Archive for Jewish Museum of Maryland

“Der internatsyonal” Performed by Martin Horowitz

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Der internatsyonal / The International
Sung by Martin Horowitz, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, August 4, 1973, Baltimore, Maryland. 
From the collection of the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Der internatsyonal as sung by Martin Horowitz

Shteyt oyf ir ale ver nor shklafn
vos hunger laydn muz un noyt.
Der gayst er kokht un ruft tsum vafn
in shlakht undz firn iz er greyt.

Awaken you all who are slaves
who must suffer hunger and poverty.
The spirit boils and calls to arms
into battle it is ready to lead us.

Di velt fun gvaldtatn un laydn
tseshtern veln mir un dan.
Fun frayhayt, glakhheyt a gan-eydn,
bashafn vet der arbetsman.

This world of violence and suffering
will we destroy and then –
from freedom and equality
will we create a paradise.

Dos vet zayn shoyn der letster
un antshaydener shtrayt;
mit dem internatsyonal
shteyt oyf ir arbetslayt!

This will be the last
and decisive struggle,
with the International,
awake, all you workers!

,שטייט אויף איר אַלע ווער נאָר שקלאַפֿן
.וואָס הונגער לײַדן מוז און נויט
דער גײַסט, ער קאָכט און רופֿט צו וואָפֿן
.אין שלאַכט אונדז פֿירן איז ער גרייט

די וועלט פֿון גוואַלדטאַטן און לײַדן
צעשטערן וועלן מיר און דאַן ־ 
,פֿון פֿרײַהײַט, גלײַכהײַט אַ גן ־עדן
.באַשאַפֿן וועט דער אַרבעטסמאַן

דאָס וועט זײַן שוין דער לעצטער
.און אַנטשיידענער שטרײַט
מיט דעם אינטערנאַציאָנאַל
!שטייט אויף איר אַרבעטסלײַט

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A couple of weeks late, but to commemorate May Day we present the Yiddish version of the song The International; words originally written in French by Eugene Pottier. The music by Pierre De Geyter was first performed in 1888. The “International” refers to the “First International”, an organization of workers that held a congress in 1864.

Judging by Martin Horowitz’s repertory as recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, he attended a Yiddish folkshul, probably a Workmen’s Circle socialist school where he learned many of his songs including this one.

Horowitz sings the International almost exactly as it appears in the collection Yidishe folks-lider, by Moshe Beregovski and Itzik Feffer. (Kiev, 1938, p. 3 – 5 and in Albert Biter’s collection Zing-a-lid: 60 arbeter un folks lider, (NY 1940, p. 5). Scans of both, words and music, are attached.

 A different version of The International by the poet H. Leivick appears in 1938-39, in the Workmen Circle songbook Lomir zingen appeared, edited by Mikhl Gelbart. Michael Alpert sings another version as translated by S. Ansky on the CD The Upword Flight: The musical world of S. Ansky.

Horowitz sings only the first third of the song and that is how it was mainly sung in Yiddish. The German Yiddish singer Karsten Troyke recorded the entire Yiddish version of the International as it appeared in Beregovski/Feffer: 

Below are versions published in Albert Biter’s collection Zing-a-lid: 60 arbeter un folks lider (NY, 1940) and Moshe Beregovski and Itzik Feffer’s Yidishe folks-lider (Kiev, 1938):

“Kinder kumt der friling ruft” Performed by Harry Mervis

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinder kumt der friling ruft / Children come, Spring calls
Sung by Harry Mervis, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979. From the Jewish Museum of Maryland collection.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman and Peter Rushefsky

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Kinder kumt as sung by Harry Mervis. 

Kinder kumt, der friling ruft
Blo der himl, klor di luft.
Shmekn zis di frishe blumen
un di taykhlekh freylekh brumen.
Leyft [loyft] in frayen feld.

Children come, Spring calls.
Blue the sky, clear the air.
Smell the fresh flowers
and the rivers gaily roar.

Hert, di feygelekh zingen,
flien heykh [hoykh] un klingen,
Helft zey, kinderlekh, shpringen.
Leyft in frayen feld. 

Listen to the birds sing,
flying high and resound.
Help them, children, to jump.
Run in the open field.

