Archive for Lifshe Schaechter Widman

“Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2019 by yiddishsong

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern? / How did I get so many tears?
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Zwiniacze 040Zvinyetchke (Zwiniacza), Bukovina (now Ukraine),
hometown of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Another sad love song from the 1890s Bukovina repertoire of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. This is not the only song in which she rhymes “shpekulirn” and “krapirn”, words which reflect her Austria-Hungarian upbringing. I have yet to find other versions or verses to the song.

Thanks to David Braun for help with this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?
Tsi iz den mayn kop mit vaser fil?
Ven vet mayn veynen shoyn ofhern?
Ven vet mayn veytik shvaygn shtil?

Ikh heyb nor un mit dir tse shpekulirn
ver ikh krank un mid vi der toyt.
Oy, ver se shpilt a libe, der miz ying krapirn.
Geyn avek miz ikh fin der velt.

TRANSLATION

How did I get so many tears?
Is my head full of water?
When will my weeping cease?
When will my pain be silent.

When I just start to gamble with you,
I become deadly sick and tired.
O, whoever has a love affair will croak:
I have to leave this world.
Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 10.20.11 AM

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“Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2019 by yiddishsong

Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan / I wanted to be king
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded in Bronx, NY by Leybl Kahn 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is our 153 posting on the Yiddish Song of the Week blog. Upon reflection, it has given us great satisfaction to see the effects of the blog. Songs from YSW have been recorded; choral leaders have introduced these songs to their groups; and in concerts and around dining room tables many singers around the world perform songs learned from YSW. It has also inspired some to look for Yiddish song recordings in their own families and contribute.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York who is the webmaster of the blog and has done an outstanding job.

After each post we receive some comments about the translations, misspellings and corrections, additional information on the songs and we appreciate all of them. We do not have the time or staff to sit down and change the original posts, but will some day we hope. Therefore it is important for the readers of the blog to also read the comments. Now onto this week’s post…

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) rarely sings dance tunes such as this in 2/4 time. Perhaps this is based on a sher (square dance) from her hometown of Zvinyetshke, Bukovina? Versions of the lyrics, verses and refrain, are better known with a different, slower melody. For example, Feygl Sultan sings it and calls it Hob ikh mir a shpan on Ruth Rubin’s recording Jewish Life: The Old Country. Menachem Kipnis includes this song with the slower melody in his collection of 60 folksongs and calls it Zol ikh vern a rov. Others call it A bal-agole lid or Der bal-agole (The Coachman). That version has been recorded many times by cantors in particular.

LifsheAndFeterWidman

Lifshe with her second husband Isaac Widman, 1950s NY

Though LSW only sings two verses, a creative singer could take lyrics from these other recordings and printings to extend the song. The song begs for contemporary lyrics – “ikh hob gevolt a president zayn….” etc. In almost all the other versions the rhyme with “vilt zikh” is “shilt zikh” (my wife is always cursing) which seems right.

TRANSLITERATION
Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan,
hob ikh nisht keyn malke.
Kh’o gevolt a hitsl zan,
hob ekh nisht keyn palke.

Kh’o gevolt a melamed zan,
ken ekh nisht keyn Toyre.
Kh’o gevolt a soykher zan,
hob ekh nisht keyn skhoyre.

Refrain:
In in leybn vilt zekh
un mayn vayb krigt zekh.
Zey ikh mir a shteyn,
zets ekh zekh in veyn.

TRANSLATION
I wanted to be king
but I have no queen.
I wanted to be a dogcatcher,
but I have no club.

I wanted to be a melamed [teacher of children]
but I don’t know any Torah.
I wanted to be a merchant
but I have no merchandise.

Refrain:
l want to enjoy life
but my wife argues.
So I see a rock
and I sit myself down.
Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 10.48.18 AM

“Pitifers vab” – A Purim Play Song Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2019 by yiddishsong

Pitifers vab / Potiphar’s Wife: A Purim Play Song
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

800px-Rembrandt_-_Joseph_and_Potiphar's_wife

Potiphar’s wife and Joseph, by Rembrandt, 1634

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) remembered this song from a purim-shpil in her home town, Zvinyetshke, Bukovina. The “Mekhires yoysef” Purim pay about the selling of Joseph was so popular that  LSW term for the Purim players was “Yosef-shpiler”. This song sung by the Joseph character describes the attempted seduction by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39-40). It also is a good example of the open, carnivalesque atmosphere of the Purim holiday when even sexual topics could be referred to in public.

TRANSLITERATION

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
ikh zol mit ir shlufn.
ikh zol mit ir shlufn.
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Got vet mikh shtrufn.

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
mir zoln shlufn beyde.
mir zoln shlufn beyde.
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Yitskhok iz mayn zeyde.

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
Mir zoln zayn tsizamen
Mir zoln zayn tsizamen,
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Rukhl iz mayn mame.

TRANSLATION

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
that I should sleep with her.
I struggled with the evil inclination –
and remembered – God would punish me.

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
we should sleep together.
I struggled with the evil inclination
and remembered – Isaac was my grandfather.

