Archive for Khane Mlotek

“Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner / I am a Small Gypsy (Rom) Lad
Pre-war version from Chernovitz, Romania.
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The more popular song version of this poem by Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) was composed by Hertz Rubin (1911 – 1958) and has been recorded by at least thirteen artists. According to Chana and Yosl Mlotek in Songs of Generations, the singer Masha Benya received that version from Manger’s widow Genia Manger after the second world war in NY.

MangerItzik Manger in his Chernovitz days, 1920s

But this earlier version has a different melody, and slightly different words without the “Ekh du fidele du mayn” refrain. BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, which was Romania between the world wars and is now in the Ukraine.

Manger’s lyrics carry a number of commonly-held negative stereotypes about Romany (Gypsy) culture. However, considering the time in which he was writing, through first-person narration, Manger creates a sympathetic window into the challenges faced by Roma including poverty, oppression, and a sense of otherness as a minority community. The ever-wandering Manger, no doubt, felt like a kindred spirit.

In the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO, Sore Kessler sings this Chernovitz version and explains she learned it from the Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir in Montreal. Shaffir was also from the Bukovina region (not Bessarabia as Kessler says in her spoken introduction), and a friend of BSG. Some of Kessler’s text differs and she sings a verse that BSG does not:

Shtendik zaynen mir af vegn,
mir af vegn.
Say bay nakht,
un say in regn.

Always are we travelling,
travelling [on the roads.]
Both at night
and in the rain.

Accordionist Mishka Zignaoff (who was a Yiddish-speaking Russian Rom musician based in New York) recorded the melody as Galitzianer khosid (Galician Hasid) in a medley with the famous Reb Dovidl’s nign.

I am posting this song to mark Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s 5th yortsayt (1920 – 2013) which falls on the second candle of khanike.

BeyleItzikTapes2Beyle and Itzik Gottesman looking over Yiddish field recordings, 1970s.

TRANSLITERATION

BSG Spoken: [Itzik Manger] iz geveyn maner a landsman, un hot geredt Yidish vi ekh. Vel ikh zingen in durem-yidish azoy vi er hot geredt. “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” un di lider vus ikh zing zenen a bisele, tsi mul, andersh vi ir zingt zey, val ikh ken zey nokh fun der heym.

1) Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner, gur a kleyner
ober vi ir zeyt a sheyner.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Ikh veys nisht vi ikh bin geboyrn, bin geboyrn.
Di mame hot mikh in steppe farloyrn
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

2) Dem tatn hot men oyfgehongen, oyfgehongen
Vayl er iz ganvenen gegangen
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Burves, hingerik un freylekh, ober freylekh
Fil ikh zikh vi a ben-meylekh.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

3) In mayn lidl kent ir hern, kent ir hern
Mayn tatns zifts, mayn mames trern.
Tra-La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

S’kost in gantsn nor a drayer, nor eyn drayer.
S’iz mayn veytik gurnisht tayer.
Trala-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

TRANSLATION

BSG Spoken: “[Itzik Manger] was from the same city as me and spoke Yiddish as I do. So I will sing in the southern Yiddish that he spoke.  “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” and the other songs that I will sing are a little different than the way you sing them because I learned them form home.”

I’m a small Gypsy lad, a very small Gypsy lad,
But as you see good-looking.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I don’t know where I was born, was born.
My mother lost me somewhere in the Steppes.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

They hanged my father, hanged my father
Because he went thieving.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Barefoot, hungry and merry, always merry.
I feel like a prince.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

In my song you can hear, can hear
My father’s sigh, my mother’s tears.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

It will only cost you three kopecks.
My suffering doesn’t cost much at all.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la
tsigaynerl 1

tsigaynerl 2

tsigaynerl3

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“Leyg ikh mir in bet arayn” Performed by Janie Respitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

There has been much written about the once popular Yiddish song לייג איך מיר אין בעט אַרײַן (Leyg ikh mir in bet arayn / I Lay Me Down in My Bed) and its transformations, but I cannot find one LP/CD recording of the “original” Yiddish song and so I’m glad to have Montreal Yiddish singer Janie Respitz’s version (video recorded in October of 2017).