Kinder yetst iz ayer tsayt,
S’iz sheyn bald nor gor nit vayt.  
Er makht gel di grine bleter
Er makht di zise bleter,  
azoy on a sof.          

Children now is your time.
It is soon not far. 
He makes the green leaves yellow. 
He makes the sweet leaves.
Thus without end.   

Kinder aylt zikh unter,
Zayt zikh freylekh, munter.
Vayl der langer vinter
varft af alemen a shlof.

Children hurry yourselves.
Be happy and brave
because the long winter
throws on everyone a slumber.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

The lyrics to the song are by Mordkhe Rivesman (1868 – 1924), the same author of such songs as “Haynt is Purim Brider” and “Khanike Oy Khanike”.  the melody is almost always referred to as “a folk melody”. The first printing of the song that I have found is in Z. Kisselgof’s  collectin Lider-zamlbukh far der yidisher shul un familye, 1912There it is called “Kinder kumt der friling ruft”. It was also called “Likhik iz Gots velt”. Yiddish music archivist Robert Freedman remembers singing this song in his Chaim Nakhman Bialik Folk Shul and from memoirs it is clear that the song was also popular in Zionist circles in Eastern Europe. 

Recently singer, composer and choir director Polina Shepherd has revived the song. She newly arranged and recorded the song with her London Yiddish Choir and Chutzpah choir. Here is a link to that performance.

Shepherd also printed the music and original words at this link.

The song was translated into Hebrew by the Israeli Yiddish scholar Dov Sadan and can be found at this link in the website Zemereshet. זמרשת

The original lyrics by Rivesman in Yiddish has been scanned form  Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912 and are attached below.

We know of one recording of the song on the album Ilamay Handel Sings Portraits of Jewish Live in Song.

COMMENTARY ON THE MUSIC BY PETE RUSHEFSKY

The song uses a variant of a Hasidic-flavored melody recorded by Belf’s Romanian Ensemble for the Syrena record label as “Nakhes fun Kinder”. The melody was also recorded as part of a suite by the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia-based Lepiyansky Family of tsimbl (dulcimer) players and released on the Soviet MusTrust label.

Let’s take a closer look at the Belf version, which presents this beautiful melody in its fully-rendered form. The instrumental version of the piece is best known for its syncopated melodic gesture beginning with a rest on the first beat (a rhythmic device seen in many Hasidic nigunim):

However, the song version from Rivesman simplifies the melody, substituting four quarter notes for the first measure.

Composed in the freygish/Ahava Raba scale, the first section sets up the mode by emphasizing the first and then third degrees, repeating the phrases to create a sense of gravity. The second section switches to a call-and-response form to expand the melodic range to the fourth and fifth degrees, and hints at what will come in the final section with a quick reach up to the octave. Finally the third section lifts the melody to its climax (known in Arabic music as the “awj”) with three beats on the octave, initiating a lovely four-part walk down the freygish scale that continues into the mode’s subtonic range before resolving back up to the tonic.

There is an interesting difference between the Mervis version and the better-known version that Shepherd’s choir performs. The second section of Mervis’s version of “Kinder kumt” (starting with “Hert, di feygelekh zingen”) is reminiscent of the second section of the Belf “Nakhes fun Kinder”. In contrast, the second section of Shepherd jumps immediately up the octave like the third section of Belf. Perhaps Mervis (or whomever he learned his version from) was aware of the full melody ala Belf, and chose to sing it this way. Or possibly the variant is a result of confusion between the two melodies.

As I was contributing to this post, the wonderful Yiddish singer Eleonore Weill happened to be over giving my son Gabriel his weekly piano lesson. She graciously agreed to record herself performing the song on my iPhone (recorded April 6, 2021 in Brooklyn):

Lyrics by Rivesman published in Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912:

“Shikhelekh” Performed by Gertrude Singer and Manya Bender

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2021 by yiddishsong

“שיכעלעך/Shikhelekh/Shoes” – An early American Yiddish theater song that crossed the Atlantic and came back. First version sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979 from the archive of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Second version sung by Manya Bender, recorded by Ruth Rubin 1950, NYC, found at the Ruth Rubin Archive, YIVO.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Shikhelekh” a song about a boy in an immigrant family desperate to get a new pair of shoes, is interesting because there are two versions: one with a sad ending and one with a happy ending.

