Archive for Leybl Kahn

“Avreymele melamed” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

The amusing children’s song Avreymele melamed (Little Abraham, the Jewish Elementary School Teacher) tells the story of the shlimazl (bearer of poor luck) of the shtetl. This week’s posting features a performance of Avreymele by Lifshe Schaechter Widman in the Bronx in 1954 (recording by Leybl Kahn):

The song became popular thanks to numerous cantors who included it into their repertory. The transformation from LSW’s folksong to the cantorial version is notable. LSW’s verses rhyme and have a distinct melody throughout. She playfully sings “shirem hashirem” instead of “shir hashirem”, turning the “Song of Songs” into the “Umbrella of Umbrellas.”

f23ab2af7d5e72bfa94ad6553c627887--elementary-schools-schools-in

The much longer cantorial versions feature a recitative style with no rhyming verses. For an example of the cantorial version, see this video featuring the Cantor Simon Spiro, complete with chorus and orchestra, arranged by Maurice Goldman and produced by the Milken Archive:

Many Yiddish folksongs entered the cantorial repertoire thanks to Menachem Kipnis’ successful Yiddish songbooks and performances throughout Poland between the world wars. Kipnis (1878 – 1942)  was a singer, cantor, folklorist, journalist and photographer. It is clear that his version, which has many more verses than LSW’s, was the basis for the cantorial versions. Attached at the end of this post are scans of Kipnis’ “Avremele Melamed”. The version of the song in A. Z. Idelsohn’s Thesaurus of Oriental Hebrew Melodies (Vol. 9)  is also taken from Kipnis’ collection.

Cantor David Kossovitsky, Oberkantor Boas Bischofwerder, Mike Burstyn (in Hebrew) and Gojim (Austria) among other cantors and singers have had a lot of fun with this song. Though cantors have taken the song far from its folksong roots, the playful call-and-response – implied in LSW’s and heard in Spiro’s version –  was not lost along the way.

When the song was translated into Hebrew and performed in the Israeli musical איש חסיד היה [Ish khasid haya] by Dan Almagor (1968) it attained a new and wide audience.

Here is a recent performance of the song in the Israeli musical:

The nature of the song almost invites singers to create new verses about a shlimazl. One of my favorites is performed by the Columbia University Jewish vocal group Pizmon, who sing in Yiddish but add a verse in English at the end:

And who do you think it was
who came late to shul
and his cell phone went ringing
right in the middle of the rebbe’s dvar toyre?

Thanks this week to David Braun for help with the transcription. 

Transliteration / Translation:

Spoken by LSW: Dus is a kinderlidl: Avreymele melamed.

Avreymele melamed
Avreymele melamed.
Oy! Ze’ mir gegangen zikh budn –
Avreymele melamed.
Gehat hob ikh a shudn.
Avreymele melamed.
Oy! Tsulib dem shirem-hashirem,
Avreymele melamed,
makhn di yidn pirem.
Avreymele melamed.
Oy! Avreymele melamed.
Bist Avreymele!

Spoken by LSW: This is a children’s song: Avreymele melamed [Avreymele the Elementary Schoolteacher]

Avreymele melamed.
Oy! We went bathing
Avreymele melamed,
and suffered a loss –
Avreymele melamed.
Oy! Because of the “umbrella of umbrellas”,
Avreymele melamed,
Jews celebrate Purim,
Avremele melamed.
Oy! Avreymele melamed.
You’re indeed Avreymele.
avreymelemelamed1kipnis2

From Kipnis, Akhtsik folks-lider (Warsaw, 1925):

kipnis1kipnis2

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“Yoyne-hanuvi” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2017 by yiddishsong

 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We are posting this recording of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman singing Yoyne-hanuvi (Jonah the Prophet) for Yom-Kippur since Maftir Yoyne, the Bible story of Jonah is read during the mincha (afternoon) service. The recording was made by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx in 1954. Two newer interpretations of this song based on LSW’s version have been recorded: the German/USA  group Myridian on their recording of 2004 and one by the singer Eleonore Biezunski and her group Yerushe on the CD Yerushe/Heritage in 2016 (you can hear part of the song at this link).

jonah_whale

This song might have had special meaning for LSW since her father was named “Yoyne.” He died of cholera in 1894 when she was one-year old. His grave is still to be found in the Jewish cemetery of (Yiddish name) Zvinyatchke (aka Zvinyace, Zvineace, Zveniachyn), Ukraine on the Dneister river.