The Yiddish text, transliteration, translation and music to this song appears in Chana and Joseph Mlotek’s collection Pearls of Yiddish Song (see below) and there it is identified as a poem by Joseph Rolnick / Rolnik (1879 – 1955) and music written by the Yiddish poet Bertha Kling (1886 – 1979).

A translation of Rolnik’s autobiography זכרונות (Zikhrones / Memories) from Yiddish by Gerald Marcus is available in English entitled With Rake in Hand: Memoirs of a Yiddish Poet, 2016. There he writes that that this poem, adapted from a folksong, became very popular after Kling composed music for it; but he was ashamed of how the poem, which he considered unimportant, had become a hit. He walked out of a room if they greeted his entrance by singing it.

About the transformations of this Yiddish song… The Hebrew-language website Zemereshet  זמרשת presents a popular Hebrew version הרכבת (Harekevet / The Train), as well as the children’s song בין הרים ובין סלעים  (Beyn horim uveyn slaim / Between Mountains and Rocks). Historian David Assaf’s blog עונג שבת Oyneg Shabes presents additional versions and a more detailed history of the story of the song (in Hebrew). 

The Rolnik poem has inspired two new musical compositions. The first is by the Pulitzer prize and Grammy winning modernist minimalist composer David Lang (“Bang on a Can”) entitled I Lie.

The second has been composed by UK-based Yiddish singer Polina Shepherd, and is here sung by Yana Ovrutskay:

Shepherd currently performs this song with the group “Sklamberg and the Shepherds” (also featuring Lorin Sklamberg of The Klezmatics and clarinetist Merlin Shepherd). Both Shepherd’s and Lang’s compositions  include the fourth verse of the original poem which is included in the Mlotek booklet but not sung in the folklorized versions.

From Chana and Joseph Mlotek’s Pearls of Yiddish Song:

Rolnick1Rolnick2

 

“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

“In kheyder keseyder” performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the third song we have posted by Clara Crasner, b. 1902 in Shargorod (a town near Vinnitsia, Ukraine). As she says after she sings the song, she learned this song in Romania approx. 1919-1920, where she waited for two years to get papers to come to America. Freedman recorded the song again, and this time she says that she learned it from a 5 year old boy.

Robert Freedman (Crasner’s son-in-law) recorded the song in 1972 and sent it to Chana and Yosl Mlotek for their Yiddish Forward newspaper column Leyner dermonen zikh lider – Readers Remember Songs. Below is a copy of the column with the Mlotek’s response, where they identify a number of published variants (click the image to enlarge):

mlotek crasner kheyder

With its uneven verse lines and “un-Jewish” melody, In kheyder keseyder sounds as if it could be a newer Yiddish theater song of the time.

Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn.
Hob ikh zikh gebudn in taykh.
Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn
hob ikh zikh gebudn a sakh.

When I was a small boy,
I bathed in the river [or lake].
When I was a small boy
I often bathed.

Gebudn, geplyusket, gelofn aheym
Hot mir der rebbe derzeyn.
Un hot mikh mekhabed geveyn.

I bathed, splashed and ran home,
but the rebbe spotted me.
And “honored” me [meant ironically – beat, punished]

Freyg ikh im farvus?
Farvus kimt mir dus?
Entfert er mir dus:

So I ask him why?
Why do I deserve this?
And this is how he answers me:

In kheyder keseyder,
a yingele darf zitsn dort.
In kheyder keseyder,
Sha! Un redt nisht keyn vort.

Always in kheyder [traditional elementary religious school]
is where a boy should sit.
Always in kheyder
Quiet! And don’t say a word.

Ven di volst in kheyder gegangen,
volsti di toyre derlangen.
Volsti geveyzn a yid, a yid.
Volt dir geveyzn gants git, gant git.

If you were to attend kheyder,
you could attain the Torah.
Then you would be a Jew, a Jew
And you would feel real good, real good.

In kheyder keseyder….

In kheyder keseyder

“Lid fun der frantzeyzisher revolutsye” Performed by Nitsa Rantz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song by Nitsa Rantz was recorded at the same concert as Rantz’s song Mayn shifl that we had earlier posted in in our blog, at the club Tonic on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2009. Rantz is accompanied by Jeff Warschauer on guitar.