The older version, 5 verses long, with the sadder ending was first printed in the 1897 compilation Di yidishe bine, ed. J. KatzenelenbogenNY. (A scan is attached). In this version the boy complains he cannot go to school barefoot and asks his father to buy a pair of shoes in the store next to his school. The song concludes with the father, “powerless”, crying together with the boy. This version was reprinted with the title “Papa mit dem shikhele” no date, in American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015. (scan attached). We have not yet found recordings of this older version.

The newer version ( approx. 1916) with a “happy ending” concludes with a verse that relates how that young barefoot boy is now a lawyer and the girl he is with, playing “fortepian”, is his bride. The final refrain is:

Nu, Papa do you remember how eight years ago,
when I cried and begged you to buy me a pair of shoes.
Now I am a lawyer, and will make you happy for all of your years.

The singer, Gertrude Singer (1900 – 1979), recounts how she sang it often on the ship coming to America from Warsaw. In the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO, Manye Bender who learned the song in Bessarabia  “on the way to America.” also sings the new version.  Click here for her performance, beginning with the line “In droysn iz fintster”. 

The transcription, translation and Yiddish of both versions follows below.

It is not clear who the composer is of the older “unhappy” version. The Mloteks point out in their Forverts newspaper column that in the collection “Di yidishe bine” it is placed right after Morris Rosenfeld poems but it does not appear in his collected works. In the column on June 20, 1976, the music as remembered by a reader is also printed.

The later-adapted revision with the happy ending was the work of the singer Josef/Joseph Feldman around 1916. On a song sheet for “Shichalach” as sung by Moishe Oisher (no date), the words are credited to singer Joseph (Josef) Feldman (scans attached). But on page two, it is written “Version by Jos Feldman”, acknowledging his text as a revision of an earlier song. On a 78 rpm record (1916) Josef Feldman recorded it and one can hear it at the Florida Atlantic University “Recorded Sound Archives”

In 1938, Joseph Feldman published the Joseph Feldman’s Yiddish Theaterical Magaizine. The verses and music are published here.

The happy vs. sad ending of “Shikhelekh”  brings up an interesting point: could the generation after the original 1890s version no longer accept such a sad ending, and thus inspire the happy, nostalgic song conclusion of 1916?

Thanks this week to Jane Peppler, Steven Lasky and his Museum of the Yiddish Theater, the YIVO Sound Archives and the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University. 

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION and YIDDISH

Shikhelekh sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded in 1979.

1 ) In droysn is fintster, in droysn iz nas,
un du gey ikh borves, ikh ken nisht geyn in gas.
Papa, ikh beyt mir far dir azoy fil mul.
koyf mir a pur shikhelekh. Ikh ken nisht geyn in “skul.”
Oy papa, di zolst dir oysbeytn a git yur.
Koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.  
Oy, koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.

2) Der papa blaybt shteyn mit a troyern [troyerik] geveyn
biz zayne trern faln afn kind aleyn.
“Kind mayns, du veyst vi azey ikh hob dikh lib.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh vel ikh farpanen a kishn fun shtib.
Oy kind mayns, mir zoln shoyn nisht hobn mer keyn noyt.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh hob [iz nishto] ikh nishto keyn broyt.
Orem mayn kind iz nokh erger vi der toyt.”

3) In di tsayt flit avek un es iz shoyn akht yur
Kik on [?] dem boychik, er vert shoyn a “loyer.”
Dort zitst a meydele vos zi shpilt pian.
Me zugt az dos meydele vet dem loyer’s kale zayn.
Nu, papa, gedenkstu tsurik mit akht yur
ven ikh hob dikh gebeytn far shikhelekh a pur.
Yetst bin ikh loyer un ikh makh dikh glikekh 
af ale dayne yor.

1) Outside it’s dark; outside it’s wet,
and I am walking barefoot; I can’t go in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times
to buy me a pair of shoes. I can’t go to school.
Oy papa, may you succeed in praying for a good year.
Buy me, papa, a pair of shoes
Oy, buy me, dear papa, a pair of shoes

2) Papa remains standing with a sad weeping,
until his tears drop on his child.
“My child, you know how much I love you:
because of your shoes, there is no bread.
To be poor is worse than death.”

