt in her small town of Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina.

For a full biography of Mark Varshavski (1848 – 1907) see the YIVO Encyclopedia.

mark varshavsky picMark Varshavski in Berdichev, 1900 (YIVO)

In her very emotional performance, the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] stays remarkably close to the original text which is attached at the end of the post from the volume “Yidishe folkslider fun M. M. Varshavski” One interesting textual change, however, is in the line where LSW sings:

Farentfer di kashe, Got di bist groys
[Answer the question – God you are vast/supreme]

In Varshavski’s original text it reads:
S’farenfert di kashe, Got du bist groys
[The question is answered by – God you are vast/supreme]

The folklorized words by LSW address God directly, reflecting a more intimate relationship with God than in Varshavki’s version.

I could not find a previous recording of this song, neither on record, CD nor in field recordings. However, a song about Mendel Beilis and his infamous trial (1911-1913), accusing him of a blood libel is based on this Varshavski song. Lorin Sklamberg, YIVO sound archivist and lead singer for The Klezmatics, sang Dos lid fun Mendel Beilis at YIVO in 2013:

Thanks for help with this week’s post to Lorin Sklamberg.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi halt men dus oys? Farshtey ikh nisht kh’lebn.
Es iz shoyn fin Got azoy mir bashert.
Bay veymen s’iz a yontif dus shtikele leybn:
Bay mir iz dus leybn shvarts vi di erd.
Far vus un far ven, fregt mekh nit eyner.
Farentfer di kashe – Got di bist groys.
Es triknt in mir der marekh fun mayne beyner,
un ikh halt dus nit oys; ikh halt dus nit oys.

Vi halt men dus oys? Es iz avade a vinder.
Vi ikh shlep mayne krank, geshvolene fis.
Ikh blondze arim mit mayne ureme kinder
un vi ikh kim iz finster in vist.
A du ken ikh nisht shteyn, a du tor men nit lign.
azoy tsit men fin mir mayne koykhes aroys.
Vu ikh gey her ikh eyn nign –
Ikh halt dus nit oys; ikh halt dus nit oys.

A yeder fin aykh, say rakh say urem,
hot dus alte beys-oylem shoyn gezeyn.
Dort lign alte, tsebrokhene kvurim,
un fun dort hert men a geveyn.
Azoy iz tsebrokhn iz mir yeder eyver,
di velt iz mir fintster khotshe zi iz groys.
Oy, dek dikh af gikher, di fintserer keyver.
Vayl ikh halt dus nit oys, ikh halt dus nit oys.

TRANSLATION

How can one stand this? I swear I don’t understand.
It must be decreed from God.
For those who enjoy a little of life –
For me is life black as the earth.
Why and for what reason? No one asks me.
Answer the question, God you are supreme.
The marrow of my bones is drying
and I can no longer stand it, I can no longer stand it.

How can I stand it? It is truly a wonder.
I drag my sick, swollen legs.
I wander aimlessly with my poor children
and wherever I come, I feel dark and deserted.
There I may not stand; here I may not lay.
And in this way my strength disspipates.
Wherever I go I hear only one tune –
I cannot stand this; I can no longer stand this.

Each of you, the rich and the poor
has surely seen out Jewish cemetery.
There lay old, broken graves
and from deep in the graves one hears a cry.
Thus is broken in me every limb.
The world is as dark as it is vast.
O, cover me up you dark grave
Because I can no longer take it, I can no longer take it.

vi halt 1 yidvi halt 2 yid

warshavkiBookWarshavski1Warshavski2

“Mir af a shifl, dir af a lotke” Performed by Zelig Schnadover

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2017 by yiddishsong

 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Arie

This  one-verse song ‘Mir af a shifl, dir af a lotke’ (“A Boat for Me, a Canoe for You”) was performed by Zelig Schnadover, and recorded by Itzik Gottesman in Mexico City, 1988. Curiously, the first line from this ditty appears under the boat in the above 1960s painting of the Israeli artist Arie Aroch (1908-1974), who spent his childhood in Kharkov (Kharkiv), Ukraine.