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
we should be together.
I struggled with the evil inclination
and remembered – Rachel was my mother. potifer1potifer2

“S’iz shvarts in himl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2019 by yiddishsong

S’iz shvarts in himl / The Sky is Black by Avrom Goldfaden
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman: 

This song about Rebecca in the Bible is a folklorized version of a song written by Avrom Goldfaden. It appears, text only, in his volume Dos yidele, where it is called “Rivkes toyt” (Rebecca’s Death, see scans below). Before the poem, Goldfaden gives this introduction:

In the midrash it says: When Rebecca died, they had to bury her at night so that Esau would not see and follow her to the burial. For if he did so, she would be cursed for having such a son. Jacob had run away to Horon and Isaac was too old. So no one accompanied her at her funeral. 

rebeccacoro“Rebecca at the Well”, painting by Corot, 1839

The midrash addresses the question – why was Rebecca’s death not mentioned in the Torah?

Goldfaden was a master of creating songs that resonated with Yiddish folklore. Though this song is about Biblical figures, it resembles a typical Yiddish orphan song. The second line “S’iz a pakhed af der gas aroystsugeyn” (It is a fright to go out in the street) is the exact same as the second line in the ballad “Fintser glitshik shpeyt ba der nakht“, the first song ever presented on Yiddish Song of the Week. And the last line “Elnt blaybsti du vi a shteyn” (Alone you remain like a stone) is found in other Yiddish orphan songs. In this case, biblical Jacob is the orphan. LSW, in her slow, emotional and mournful style, sings this song about Biblical characters as if it reflected a contemporary, local tragedy.

Two textual changes worth noting:

1) Instead of Goldfaden’s “A mes, a mes” א מת, א מת  (A corpse, a corpse), Lifshe sings “emes, emes” (true, true) אמת אמת. which just by combining the two words into one word, changes the meaning completely. This reminds us of the Golem legend in which “emes” אמת [truth] was written on the Golem’s forehead, but when he was no longer needed, the rabbi wiped off the first letter, the alef א and the Golem became dead מת

2) LSW sings “miter Rukhl” (mother Rachel) instead of “miter Rivke” (mother Rebecca). This can be explained, I believe, by the fact that the appellation “muter/miter Rukhl” is far more common than “muter Rivke”. I  did a Google Search in Yiddish to compare both and “muter Rukhl” won 453 – 65. The Yiddish folksinger would have found the phrase “muter Rivke” strange to the ear. In addition, the matriarch Rachel also had an unusual burial: she was buried far from home, on the road to Efrat, and therefore all alone, as Rebecca.

In the papers of the YIVO Ethnographic Commission there is a version of the song collected in the 1920s or 1930s, singer, collector and town unknown. There too the singer changed “a mes” to “emes” but sang Rivke not Rukhl.

TRANSLITERATION

S’iz shvarts in himl me zeyt nit kayn shtern.
S’iz a pakhid af der gas aroystsugeyn.
Shvartse volkn gisn heyse trern
un der vint, er bluzt mit eyn geveyn.

Emes, emes, ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.
Etlekhe mentshn geyen trit ba trit.
Me trugt deym toytn, ersht a frishn korbn:
indzer miter Rukhl, ver ken zi nit?

Yankl iz dekh fin der heym antlofn.
Er shluft dekh dort af deym altn shteyn.
Shtey of di yusem! Di host dekh shoyn keyn mame nisht.
Elnt blabsti du vi a shteyn.

TRANSLATION

The sky is black, no stars can be seen.
It’s a fright to go out in the street.
Black clouds gush hot tears
and the wind blows with a great cry.

True, true she died not long ago.
Several people walked step by step.
They carry the deceased, a fresh sacrifice:
our mother Rukhl, who doesn’t know her?

Jacob had run away from home.
He sleeps on that old rock.
Wake up you orphan! You no longer have a mother.
You remain alone like a stone.

siz shvarts 1siz shvarts 2

From Goldfadn’s Dos yidele, 1891:

goldfadn1
goldfadn2
goldfadn3
goldfadn4.png
goldfadn5

“Mayn tayer mimele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mayn tayer mimele / My Dear Auntie
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a timely song for Elul (beginning August 11-12) since it is mentioned in the first line. Elul leads up to the high holidays and is a serious time of reflection. Mimele (Auntie), it is implied, takes advantage of this charity giving time to rake in some charity for herself.

After the recording of the song, in the brief dialogue with the interviewer Kahn, LSW says she heard it about 50 years ago (around the turn of the 20th century) from older women – her mother or her aunts. She adds that it is not a children’s song and not a theater song. “In our town we hadn’t yet heard about the theater.”

zvinyace

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s shtetl Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina

The Galician songwriter Nokhem Sternheim (1879 – 1942) wrote a popular song Mayn tayere Malkele which was recorded by Miriam Kressyn, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Salomon Klezmorim, Jane Peppler and Noel Akchote. The story behind the Sternheim song is told in Norman Salsitz’s memoirs Three Homelands: Memoirs of Jewish Life in Poland, Israel and America.