3)  Time flies and it’s eight years later.
Look at the boy [?] – he is soon to be a  lawyer.
There sits a girl who plays grand piano.
They say that she will be the lawyer’s bride.
So, papa, remember eight years ago
when I begged you for a pair of shoes?
Now I am a lawyer and I will make you happy
all of your years.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון גערטרוד זינגער
רעקאָרדירט פֿון גערטרוד ניצבערג
.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן אין נאַס

.און דאָ גיי איך באָרוועס, איך קען נישט גיין אין גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט מיר פֿאַר דיר אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
.קויף מיר אַ פּאָר שיכעלעך. איך קען נישט קיין אין סקול
.אוי, פּאַפּאַ, דו זאָלסט דיר אויסבעטן אַ גוט יאָר
.קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“.אוי, קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

דער פּאַפּאַ בלײַבט שטיין מיט אַ טרויעריק געוויין
.ביז זײַנע טרערן פֿאַלֹן אויפֿן קינד אַליין
.קינד מײַנס, דו ווייסט ווי אַזוי איך האָב דיך ליב”
.צוליב דײַנע שיכעלעך, וועל איך פֿאַרפּאַנען אַ קישן פֿון שטוב
.אוי, קינד מײַנס, מיר זאָלן שוין נישט האָבן מער קיין נויט
.צוליב דײַנע שיך איז נישטאָ קיין ברויט
“.אָרעם, מײַן קינד, איז נאָך ערגער ווי דער טויט
און די צײַט פֿליט אַוועק און עס איז שוין אַכט יאָר

.קוק אָן דעם בויטשיק; ער ווערט שוין אַ לויער
.דאָרטן זיצט אַ מיידעלע, וואָס זי שפּילט פּיאַן.
.מע זאָגט, אַז דאָס מיידעלע, וועט דעם לויערס כּלה זײַן
,נו, פּאַפּאַ, געדענקסטו צוריק מיט אַכט יאָר”
?ווען איך האָב דיך געבעטן פֿאַר שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
יעצט בין איך איצט לויער און איך מאַך דיך גליקלעך 
.אויף אַלֹע דײַנע יאָר.

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION AND YIDDISH

Shikhelekh by Manya Bender

1) In droysn iz fintster, in droysn iz nas.
“ikh hob nit kayn shikhelekh tsu geyn oyf der gas.
Papa, ikh bet dir, azoy fil mol.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.”

2) S’iz avek gegangen a lange tsayt,
Dos kind iz gevorn a groyser advokat.
Er zitst mit zayn meydl, zey shpiln beyde pian.
di meydl zogt, zi vil zayn kale zayn.
“Papa, gedenkstu mit azoy fil yor tsurik.
Ikh hob dir gebeytn shikhelekh a por?
Un itst makh ikh dir gilklekh af ale dayne yor.” 

TRANSLATION of BENDER

1) Outside it’s dark, outside it’s wet
“I don’t have a shoes to go out in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times  
Buy me, buy me a pair of shoes.”

2)  A long time had passed.
The child became a big-time lawyer.
He sits with his girlfriend; they both are playing piano.
The girl says she wants to be his bride.
Papa, do you remember many years ago?
I asked you to get me a pair of shoes.
And now I will make you happy the rest of your days.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון מאַניע בענדער
פֿון רות רובין-אַרכיוו, ייִוואָ

.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן איז נאַס”
.איך האָב ניט קיין שיכעלעך צו גיין אויף דער גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט דיך, אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
“.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

.ס’איז אַוועק געגאַנגען אַ לאַנגע צײַט
.דאָס קינד איז געוואָרן אַ גרויסער אַדוואָקאַט
.ער זיצט מיט זײַן מיידל, זיי שפּילן ביידע פּיִאַן
.די מיידל זאָגט זי וויל זײַן כּלה זײַן
פּאַפּאַ, געדענסטו מיט אַזוי פֿיל יאָר צוריק”
?איך האָב דיר געבעטן שיִכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“און איצט מאַך איך דיר גליקלעך אויף אַלע דײַנע יאָר

Di yidishe bine, ed. J. Katzenelenbogen, NY (1897):

American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015:

“Erev-yon-kiper far der nakht”: A Yiddish Murder Ballad Performed by Yetta Seidman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2020 by yiddishsong

Erev-yon-kiper far der nakht / The Eve of Yom Kippur 
A Yiddish murder ballad sung by Yetta Seidman, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg for the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1979.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Jews praying in the synagogue on Yom-kippur, painting by Maurycy Gottlieb

This is another variant of this once popular 19th century Yiddish murder ballad about a rejected lover shooting his beloved. We have previously posted a version “Erev yonkiper nokh halbn tog” sung by Yankov Goldman, from the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Archive. 