The sudden break in the narrative (and melody) from the story of Jonah to a direct appeal to God from the woman singer makes this a very unusual song. I have found no other versions. This recording first appeared on a Global Village  Music cassette release of LSW’s songs Az di furst Avek (1986).  Upon another listen I have changed a few words in the transcription since that release. The transliteration reflects LSW’s dialect.

Yoyne-hanuvi iz fin Got antlofn.
Er hot nisht gevolt kayn shlikhes geyn.
Oyf dem shif hot es im getrofn
ven dus shif hot ungehoybn intergeyn.

Gevald! Varft men goyrl oys.
Veymen me zol in yam araynvarfn.
Goyrl iz aroys:
Yoyne-hanuvi min-hastam.

Inter dray misles hot Got bashert a nes.
A fish hot im ousgeshpign tsirik
Hobn di yidn gezeyn, vus se iz gesheyn.
Nisim fin Got aleyn.

Azoy zolst mir vazn vi mayn man tsi shpazn.
Uptsihitn zekh fin deym toyt.

Dus ken nisht keyner, nor di Got eyner.
Rateven Yoynen finem toyt.

Dus ken nisht keyner, nor Got di eyner.
Uptsirateven Yoynen fin deym toyt.

Jonah the prophet ran away from God;
He did not want to go on his mission.
There on the sea it happened to him –
when the ship started to sink.

Help! So they throw lots
to determine whom to throw into the sea.
The lots concluded that:
Jonah the Prophet of course.

In three days God performed a miracle.
A fish threw him back out.
And thus the Jews saw what had occurred –
miracles from God himself.

So you should show me
how to provide for my husband,
to save him from death.

No one can do this,
only you God –
who rescued Jonah from death.

yoyne1

yoyne2

yoyne3

“Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman, Ph.D.:

Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn (Whoever Does Not Listen to Their Parents) is a lyric love song performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) for this recording by Leybl Kahn, made in the Bronx in 1954. So far, I can find no other versions of the whole song in printed collections.

It seems LSW remembered the final fourth verse a little later so the song is presented on two audio files – the first three verses are on one audio file and the final verse on a second audio file. The song is unusual in that the melody changes for just the last verse.

As usual on this blog, the transliteration in the English alphabet reflects more accurately the singer’s dialect than the transcription in Yiddish that follows, which is done in standard Yiddish.

Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn.
Deym kimt dekh oys azoy tsi geyn.
Mayn mame hot mir geheysn shlufn geyn leygn.
Hob ekh getin in drosn shteyn.

Zenen derkhgegangen tsvey sheyne yingelekh.
In ekh bin mir geshtanen azoy betribt.
Az s’iz eynem bashert tsuris tsi ladn.
Hob ekh mekh in eynem farlibt.

Bay mayn mamen bin ekh eyn un eyntsik kind
Un mayn mame hot mekh zeyer lib.
Zeyt zhet mir tsi poyln bay mayn mame
Zi zol im lozn arayn in shtib.

From second file – final verse.

Di mame zogt shoyn yo.
Ober mayn tate zogt dekh neyn.
Zeyt zhet mir tsi poyln bay mayn tatn
Er zol meygn in shtib arayngeyn.

TRANSLATION

Whoever does not listen to their parents –
That is how it goes.
My mother told me to go to sleep
but I went outside to stand.

Then two handsome boys went by,
and i was standing there so sullenly.
If it’s your fortune to have troubles –
I fell in love with one of them.

I am my mother’s one and only child,
and my mother loves me very much.
So please help me convince my mother
to let him into the house.

My mother says “yes”.
But my father says “no”.
So please help me convince my father,
he should allow him to come into the house.

ver-es-vil

“Di Kolomeyer tsaytung” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Perhaps because of an advertisement in the Kolomey [Kolomyia, Kolomea – Eastern Galicia, today Ukraine] newspaper, young women came to the city and became street walkers. Any other interpretations of the first line of this song, which Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) says was created during the first world war, would be welcome. This recording of Lifshe was made by Leybl Kahn in 1954 in New York.

