Archive for Lifshe Schachter Widman

“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

“Spi mladenets/Shluf mayn feygele” Performed by Esther Korshin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s post features a medley that combines three distinct lullabies sung by Esther Korshin in 1946. Yiddish lullabies, as most Yiddish folksongs, are women’s folk poetry. But with the genre of lullaby the element of improvisation plays a bigger role as we see in this week’s post.

Esther Korshin picEsther Korshin, August 1957. Courtesy of Oliver Korshin.

1) The first part consists of the Russian lullaby Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy (Sleep My Wonderful Boy) better known as “Cossack Lullaby”

2) This is followed by a Yiddish verse of a lullaby beginning with the line Shluf mayn feygele (Sleep My Little Bird) sung to the same melody as Cossack Lullaby.

3) The lullaby medley concludes with a different Yiddish lullaby also beginning with the line Shluf mayn feygele.

Parts one and two are connected by melody; parts two and three are connected by the lyrics. See below for the recording, notes on the songs and finally the lyrics.

Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy

The popular Russian lullaby Spi mladenets  usually referred to as “Cossack Lullaby” was written in 1840 by Mikhail Lermontov (1814 – 1841). It has been folkorized over the years and Korshin’s version differs slightly from the original poem.

The melody was the basis for Yiddish lullabies by Avrom Goldfaden (1840 – 1908) and J. L. Gordon (Yehude-Leyb Gordon 1830 – 1892). See: Ruth Rubin Voices of a People, pp. 260-261.

Jewish mothers wished for many things for their sons in Yiddish lullabies but growing up to be a soldier, as in this one, was not one of them. So it is no wonder that such a hope would be expressed in Russian not Yiddish. Her performance of this song reflects how intertwined Russian and Jewish culture were.

Shluf mayn feygele 1

After concluding the Cossack Lullaby, Korshin switches from Russian to Yiddish to sing two verses with the same melody. This is Goldfaden’s lullaby that originally began with the line “Shlof in freydn” (sleep in peace) and was printed in his collection of poetry Di Yidene (The Jewess, Odessa, 1872)  Attached at the end of this post is the complete original poem (Yidene 1, 2, 3). By 1901 it was an anonymous Yiddish folksong in the Ginsburg-Marek collection. A version closer to Goldfaden’s original poem, including music, can be found in  Eleonor and Joseph Mlotek Songs of Generations, p. 4.

Interesting that in “Shluf mayn feygele 1” Korshin sings  “Ay-liu-liu”, one of the Yiddish equivalents of “hush-a-bye” but also the Russian equivalent – “bayushki bayu”, making the connection between the Yiddish song and the Russian one even tighter.

Readers of the Yiddish Song of the Week blog will remember that another lullaby with the first line Shluf/Shlof mayn feygele but a different melody, sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.

Shluf mayn feygele 2

This is a popular Yiddish lullaby with many variants. Here is a link to another version on the web, sung by Jill Rogoff.

For more on Yiddish lullabies see: Dov Noy “The Model of the Yiddish Lullaby” in Studies in Yiddish Literature and Folklore, ed. Dov Noy, Jerusalem, 1986.  On the lullaby in Jewish literature and culture, Hebrew and Yiddish, see the entry “Lullabies” by Dov Noy and Aliza Shenhar in Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions.

Thanks to Samantha Shokin of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance for the Russian transcription and translation, Jennifer Herring for the recording, and Cantor Janet Leuchter for connecting us with the Korshin family. 

Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy:

Spi mladenets moy prekrasniy,
bayushki-bayu.
Tiho smotrit mesyats yasniy,
v kolybel’ tvoyu.

Stanu skazyvat’ ya skazku,
pesen’ku spoyu.
Ty dremli, zakryvshi glazki,
bayushki-bayu.

No otets tvoy, stariy voin,
zakalyon v boyu.
Spi moy angel, bud’ pokoen,
bayushki-bayu.

Ya sedeltse boevoe,
shelkom razoshyu.
Spi ditya moyo rodnoye,
bayushki-bayu.

Спи младенец мой прекрасный,
баюшки баю.
Тихо смотрит месяц ясный,
колыбель твою.