Seidman’s melody is basically the same, as is the plot, but the words differ in interesting ways. In all the versions the boyfriend takes out a revolver and shoots her, but it is unusual for the ballad to end at that point in the story as it does here. There is usually a different concluding verse or two. Also in this version we learn the name of the woman, Dvoyre, (the same name as in Goldman’s version) but not the name of the shooter.

This ballad often begins with the line “Tsvelef a zeyger shpet bay nakht” and has no connection to Yom Kippur. We will post additional versions of this ballad in the future.

Seidman said that she learned this song from her mother in Russia. Her Yiddish has features of both southern and northern Yiddish dialects.  She immigrated to the United States in 1910.  

TRANLITERATION/TRANSLATION

Erev-yon-kiper far der nakht,
ven ale mentshn tien esn geyn,
ven ale mentshn tien esn geyn.
Geyt a fraylen fin der arbet
in der gelibter antkegn ir. 

The eve of yom-kippur, before nightfall
when all the people are going to eat.
when all the people are going to eat.
Walks a young woman from work
and her lover meets her from the other direction.

Vi er hot ir derzeyn
azoy iz der o geblibn shteyn.
“Atsind, atsind mayn tayer zis leybn.
Di zolst mir zugn ye tsi neyn.”

As soon as he saw her
he stopped.
“Now, now my dear love
you must tell me yes or no”

“Ye tsi neyn vel ikh dir zugn
Az mayne eltern shtern mir.
Mayne eltern shtern mir.
Mayne eltern, oy, tien mir shtern,
az ikh zol far dir kayn kale nit vern.”

“Yes or no, I will tell you:
My parents prevent me.
My parents prevent me.
O, my parents prevent me
from becoming your bride.”

Vi er hot dus derhert
azoy hot es im fardrosn. 
Aroysgenemen hot er ayn revolver
un er hot Dvoyrelen geshosn. 

As soon as he heard this, 
he was peeved. 
He took out his revolver
and shot Dvoyrele.

Vi er hot ir geshosn,
azoy hot er zikh dershrokn.
Oysgedreyt hot er deym revolver
un hot zikh aleyn geshosn.

Right after he shot her
he became frightened.
He turned the revolver around
and shot himself.

TRANSCRIPTION

ערבֿ־יום־כּיפּור פֿאַר דער נאַכט
.ווען אַלע מענטשן טוען עסן גיין
.ווען אַלע מענטשן טוען עסן גיין
גייט אַ פֿרײַלין פֿון דער אַרבעט
.און דער געליבטער אַנטקעגן איר

,ווי ער האָט איר דעזען
.אַזוי איז דער אָ געבליבן שטיין
,אַצינד, אַצינד מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן„
“דו זאָלסט מיר זאָגן יאָ צי ניין

,יאָ צי ניין וועל איך דיר זאָגן„
.אַז מײַנע עלטערן שטערן מיר
.מײַנע עלטערן שטערן מיר
,מײַנע עטלערן טוען מיר שטערן
“.אַז איך זאָל פֿאַר דיר קיין כּלה ניט ווערן

,ווי ער האָט דאָס דערהערט
.אַזוי האָט עס אים פֿאַרדראָסן
אַרויסגענעמען האָט ער אײַן [אַ] רעוואָלווער 
.און האָט דבֿורהלען געשאָסן

ווי ער האָט איר געשאָסן
.אַזוי האָט ער זיך דערשראָקן
אויסגעדרייט האָט ער דעם רעוואָלווער
.און האָט זיך אַליין געשאָסן

Eliakum Zunser’s “Der aristokrat” Performed by Nathan Singer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2020 by yiddishsong

Eliakum Zunser’s “Der aristokrat”, Sung by Nathan Singer
Recorded in 1948.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Screenshot 2020-07-17 at 11.48.59 AM

Eliakum Zunser by Jacob Epstein, 1902

“Der aristokrat” was one of the most popular songs by the Vilna badkhn and composer Eliakum Zunser (1836-1913). It is the fifth Zunser song that we have posted on the blog.