Zelig Schnadover was born in 1907 in Slavuta [Yiddish – Slavite סלאַוויטע ] Ukraine. In 1920 they “escaped the Bolsheviks” and the family went to Poland. He had his bar-mitsve in Brody, [Yiddish – Brod], Poland. He lived in Poland until 1926 and learned the song there. Schnadover emigrated to Mexico City in 1926/27.

ZeligFoto

Zelig Schnadover

To make money in the early years in Mexico City Schnadover was part of a group of singers who provided the soundtrack to silent movies, many of them Russian, so they sang Russian songs. They didn’t have much time to prepare – usually they had not seen the movie earlier so amusing things happened. An example he gave was for Abel Gance’s film  Napoleon. The group was still singing a waltz as the projector was already showing a battle scene. When I knew him he had been the longtime owner of a stationary store, a papeleria, near the center of the city, the Zocolo.

Mir af a shifl,
Dir af a lotke.
Mir a sheyn meydl
Dir a tshekhotke

Me on a boat,
you on a canoe.
Me – a pretty girl
You – one with tuberculosis. 

After the initial posting, musicologist Dmitri “Zisl” Slepovitch pointed out a connection to a song he had recorded from Sterna Gorodetskaya in Mahilyow (Mogilev), Belarus, which was posted earlier to the Yiddish Song of the Week.

Also, a variant of the song from Brest-Litovsk (Yiddish – Brisk, now in Belarus) appears in I. L. Cahan’s 1912 collection with no music but with a second verse and presents it as a dialogue. The first verse sung by “He”, the second one by “She”.

Er:
Ikh af a shifele
Du af a lodke,
Ikh a soldat,
Du a soldadtke.

Zi:
Ikh af a shifele
Du af a lotke;
Ikh a sheyn meydele,
Du a sukhotke.

He:
I on a boat
You on a canoe.
I – a [male] soldier
You – a [female] soldier. 

She:
I on a boat,
You on a canoe
I – a pretty girl
You – a girl with tuberculosis.

Here is how it appears in Cahan’s 1912 collection:

CahanYID1912

Special thanks for help with this week’s posting goes to Tamara Gleason Freidberg, Paul Glasser and Rachel Greene. 

 

“Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu dermanen” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2014 by yiddishsong

Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu dermanen
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recording by Leybl Kahn, NYC,  1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We have drawn on three sources to look at Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s singing of Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu dermanen, a Yiddish woman’s song if ever there was one. The wide geographic range of variants (see the notes to the song in Yidisher folklor, 1938), indicates that it dates at least as far as the mid-19th century. The song is a mediation on the tragedy of divorce/abandonment from a woman of the times’ perspective.

w-forwardlookingback-011913The Jewish Daily Forward newspaper in NY ran a column “Gallery of Husbands Who Disappeared” to track down men who abandoned their wives, leaving them “agunes”.

The first source is the recording itself. Since I also heard this song from Lifshe’s daughter – my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman – I have put Beyle’s alternate words in brackets and I believe those are the “correct” words: “dermanen” not “baklern”, “di blum” instead of “der boym”. Beyle learned the song from Lifshe and there are grammatical indications to support her version.

The second source is the YIVO volume Yidisher folklor, 1938. Song #132 in that work is the same song but heard in Podbroz, near Vilna, Lithuania; quite a distance from Lifshe’s Bukovina homeland. We have included the words and melody of that version in which the singer sings “di roze” instead of Lifshe’s “boym” and “agune” (an abandoned wife) instead of Lifshe’s “grushe” (a divorcee). My mother also sang “agune” and I believe that is how it was most widely sung.

The third source is the Ruth Rubin field-recording housed at YIVO of the fine singer Bill Lubell (hometown unknown). We have not included the recording but have transcribed his words.

In his performance a “woman’s song” has been adapted for a male singer. No longer is there a mention of “widow”, “divorcee” or “abandoned wife”. Without the build-up found in the woman’s version leading to the climactic description of an agune being discarded, the “man’s version” pales in comparison.

In my mind, it does not take too much imagination to interpret the verse “The flower blooms in the woods – the rain falls on her – she then loses her color” in a Freudian manner.

VERSION BY LIFSHE SCHAECHTER-WIDMAN

Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu baklern [dermanen]
Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu badenken.
Fal ikh arayn in alerley krenken,
fal ikh aran in alerley krenken.