Стану сказывать я сказкy,
песенку спою.
Ты дремли, закрывши глазки,
баюшки-баю.

но отец твой, старый воин,
закалён в бою.
Спи мой ангел, будь покоен,
баюшки-баю.

Я седельце боевое,
шелком разошью.
Спи дитя мое родное,
баюшки-баю.

Sleep, my wonderful boy,
bayushki-bayu.
The clear moon is
quietly looking into your cradle.

I will tell a fairy tale,
I will sing a song.
You slumber, with your little eyes closed,
bayushki-bayu.

But your father, an old soldier,
was wounded in battle.
Sleep my angel, be at rest,
bayushki-bayu.

The battle horse’s saddle,
I will embroider with silk.
Sleep my dear child,
bayushki-bayu

Shluf mayn feygele 1

Shlof mayn feygele,
makh tsi dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shlof mayn zindele
Shlof mayn kindele
Bayushki bayu

Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shluf mayn zinenyu.
Shluf mayn feygele.
Makh tsi dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shluf mayn feygele;
makh tsi dayn eygele.
Ay-liu-liu-liu Liu…

Shluf mayn feygele 1

Sleep my little bird,
close your eye.
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear son
Sleep my dear child
Bayushki bayu

Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear son,
Sleep my little bird
Close your eye,
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my little bird,
close your eye.
Ay-liu-liu-liu Liu…

Shluf mayn feygele 2

Shluf mayn feygele
farmakh dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu
shluf mayn kindenyu
zay gezintenyu
Ay-lyu-lyu

Shluf mayn feygele
makh tsi dayn eygele
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sluf mayn kindenyu
Zay gezintenyu
Makh dayn eygelekh tsu.

Sleep my little bird
close your eye
Ay-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear child
and be well
Ay-lyu-lyu

Sleep my little bird
close your eye
Ay-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my dear child
and be well.
Close your eyes.

Yidene1yidene2Yidene3

 

“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

One Song – Three Pogroms

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The last day of Passover 1903 coincided with Easter that year, and the tragic Kishinev pogrom began on that date. keshenevKishinev, aftermath of the pogrom (YIVO Archives)

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) sang this version of a song about the pogrom which was adapted for other pogroms, or perhaps  was itself already an adaptation of an earlier pogrom song. In this post we note two other pogroms with versions of the song.

A version of the same pogrom song is sung by the actress/singer Miriam Kressyn about Bialystok on the LP record Dos Goldene Land. Kressyn was from Bialystok, and the Bialystoker pogroms took place in 1905 – 1906.  (Thanks to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives for providing this recording)

The third pogrom where this song was used was in Volodarka, Ukraine. This pogrom took place in July 1919 amidst the Russian Civil War. The lyrics (as collected by S. Kupershmid) appears in the Tsaytshrift far yidisher geshikhte, demografye un ekonomik literatur-forshung, shprakh-visnshaft un etnografye 2-3 (Minsk, 1928) page 803. It too contains the lines of walking through feathers as through snow in winter, and this emerged as one of the primary pogrom images, as we see in our Kishinev pogrom examples and others.

volodarkaOn the Workmen Circle’s LP “Amol iz geven a mayse”, Sidor Belarsky sings two verses of an abbreviated version of The Kishiniev Pogrom song. The song begins at this link – double click on “Amol iz geven a mayse (cont.)”  and go to 12:30 minutes.

In the chapter “The Pogrom As Poem” in David G. Roskies’ work Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture (1984) the author examines how the same pogrom song was adapted for different pogroms. He remarks “even when the singer invoked historical facts, the relics of the violence were organized into public symbols and thematic formulas, so that the details were applicable anywhere and only the place-name would have to be changed.”

Transliteration/Translation of LSW’s version:

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman “Lid funem Keshenever Pogrom”, recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, 1954

Akhron Shel Peysekh af der nakht
iz aroys a nayer “rozkaz.”
Az yidn zoln lign bahaltn.
Zey torn zikh nisht dreyen in gas.

Oy, ziser got in himl,
kuk shoyn arop af dr’erd.
Ze nor dem rash un getuml.
Vos hobn di yidn far a vert?