The song is taken from a recording of the Singer and Nitzberg families which was done on a wire recorder in 1948 probably in Baltimore. Gertrude Singer Nitzberg transferred the recordings to tape in the 1970s and donated them to the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Nathan Singer sings Zunser’s song in a “Litvish” dialect (“leyb” instead of “loyb”, “siml” instead of “shiml” for example). His version is remarkably close to Zunser’s printed orginal. The full text is 224 lines and was first printed in Eliakum Zunser’s collection  Tsen yidishe folkslider, Vilna, 1888. Singer sings only one verse – 16 lines.

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Zunser’s 1888 collection Tsen yidishe folkslider

There are two recordings of this song and both are by professional singers, so this home performance with a simplified melody contrasts with theirs, and most likely reflects how it was sung among the folk. One recording is on a Folkways album Selected Songs of Eliakum Zunser featuring the singer Nathaniel A. Entin. The other recording is found on a 78 rpm record by Marcus Eisenberg called “Der aristokrat”, 1919.

The complete poem “Der aristokrat” tells of the trials and tribulations of a wealthy man who leaves the Jewish world to live among Christians but he is not wanted there. He ends up a happy man working the land in Petah-Tikvah, Palestine.

We are attaching the complete Yiddish text from volume one of The Works of Elyokum Zunser: A Critical Edition by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, 1964 and the music from volume two of the same work.

TRANSCRIPTION and TRANSLATION OF NATHAN SINGER’S VERSION OF “DER ARISTOKRAT”

Fil dank ikh un leyb Gotes nomen,
er hot mir di eygn eyfgemakht.
Hot geshikt eyf mayn shtetl pogromen
Dos hot mir fun kholem ervakht…

Many thanks and praises of God’s name,
for he had opened my eyes.
He sent pogroms to attack my town
which woke me up from my dream. 

Ikh hob opgelebt a lebn in tuml,
fardorbn mayn kerper mayn zel.
Af mayn hartsn iz ongevaksn siml [shiml]
un mayn yidishkayt iz avek in der velt.

I have a life of unrest.
Ruined my body and soul.
Mold was growing on my heart
and my Jewishness got lost. 

Geveynt haynt mit fremde natsyonen,
mayne brider ferhast un ferakht;
Am ende hot men mir nit gevolt konen,
in di eygn var ikh oysgelakht!

I live today among foreign nations,
my brothers hated and despised.
Finally, no one wanted to know me,
I was mocked to my eyes. 

Fardorbn mayn vayb mayne kinder,
kayn ruikn lebn gehat,
kegn Got, kegn laytn a zinder –
kh’ob gevelt zayn an “aristokrat”. 

Ruined my wife and children,
no peaceful life have I had.
Against God, against man I have sinned.
I wanted to be an aristocrat.

“Der Aristokrat” in The Works of Elyokum Zunser: A Critical Edition by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, 1964 (music from Volume 2, text from Volume 1):

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“Tort un vayn” Performed by Tillie Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2020 by yiddishsong

Tort un vayn / Cake and wine
A Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” sung by Tillie Fishman, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg , Baltimore, 1979

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s song “Pie in the Sky” originally called “The Preacher and the Slave”. Here is Cisco Houston’s version of the Joe Hill song.

Joe_hill002

Joe Hill

Joe Hill (1879 – 1915) was a labor activist , songwriter and member of the IWW – Industrial Workers of the World. He was executed for the murder of a grocer and his son in Utah, despite international protests and appeals for clemency. His memory has been preserved in the song “Joe Hill” which was recorded by Paul Robeson, Joan Baez, among others. 

Hill’s song was itself a parody of the Christian hymn “Sweet Bye and Bye” written in 1868. Here is country singer, Loretta Lynn with her version of the original hymn.

This Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” appeared in the songbook Mit gezang tsum kamf, songs composed and arranged by Jacob Schaeffer, 1932. Fishman sings two verses, but the songbook has five.  It does not say who translated or adapted the songs. We are attaching the music, the Yiddish text from that book, and including below a transcription of the longer version found in Schaeffer’s book. In Schaeffer’s collection the song is called “Der prister un der nar” (“The Priest and the Fool”). 