Leybl Kahn

 As part of YIVO’s I. L. Cahan Folklore Club Leybl Kahn recorded approximately 90 Yiddish songs from LSW in NY in 1954. This photo of Kahn is from the 1980s

Klezmer music scholar Prof. Martin Schwartz (Berkeley) remembers his mother from Brisk de Lite (Brest Litovsk, now in Belarus) singing this song, but about a “Bialistoker tsaytung” (newspaper from Bialystok)  He also pointed out that the same melody, more or less, can be heard in the klezmer repertoire in Harry Kandel’s Odessa Bulgar.

Note: in the first verse LSW sings mistakenly “Arop fun dem shlekhtn veg iz zi” which means – “She went off the bad/crooked path”; the opposite of what she intended. I believe she meant to sing “Arop funem glaykhn veg iz zi” – “She went off the good/straight path”.

Spoken:

LSW: A pur lider vos me hot gezingen in krig.
LK: In der ershter velt-milkhome.
LSW: In der ershter velt-milkhume
LK: Gut, dos ershte lid…

Di kolomeyer tsaytung hot gebrakht a vabele
shpeyt bay nakht.
Gegangen iz zi
fun shpeyt biz fri
Arup fun dem shlekhtn [glaykhn] veyg iz zi.

Meydlekh in der ershter klas
geyen arim in der (h)intershter gas.
Hefker iz di velt atsind.

Tsi iz dus fayn? Tsi iz dus sheyn?
Biz shpeyt ba nakht arimtsigeyn?
Es iz nisht fayn; es iz nisht sheyn.
Dus iberike shtoyst zikh un aleyn.

Spoken:

LSW: A few songs that were sung in wartime.
LK: In the first world war.
LSW: In the first world war.
LK: the first song…

The Kolomey newspaper brought a young woman
late at night.
She walked from late to early morning
Off the straight path she went.
[LSW sings mistakenly “off the evil path she went”]

First class girls wander around in the back alleys.
The world is topsy-turvey now.

Is this fine? Is this nice?
To walk around till late at night?
It is not fine; it is not nice.
You can imagine the rest yourself.

kolomeyer1kolomeyer2.JPG

“S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg (The Holy Days Have Arrived) is a song that takes place before Rosh-hoshone and Yom-kipper when it is a tradition to visit the departed family at the cemetery.

YIVO

Photo courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

In the cemetery, a voice is heard of a recently deceased woman who died in childbirth, and she sings of her anguish about her new born child and her husband whom she loved.

S’iz gekimen di heylike teyg
Ven me darf geyn af keyver-oves
Az ikh bin gekimen in halbn veg
Hob ikh mikh dermont in mane makhshoves.

Plitsem hert men a kol
fin a frishn korbn.
Fin a yunger kimpiturin.
Vus iz ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.

Vi iz mayn yinger man?
Ver vet im arimnemen?
Vi iz mayn pitsele kind?
Ver vet im zeygn gebn?

Az ikh dermon mikh in der tsayt
Ven gehat hob ikh es [epes?] tsu krign.
Az ikh dermon mikh in der tsayt
Fin mayn man, fin mayn libn.

The holy days have arrived
time to visit family in the graveyard
When I was half way there,
I remembered my ruminations.

Suddenly a voice is heard
from a fresh victim:
A woman who died in childbirth
Just a short while ago.

Where is my young husband?
Who will embrace him?
Where is my little child?
Who will breastfeed it?

When I am reminded of that time
when I had what I wanted.
When i think of that time,
Of my husband whom I loved.sizgekumen1sizgekumen2

When one thinks about love songs in Yiddish, the vast majority are sung by unmarried girls who dream of the man they love and how wonderful life will be after the wedding. Few are the songs, such as this, in which the woman openly expresses love for her young husband. Lifshe Shaechter Widman’s (LSW’s) powerful emotional style matches the words perfectly.

In this case, the wife sings of her love from her grave and the song immediately reminds us of another song performed by LSW, Afn beys-olyem, also known as Di shtifmuter and originally penned by Mikhl Gordon.