Nitsa Rantz in Paris, Late 1940s

In their column “Lider demonen zikh lider” [Readers remember songs] in the Yiddish Forward newspaper, Feb. 7th 1992, page 15. Chana and Joseph Mlotek printed the words of Nitsa Rantz’s version of this song.

The columnists note that Rantz called the song “Viglid fun der frantzeyzisher revolutsye” [Lullaby of the French Revolution], and that they had found a printed version in a Workmen’s Circle songbook, 1934.

A version was sung during the Holocaust in the Vilna ghetto and was printed in Shmerke Katcherginski’s collection “Lider fun getos un lagern”, 1948. The singer Rokhl Relis called it “Dos lid fun umbakantn partisan”. Instead of the guillotine, the father is killed in a gas chamber.

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman sings a similar version to Rantz’s, and there is enough difference in the text to make it worthwhile to post it on the Yiddish Song of the blog at some point. A beautiful version is found in the Stonehill collection, sung by an as yet unidentified man, (Reel 9).

Shlof shoyn kind mayns vider ruik ayn.
Shtil es flit shoyn di levone-shayn.
Fun der vaytns finklen shtern,
Kuk nisht kind af mayne trern.
Shlof shoyn kind mayns vider ruik ayn.

Sleep my child once more quietly.
Quietly the moonlight flies .
From the distance stars are twinkling.
Child do not look at my tears.
Sleep my child once more quietly.

Es vet der tate mer nisht kumen.
Im hot men fun undz genumen.
Iber di gasn im geshlept,
af dem eshafod gekept.
Blaybn mir dokh eynzam kind aleyn.

Your father will no longer come.
They took him away from us.
They dragged him through the streets,
on the guillotine they cut his head.
So we remain lonely, my child.

Reder geyen in fabrikn,
menstshn geyen underdrikn.
Dort ahin iz er gegangen,
vu es raysn zikh di klangen.
Vu di shteyner zenen royt baflekt.

Wheels turn in the factory,
the people go oppressed.
There is where he went,
where the noises wildly sound,
where the stones are stained red.

Unter der fon hoykh gehoybn,
hot er mit a tifn gloybn,
az er muz bafrayen shklafen,
firn zey tsu a naym hafn,
Tsu a groyser, sheyner, nayer velt.

Under the flag raised high,
with a firm belief
that he must free the slaves,
take them to a new harbor,
to a great, beautiful new world.

“Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

„Shtey shoyn of tokhter mayn getraye‟ (“Wake Up My Faithful Daughter”) is the only Yiddish song I know that mentions coffee, and though I drink 3 double espressos daily, I thought I would post this song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) for a different reason: a recent interesting article on family violence and Yiddish song written by Adrienne Cooper and Sarah Gordon. Originally published in Lilith magazine, and republished on-line on the Arty Semite blog of the Forward newspaper (in four parts).

In the first song example given in that essay – „A gutn ovnt Brayne‟, the first stanza ends with „zint ikh hob dem merder derkent‟ („Since I‘ve known this murderer‟). As you can also see in the song „Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye‟, merder/murderer is apparently another way to say „wife beater‟ in Yiddish.

As for „Shtey shoyn of‟ – LSW sings the first verse beautifully, somehow getting off track in the second verse – it‘s a line too short, and the melody changes – and then again getting back on track in the third verse and ending the powerful and sad song with her emotional style.

Musically, listen to the way she ornaments so subtly with „oy‟. Textually – in three short verses with vivid imagery we have a complete, melancholy short story in the classic mother-daughter dialogue form, so common in Yiddish folksong.

I think it‘s particularly touching that the mother has the final word. Perhaps other singers or versions perform additional verses in which the daughter responds; I have not found any, and this version certainly fits into LSW‘s gloomy view of the woman‘s world; a woman recently married, no less. This recording of LSW was made by Leybl Kahn in New York City in 1954.

Oy shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye
dayne lipelekh zenen dir farshmakht.
Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye
dayn kave zi shteyt shoyn fartik gemakht.
Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye
Dayn kave, zi shteyt dir fartik gemakht.

O wake up my faithful daughter,
Your lips are so pale; [literally – languished, fading]
Wake up my faith daughter,
your coffee is waiting for you, already made.