This recording is found in the Gertrude Nitzberg Collection at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. 

Did you know that Ethel Raim, Yiddish singer and teacher, founder and artistic director emeritus of CTMD,  composed a melody to “Joe Hill’s Last Will”? You can find it in the magazine “Sing Out!”, volume 11, #3, p. 29.

Special thanks with help for this week’s post to Emily Socolov.

TRANSLITERATION (Tillie Fishman’s version)

“Prist” un “preacher” haltn droshes umetum.
Vus me zugt undz, heyst men indz zayn frum.
Es mont der galakh un es shtroft der rov.
Zol shoyn nemen tsi di tsores a sof. 

Refrain

Me redt undz ayn es vet zayn. Es vet zayn.
In gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn. Broyt un vayn.
Un dervayl shteyt in “line”. Es vet zayn
in gan-eyden tort un vayn; tort un vayn!

Fun dem eltstn biz dem klenstn kind,
vus me zogt im, zogt men as s’iz zind.
Es shtruft der galakh un es munt der rov.
Zol shoyn nemen tsu di tsores a sof.

Refrain

Me redt undz ayn es vet zayn. Es vet zayn
In gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn. Broyt un vayn.
Un dervayl shteyt in “line”. Es vet zayn
in gan-eyden tort un vayn; tort un vayn!

TRANSLATION

Priest and preacher give speeches everywhere.
They are always saying that we should be religious.
The priest demands, the rabbi punishes.
May an end to our troubles come soon. 

Refrain

They assure us that there will be,
in heaven fresh bread and wine. Bread and wine.
In the meantime get in line. There will be
in heaven cake and wine. Cake and wine. 

From the oldest to the smallest child,
They are told that everything is a sin.
The priest punishes and the rabbi demands.
May an end to our troubles come soon. 

Refrain

They assure us that there will be, there will be,
in heaven fresh bread and wine. Bread and wine.
In the meantime get in line. There will be
in heaven cake and wine. Cake and wine. 

TRANSLITERATION OF SCHAEFFER VERSION

Pristers haltn droshes umetum
In Gots nomen heyst men undz zayn frum.
Laydn mir hunger, laydn mir noyt.
Viln mir esn, monen mir broyt.

Refrain:

Redt men undz ayn es vet zayn 
in gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn
un dervayl shteyt in “layn”,
Es vet zayn in gan-eydn tort un vayn.

Eyder mir derzen a por sent
rayst men es oys fun undzere hent.
Prist un pritsher, yeder shvindler nemt
biz men tut undz oys dos letste hemd.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn… 

Shafn far raykhe un nit far zikh.
Shteyt men in “layn” far der tir bay der kikh.
Fresn di raykhe, s’platst zey der boykh.
Volt men darlangt khotsh a bisl undz oykh.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn…

Fun dem grestn biz dem klentstn kind
vos mir tuen af der erd iz zind.
Shtroft der galakh un es mont der rov.
un beshas mir tsoln undzer shtrof.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn…

tort1tort2

Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” in the songbook Mit gezang tsum kamf, songs composed and arranged by Jacob Schaeffer, 1932

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“Nodele” Performed by Martin Horowitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2020 by yiddishsong

Nodele / Little Needle
Words: Sara Barkan, music: H. Wolowitz. Sung by Martin Horowitz, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Horowitz

Martin Horowitz

The singer Martin Horowitz of Baltimore passed away on Feb, 12, 2020. The obituary in the Baltimore Jewish Times (Mar. 25) writes that “He loved music, dancing, and was an energetic and graceful performer. He played guitar, accompanying himself on folk and Yiddish songs.”

This is another song from the Nitzberg Collection at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. This song, words and music, is included in the collection Zing mit mir published by Workmen’s Circle, NY, 1945 (third printing), edited by Mikhl Gelbart. We have attached the pages, Yiddish words and music.

The text was written by Sarah Barkan (also known as Barkan-Silverman), a radical Yiddish poet who was very much part of the Yiddish communist literary world before the Second World War. She contributed many poems to the leftist Yiddish schools in America, and “Nodele” is one of them. It is published in her book Gutfriling (NYC,1936) where it is titled “Tsu a nodl”.