In addition to this field recording of LSW made by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx, 1954, there are two other published versions of S’iz gekimen di heylike teg. One, collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe in Galica, does indeed take one verse taken from Gordon’s song. see Dov Noy and Meir Noy, Yidishe folkslider fun galitsye (Tel Aviv, 1971), page 110 – 112.

In Pipe’s version the song is strictly an orphan song and has a refrain.

Pipe1Pipe2

The second version can be found in Shloyme Bastomski’s song collection, Baym kval – folkslider, Vilna, 1923 (page 81, song #22) and he calls it Di shtifmuter, the same title as Gordon’s song. This second version emphasizes the wicked step-mother who will mistreat the child.

bastomski- heylike teg

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

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

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

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schaechter: This is a dance song from Yigolnitse.

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

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

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

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

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

Schaechter: Yo. (Yes.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 galitz 1

2 galitz 2

2 galitz 3

2 galitz 4

“Hosti Beyle gitn meyd?” A Yiddish Kolomeyke Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2015 by yiddishsong

Hosti Beyle gitn meyd? (Beyle, Do You Have Good Mead?)
A Yiddish Kolomeyke
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, NY, 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) introduces this song as a children’s song, and it seems that a number of her children’s songs are adapted dance tunes either from Jewish or Ukrainian melodies. In this case one can easily identify the melody as a kolomeyke*, a couples dance from Ukraine/Eastern Poland/Galicia, referring to the Ukrainian city known as “Kolomey” in Yiddish, and “Kolomyia” in Ukrainian.

"Kolomeyka" 1895 by Teodor Axentowicz (1859 - 1938)

“Kolomeyka” 1895 by Teodor Axentowicz (1859 – 1938)

In the Yiddish song collection Yiddish Folksongs From Galicia in the volume Folklore Research Center Studies, Volume 2 (Jerusalem: 1971) devoted to the work of folklorist Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe, and edited by Dov and Meir Noy, a variant and its melody is included (song #51, please see below). In the notes (p. 308), Meir Noy lists the other printed variants of this song in other collections and comments that the melody is a kolomeyka.

I had always thought that this song was tsvey-taytshik, with many double entendres, and considering the fact that a kolomeyke was a couples dance that made sense. So I was rather surprised to find it in a collection of Hasidic Yiddish songs entitled: קונטרס: אגרא דבי הילולא מילי: חרוזים חשובים מדור הישן There is no place of publication (I bought it in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) but it is dated 1996. They conclude the volume with this version of “Hosti Beyle” attributed to the Ropshitser Rebbe תנועה מהרה”ק מראפשיץ זי״ע

I have not changed the spelling:

האסטו בייליש גוטע מעהד
געב אהער דעם הייביר
ווילסטו וויסען ווי שפּעט
צוועלף אַ זייגער.

How the Ropshitser Rebbe interpreted this song would be interesting. In both Pipe’s version and the Ropshitser’s version they use the word “heyber” instead of LSW’s “eyber.” “Heyber” (handle/lever) makes more sense.

*Musically a kolomeyke is characterized by symmetric phrases with running 16th notes followed by two quarter notes. Here is a kolomeyke that bears my name “Icek W. Kolomej” (Itzik in Kolomey) from “Polish Village Music”, Arhoolie 1995, CD7031. Played by Orkiestra Majkuta.

Lifshe (spoken): A kinderlid.
Lifshe: (spoken) A children’s song.

Hosti Beyle gitn meyd?
Na zhe dir deym [h]eyber.
Vi’sti meynen s’iz shoyn shpet,
S’iz ersht tsvelef a zeyger.

Do you have good mead, Beyle?
Then give me the lever [or handle].
You want to think it’s late –
But it’s only 12 o’clock.

Gisti yo, gisti neyn?
vayl ikh hob keyn tsayt tsi shteyn.
Gisti yo, gisti neyn?
vayl ikh hob keyn tsayt tsi shteyn.

Do you give or not?
Because I’ve no time to stand around.
Do you give or not?
Because I’ve no time to stand around.

hosti beyle

And here is the melody and more verses from Noy and Noy/Pipe 1971:
HostiBeyle Noy