When I begin to ponder [remember]
When I begin to consider,
I fall into all
sorts of illnesses.

Alerleyke krenken
ken a doktor heyln.
Nor mayn krenk
Ken ikh keynem nisht dertseyln.

All kinds of illnesses
can be cured by a doctor.
But about my illness
I can tell no one.

Der boym [di blum] vakst in vald
Der reygn geyt af ir.
Farlirt er [zi ] dekh oykh
dem sheynem kolir.

The tree [flower] grows in the forest.
The rain falls on it.
And so it loses
its beautiful color.

Nisht azoy di kolirn
vi di sheyne farbn.
Eyder aza leybn
iz beser tsi shtarbn.

Not so much the colors,
as the beautiful colors.
Rather than such a life,
it would be better to die.

Yingerheyt tsi shtarbn,
iz dokh oykh a sakune.
Eyder tsi blabn
a yinge almune.

To die young
is also a danger.
Better than remaining
a young widow.

An almune blaybt men
A’ der man shtarbt avek.
A grishe [an agune] nor blaybt men
ven der man varft avek.

One becomes a widow
when the husband dies.
A woman becomes divorced [abandoned]
when the husband discards.
badenken1badenken2badenken3
VERSION FROM PODBROZ, VILNE REGION (from Yidisher folklor, 1938, click to enlarge):

sheyneRoza
DiSheyneRoze

“Di mode” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I never thought I would thank Google Books in this blog, but the website has opened up tremendous possibilities for the Yiddish folksong researcher. In addition to having access to song collections, one can type in a search word in Yiddish and find it in dozens or hundreds of works. The Harvard Library and its unique Leo Wiener Collection, which is full of 19th century Yiddish folk literature, is being made available on the site.

And so I was able to look at Yitskhok-Yoel Linetski‘s work Der beyzer marshelik (1869) for the first time in its entirety. One of the poems is called „Di mode‟ (“Fashion;” “modehas two syllables) and I immediately identified it as the source of a song my grandmother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] sang called „Di mode.” 

Linetski (1839 – 1915) was one of the earliest maskilic (“enlightened”) Yiddish writers, and his novel Dos Poylishe yingl (1868) later called “Dos khsidishe yingl‟ was the first bestseller of modern Yiddish literature.

Yitskhok-Yoel Linetski

Linetski’s life story was amazing. He was raised in a strict Hasidic home in Vinnitsa, and when he was suspected of reading “forbidden” literature, he was married off at age fourteen to a twelve-year old girl. But then he convinced his young wife of his path, so they forced him to divorce her and marry a “deaf, half-idiotic woman” (see Zalmen Reizen‘s Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur). That didn‘t work either and when they tried to throw him into the river, he escaped to Odessa.

To analyze how Linetski‘s text was folklorized in LSW‘s version, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn in New York City, is a longer essay. But as an example, compare Linetski‘s original refrain:

Oy a ruekh in der mode a leyd.
Vos zi hot af der velt a nets farshpreyt!

Oh, the devil take the fashion, what a pain,
That spread a net over the world. 

with LSW‘s refrain:

Oy, nor di mode aleyn, nor di mode aleyn, 
 hot far undz umglik gebrengt.

Oh, only the fashion alone, only the fashion alone
has brought us misfortune. 

Only in the last refrain does she sing “the devil take the fashion,” which I believe works better dramatically. Usually the “folk process” improves the longer, wordy maskilic poetry.

Other songs that originate from the work Beyzer marshelik are Dos redl  performed by (Israel Srul) Freed on Ruth Rubin‘s field recording collection “Jewish Life: The Old Country” and recently recorded as the title track of klezmer violinist Jake Shulman-Ment‘s CD A Wheel/A redele, sung by Benjy Fox-Rosen. LSW also sang a version of Dos vigele with the opening line „Shlis shoyn mayn kind dayne oygn…‟ which will be posted on this blog at some point.

In LSW‘s performance of Di mode you get to hear her sing a more upbeat song, with a great melody. The traditional aspects of  LSW‘s singing (the ornamentaion in particular) are applied to a more modern song, and the synthesis works wonderfully.

This recording of Di mode can be found on the Global Village Music cassette recording “Az di furst avek: a Yiddish folksinger from the Bukovina” now available on iTunes.