The melody also is similar to Dos kishinever shtikele made famous by Moyshe Oysher and recorded by others. The first part of the melody was also played by klezmorim. Dave Tarras includes it in his medley called Kishinev on the CD Dave Tarras: Master of the Jewish Clarinet produced by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.

But in terms of folksong, a version of the Tayer mimele entitled Tayer Yankele with a similar melody and storyline (Yankl is a thief) appears in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920. A scan of that is attached; evidence that Sternheim based his song on the earlier folksong.

TRANSLITERATION:

Ver fleyg geyn rosh-khoydesh Elul mit di pishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.
Ver fleyg bam katsev ganvenen di kishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.

Eyn mul hot zi der tate gekhapt.
Mayn tayer Mimele.
Oy hot er geshlugn, oy hot er geklapt!
Mayn tayer Mimele.

TRANSLATION:

Who used to go around the first day of Elul with a charity box (pushke)?
My dear auntie.
Who used to steal the cow’s intestines from the butcher?
My dear auntie.

Once her father caught her.
My dear auntie.
Oy did he beat her, oy did he hit her.
My dear auntie.
mimele1
mimele2
Tayer Yankele
in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920:

mimele70amimele70b

“In mayn hartsn brent a fayer” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2018 by yiddishsong

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NY

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Another lyrical love song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) from the Leybl Kahn recordings of 1954.

Katchor1Katchor2Lifshe Schaechter Widman & Leybl Kahn by Ben Katchor

Two similar versions of the song without the melody were collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe and Oyzer Pipe in Sanok, Galicia and published in the YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937 in Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, page 62. I have mentioned before in this blog that of all the pre-World War Two collections of Yiddish folksong, the Pipe brothers’ Galicia, Poland, collections come closest to LSW’s Bukovina repertory.

Note that LSW sings “malekh- hamus”, which is her dialect form for “malekh-hamoves” (angel of death).

Regarding the comic strip above: the artist Ben Katchor imagined how these 1954 recording sessions might have looked in his advertisement for the cassette Az di furst avek. The strip appeared in the collection Picture Story 2 (NY. 1986, edited by Ben Katchor).

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart

TRANSLITERATION

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer
nor me zeyt nisht keyn royekh aroys.
Ekh hob gemeynt bist a malekh fin deym himl.
Tsum sof bisti mayn malekh-hamus

Mayne eltern tien mikh freygn,
vus ikh gey azoy arim  betribt.
Vi ken ikh zey mayn shmarts dertseyln,
az ekh hob mekh in dir farlibt.

Az ikh hob mekh in dir farlibt.
hot keyn shum foygl af der velt hot nisht gevist.
Haynt iz a rash in ale gasn,
az indzer libe iz imzist.

Az di libe iz imzist;
Es geyt mir azh un a geveyn.
Far veymen blaybt den di veytik
Az nisht nor bay mir aleyn.

TRANSLATION

A fire burns in my heart
but no smoke can be seen.
I thought you were an angel from heaven,
turns out you’re the angel of death.

My parents ask me
why I go around so sad.
How can I tell them of my pain –
that I have fallen in love with you.

That I have fallen in love with you –
not a bird the world over knew about it.
Today there’s much talk in all the streets
that our love is for naught.

That our love is for naught
keeps me crying.
With whom will stay this pain
if not only with me.

brent1

brent2

brent3

Shmuel-Zaynvil and Oyzer Pipe, Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937:
Pipe-brent

“Di levune shaynt in der fintsterer nakht” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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

Di levune shaynt in der fintsterer nakht
The moon shines in the dark night

Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

LifsheAndFeterWidman

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her 2nd husband, Isaac Widman,
approximately at the time of the recording of this song, 1950s. 

This lyrical love song from the man’s perspective contrasts with the ballads in Lifshe Schaechter Widman’s repertoire which have a single narrative plot. The three verses barely relate to each other other than the two lines about sending letters that connect the second and third verse, and the reptition of the woman’s name Libele. As in most lyrical songs, the song emphasizes the emotion rather than the storyline. The lines about swimming in a deep river would usually signal an upcoming tragedy but nothing is made of it.

TRANSLITERATION

Di levune shaynt in der fintsterer nakht.
Libele zitst dort baym fentster un trakht.
Es dakht zikh ir az Itzikl geyt
in nayem mantl ungetin.

Gebudn hob ikh mikh in a takhele.
Dus takhlele iz geveyzn tif.
Veyn nit, veyn nit Libele,
ikh vel dir shikn briv.

Brivelekh vel ikh dir shikn.
Brivelekh vesti leynen.
Az ikh vel mekh dermanen in dan tayer zis punim,
klugn vel ikh in veynen.

TRANSLATION

The moon shines in the dark night.
Libele sits there at the window and thinks.
She imagines that Itzikl is coming
dressed in a new coat.

I was bathing in a river;
the river was deep.
Don’t cry, don’t cry Libele,
I will send you letters.

Letters I will send you
Letters you will read.
And when I think of your dear, sweet face,
I will lament and cry.
dilevune yid1

dilevune yid2