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“Farmutshet in fintserer tfise” Performed by Leo Summergrad

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2018 by yiddishsong

Farmutshet in fintserer tfise / Exhausted In a Dark Jail
Sung by Leo Summergrad, recorded by Summergrad in 1959

Commentary by Itizk Gottesman

Upon hearing a previous post Es hot geshneyet un geregnt sung by Esther Gold, Yiddish singer, song lover and collector Leo Summergrad wrote to say that the melody is similar not only to In kampf by David Edelshtadt but also to the song Farmutshet in fintserer tfise. I asked him to send his recording of the song to the Yiddish Song of the Week.

RussianPrison

Russian Prison, circa 1890

Farmutshet in fintserer tfise is a Yiddish translation of a popular Russian poem Замучен тяжелой неволей by Gregori Machtet (1852 – 1901). Here is a choral version of the original Russian song:

In Albert Bitter’s song collection Zing-A-Lid (NY, 1940, 1941) he has printed the words and melody and noted that it is a translation from Russian. In a Yiddish song collection of the 1890s Lieder Magazin (NYC)  it is already noted that the source of the music for Edelshtadt’s In kamf is the Russian song.

The Yiddish translator is “A. Kovner” which I assume to be a pseudonym.  In the on-line Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO,  Naomi Feder sings the first two verses of Farmutshet in fintserer tfise. I could not find any studio recording of the song.

Leo Summergrad writes about this recording:

I probably learned the song in Mitl Shul, which was also before the war.  I don’t recall the when and how, but we put on plays honoring Naphtali Botwin and Hirsh Leckert.  Perhaps it was part of the plays.

As to the recordings:  I’ve had a love affair with Yiddish music since I was a very young child.  My mother and father both sang beautifully and did so all the time.  My uncle was the lead tenor in the Oscar Julius quartet.  A big regret is that I never recorded my parents when I had the opportunity.

In 1959 I bought a quality reel to reel tape recorder, which I still have, for the sole purpose of memorializing some of the songs I love.  Over a period of months, I did so.  On the recording I say, “These are a few of my favorites”.  I then record two hours of songs.  As technology improved, I converted the reels to cassettes and later to CDs.  פארמוטשעט אין פינסטערע טוויסעס appears on volume 1, under “Songs of Struggle”.

About the same time, I started collecting Yiddish recordings and song books.  I currently have about 700 recordings from 27 different countries and more than 60 books.  Information about the recordings and songs, of which there are about 2300, are in data bases that I developed.

Over the years, I have made about a dozen more recordings, many of which were of programs that a friend and I put on at various locations over a number of years.

Thanks this week to Leo Summergrad for sending us his stirring recording. 

TRANSCRIPTION

Farmutshet in fintserer tfise,
in kamf far der arbeter-makht.
Bagegnt dem toyt hostu heldish,
bist erlekh gefaln in shlakht.

Neyn, sine hot bloyz undz nor gevorgn,
getribn in shlakht hot undz mut.
Baym keyver mir hobn geshvoyrn
batsoln dem faynt far dayn blut.

Far undz iz nor eyn veg nor dayner,
vi du zayn in tfise farshmakht.
A lebn nor shtraykn nor kemfn,
un faln vi du far der zakh.

TRANSLATION

Exhausted in a dark prison,
in struggle for the workers’ power,
you met your death like a hero
and died honestly.

No, hatred has only strangled us.
Our courage drove us into battle.
At the grave we swore
to make the enemy pay for your blood.

For us there is only one way – yours,
As you, to be suffering in prison.
A life of only strikes and struggles,
and to die as you for the cause.
jail lyrics.jpeg

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