שרה_ברקן_פורטרט

Sarah Barkan

Barkan was born in Dvinsk (Daugavipils), Latvia, in 1884 and immigrated to the US in 1907. She died in NY in 1957.

The composer Hersh Wolowitz was active in the 1920s and 1930’s. His best known song “A fidler” begins with the line “S’hot der tate fun yaridl”. He published two collections Tsen kinderlider (1929) and Lider tsum zingen (1936).

TRANSLITERATION

Nodl, nodl, nodele,
Shtekh durkh dem gevant.
A fodem in dayn eygele
Loz durkhgeyn mayn hant.

Refrain:

Fal nit, fal nit nodele,
fun mayn mider hant.
Mir tantsn dokh a nodltants,
Af zayd un af gevant.

Ven der tog vet shlofn geyn,
rustu in mayn lats.
Nodl, nodl nodele,
nodele mayn shats.

Refrain

TRANSLATION

Needle, needle, little needle,
poke through this cloth.
Let pass a thread in your little eye
through my hand.

Refrain:

Don’t fall, don’t fall little needle
from my weary hand.
We dance a needle dance,
on silk and on cloth.

When the day will go to sleep,
you rest in my lapel.
Needle, needle, little needle,
little needle my treasure.

Refrain

Wolowitznodele1nodele2

“In a fektori lebn a mashin” Performed by Mary Roten

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2020 by yiddishsong

In  a fektori lebn a mashin (Khane, hayret mit mir) / In a Factory, Near a Machine (Hannah, Marry Me)
Sung by Mary Roten  (1900 – 1993), recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg in 1979, Baltimore, Maryland

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Khane Hayrat mit mir” is a typical song from the Yiddish theater of the 1910s when Mary Roten learned it. She sings it in a “Litvish” dialect – “em” instead of “im”, “farfleygn” instead of “farfloygn”  “di land” instead of “dos land” etc.

I have not yet found the composer, author or possible play where it was performed but I would bet the melody is taken from a popular American tune of the time period. Does anyone recognize it?

RotenPhotoPhotograph from the Jewish Museum of Maryland

The singer Mary Roten was born in 1900 and died in 1993. In the above photograph she is teaching her nursery class at the Baltimore Jewish Educational Alliance, circa 1930. 

The recording of this song was done by Gertrude Nitzberg who donated the recording to the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, now part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Nitzberg was a teacher and collector of Yiddish folksongs, stories and life history. For more on Gertrude Nitzberg read her obituary here.

Nitzberg was 81 years old when she died in 2000.  In the Museum description of the collection, it mentions 20 tapes of field-recordings of singers. 

Note on the words to “Khane, heyrat mit mir”:
“Mashin” means sewing machine.
“COD” means Cash on Delivery
“Operator” = sewing machine operator

TRANSLITERATION

In a fektori lebn a mashin,
zitst a yunger-man,
in der land iz er grin.
Lebn em zitst a yunge meydele,
shtendik zi neyt.
Un zi trakht vegn dem operaterl
vos zingt ir dos lid:

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

Yorn hobn farfleygn,
heyrat hobn zey.
Got hot zey geshonken
mit kinderlekh tsvey.
Yetst haltn zey a “biznes” [ business],
a kleyn “groseri.”  [grocery]
un farkeyfn tsu ale kustomers
by COD. 

Fraytik tsu nakht
zitsndik baym tish,
iber di lange lokshn,
un iber di gefilte fish,
zogt zi tsu em:
“Tsi gedenkstu di tsayt ven
du host gezungen dos lid?”.

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

TRANSLATION

In a factory, near a machine,
sits a young man,
in this land he is “green”.
Next to him sits a girl
who always is sewing.
And she thinks about the operator
who sings her this song:

Refrain:

Khane, marry me.
I will do everything for you.
We will live wonderfully, a wonder.
I will work hard all day and night.
For my pious Khanele. 

Years flew by;
they were married.
God gave them a gift
of two children.
Now they have a business,
a little grocery store.
And all the customers pay
COD [cash on delivery]

Friday night, sitting at the table,
with the long noodles and with gefilte fish,
she says to him:
“Do you remember when
you sang me this song?”

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

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