Oy mame, oy miter, vos toyg mir mayn leybn af der velt?
Az dem vos ikh hob lib ken ikh nit nemen,
mit vemen vel ikh opfirn mayn velt?
Az dem vos ikh hob lib ken ikh nit nemen,
mit vemen vel ikh opfirn mayn velt?

O mama, o mother, what good is my life in the world?
If I cannot take the one I love
with whom shall I spend my life? [literally – conduct my world]

Oy, dayne bekelekh hobn geblit vi di royte epelekh
far ayn glik hob ikh mir dus forgeshtelt.
haynt, az di bist arayn tsu dem merder in di hent aran.
af eybik hot er farimert dir dayn velt.
di bist arayn tsu dem merder in di hent arayn.
oy, af eybik hot er farimert dir di velt.

O your cheeks were blooming like the red apples,
I imagined this meant happiness.
Now, that you have fallen into that murderer‘s hands,
he has forever saddened your world.


“Brider, Zog” by Sholem Berenshteyn

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Brider, zog (Brother, Say) is by the 19th century Yiddish poet Sholem Berenshteyn. No one seems to be sure of his life dates (and not even his first name – some say Shmuel) but he lived in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, and died before 1880. In 1869 he published his collection Magazin fun yidishe lider far dem yidishn folk in Zhitomir, which was reprinted several times.

The best source for his biography is Zalmen Reisin‘s Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, volume 1. Reisin considers him one of the first Yiddish folkpoets and even the poet Mikhl Gordon („Maskhe‟, „Di bord‟) considered him a better poet than himself. As Reisin points out, his work sometimes touches upon typical maskilic themes (anti-Hasidic, Russian patriotism) but he mostly stays clear of them, and his most popular poems became songs with traditional themes such as Brider zog and Sholem-Aleykhem which the Bessarabian folksinger Arkady Gendler sings on his recording, released in 2001, Mayn shtetele Soroke, produced by Jeanette Lewicki.

The most extensive discusssion of the song Brider, zog is in Joseph and Chana Mlotek‘s book Perl fun der yidisher poezye which was recently translated into English by Barnett Zumoff as Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, Ktav Publishing. The song was originally titled Zmires has 15 verses; what was sung were the first four verses.

I have attached the Yiddish words and music in the version found in Z. Kisselhof‘s Lider zamlung far der yidisher shul un familye, St. Petersburg 1911 which is very close to the version sung here.

The unidentified singer is clearly more of a „pro‟ than we are used to hearing in the songs posted on this blog. But listening to her interpretation of khasidic song does raise interesting questions about the “art song” interpretation of khasidic style. The late, great Masha Benya, among others, comes to mind in this regard. This singer turns a song, which melodically could be quite boring, into an interesting performance.

I know this song from my mother, Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, who learned it from her mother, Lifshe Schaecther Widman, and the words as they are sung here are almost exactly the same (we sing „Ver vet lakhn, un khoyzek makhn…‟).

Thanks again to Lorin Sklamberg, sound archivist at YIVO, who allowed us to post another song from the YIVO Stonehill collection.

A folkslid…khsidish.
A folksong, khasidic.

Brider zog, vi heyst der tog,
ven mir ale zenen freylekh?
Der yidele, der kleyner, der kusherer, der sheyner
Iz dokh dan a meylekh.

Tell me brother what is the day called
when we are all joyous?
The Jew, the little one, the kosher one, the beautiful,
Then feels himself like a king.

Shabes aleyn, kimt tsu geyn,
Freyt aykh kinder ale!
Oy tantst kinder, yederere bazinder,
Lekoved der heyliker kale.

The Sabbath itself arrives,
Be happy all you children!
O, dance children, each on his own,
in honor of the holy bride.

Dos iz klor, vi a hor
az shabes is di kale.
Der khusndl der sheyner, iz nit keyner.
Nor mir yidelekh ale.

This is obvious as a hair,
that Sabbath is the bride.
The beautiful groom is no one else
but all of us Jews.

Un ver es lakht, un khoyzek makht.
Fun der kale-khusn.
Der vet take esn a make
fun der side-levyusn.

And he who laughs, and mocks
the groom and bride.
He will indeed eat nothing
at the Leviathan-feast.

o, brider zog….