A hoyz fun dray gorn
hot men geleygt biz tsu dem grint.
Betgevant hot men gerisn,
di federn gelozt of dem vint.

In di federn iz men gegangen
azoy vi vinter in shney.
Vayber hot men geshlogn;
mener gerisn of tsvey.
Vayber hot men geshlogn;
Di mener tserisn of tsvey.

Ziser got in himl
kik shoyn arup af dr’erd
Vuz zenen di yidn azoy zindik
Vus zey hobn gur keyn vert?

The last day of Passover
a new regulation was issued.
That Jews should lie hidden;
they aren’t allowed in the street.

Oy sweet God in heaven,
Look already down on the earth.
See the tumult and chaos.
Are the Jews worth anything?

A house three stories high
was destroyed down to the ground.
Bedding was torn apart;
the feathers blew in the wind.

In the feathers they walked
as in winter in snow.
Women were beaten;
men torn in two.

Sweet God in heaven
Look already down to the Earth.
Have the Jews so sinned
that they are of no worth. Lifshe PogromLifshe Pogrom2

A Polish “Khad-gadyo” Performed by Mordkhe Schaechter

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2015 by yiddishsong

A Polish Khad-gadyo
Sung by Mordkhe Schaechter
Recorded by Leybl Kahn in 1954 New York.
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Though not in Yiddish, we present this week’s short ditty in the spirit of celebrating the upcoming holiday of Passover and as a contrast to last week’s Yiddish Khad-Gadyo. This is either the beginning of a longer Khad-gadyo song or perhaps simply a children’s rhyme based on khad-gadyo.

Spoken by Mordkhe Schaechter:
„אַ פּויליש־ייִדיש פּסח־לידל פֿון מײַן מוטער, זוויניעטשקע, בוקעווינע”
A Polish-Jewish Passover song from my mother; Zvinyetchke, Bukovina

Words in Polish (thanks to Dr. Karolina Szymaniak and Dr. Agi Legutko who both sent in the Polish and translations)

Moj ojciec kupił za dwa dziengi, za dwa złote,
 ej-ha-hu, chad-gadju 

My father bought for two zlotes, ey-ha-hu,
khad-gadyu. [one kid]

(as I understand it, “dziengi” is slang for “cash”, from Russian – IG).

Below are lyrics published in Yivo-bleter 1952, volume 36  page  370 (http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pagefeed/hebrewbooks_org_43640_370.pdf), from a different Khad-gadyo in Polish from Sanok, Galicia. The commentary at the end also mentions a Ukrainian version. Readers – please let us know in the comments if you know of other Polish versions of Khad-gadyo.

khad godye polish1

khad godye polish2

“Ze vi gru” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by yiddishsong

Ze vi gru (See How Gray)
Performance by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Recorded 2013, Bronx, by Itzik Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Before we enter the new year, let us do our part to remember that 2014 marked 100 years since World War One and post a song about that time.

In memory of her first yortsayt (memorial anniversary), the 2nd day of Khanike, I am posting the last song that I recorded from my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, a few months before she died. At 93 years of age she could still sing well.

DP Beyle LifshaVienna 1948-49. From left: Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, Mitsi Weininger.

I cannot find the full text for the song, but my mother knows it from Chernovitz, which was Romania when she grew up. We both agreed that it was about WWI but have no other information on the song. Could “in akhtsetn geboygn” refer to something else other than 1918? The rhyme “nayes” (news) and “Ashmoday’es” (Asmodeus’s) is wonderfully original.

As usual, any help finding more lyrics to this unusual song would be appreciated.

(The transliterated Yiddish reflects her dialect; the lyrics written in the Yiddish alphabet are transcribed in standard Yiddish.)

Ze vi gru der himl iz.
Gru vi dayne oygn.
S’iz der Balkan shoyn fun tsar
in akhtsetn geboygn.

See how gray the skies are;
Gray as your eyes.
The Balkan has already, from grief,
bent over in the 18th. [1918?]

Kruen brengen psires un.
Loyter shlekhte nayes.
Kruen brengen psires un.
Psires Ashmodayes.

Crows bring us over news,
just bad news.
Crows bring us over news,
News from (or “of”) Ashmodai. [the devil]

ZeViGru