Archive for Mordkhe Schaechter

“Shteyt in tol an alte mil” Performed by M.M. Shaffir

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

Shteyt in tol an alte mil / An Old Mill Stands in the Valley
Words by M. M. Shaffir,  Music -“adapted from a Romanian folk melody”
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The poet M. M. Shaffir (1909 -1988) was born in Suchava/Suceava (in Yiddish – “Shots”), Bukovina, Austria-Hungary; today – Romania. He immigrated to Montreal in 1939 and published 18 books of poetry. He was known for his love of Jewish folklore and his expert knowledge of the Yiddish language.

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M.M. Shaffir, Screen Shot from Cindy Marshall’s Film “A Life of Song: a Portrait of Ruth Rubin”

He was a close friend of the linguist, writer and editor Mordkhe Schaechter, and visited him in the Bronx several times.  At one of these occasions in 1974, the Sholem-Aleichem Cultural Center organized an event honoring his visit and afterward he sang three songs that he had composed at the Gottesman home across the street.

In this post we look at the first of those three songs, a doina-style melody Shteyt in tul an alte mil. He included the words and music in his collection Bay der kholem multer (Montreal, 1983) which are attached.

Several lines in his performance differ from the printed poem. On top of the musical notation, Shaffir wrote “loyt a Romeynishn folksmotiv” – “adapted from a Romanian folk melody.” To compare a Romanian traditional song to Shaffir’s composition Romanian music researcher Shaun Williams suggested listening to this Romanian doina sung by Maria Tanase:

Singer and scholar Michael Alpert also suggested listening to this Romanian “epic ballad”:

In Cindy Marshall’s film “A Life of Song: A Portrait of Ruth Rubin”, Shaffir can be seen in the episode where Rubin records singers in Montreal. The photo of him in this blog is taken from that scene. The entire film can be seen at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Legacy website.

TRANSCRIPTION

1) Shteyt in tul an alte mil.
Veyn ikh dortn in der shtil.
Shteyen dortn verbes tsvey
Veyn ikh oys mayn harts far zey.

2) Ergets vayt in kelt un shney
iz gefaln mayn Andrei.
Ergets af a vistn feld.
Hot zayn harts zikh opgeshtelt.

3)Deym boyars tsvey sheyne zin
zenen nisht avek ahin.
Nor Andrei hot men opgeshikt
hot a koyl zayn harts fartsikt.

4) Hot zayn harts zikh opgeshtelt.
Ergets oyf a vistn feld.
Ergets vayt in kelt un shney
S’iz mir vind un s’iz mir vey.

TRANSLATION

An old mill stands in the field
where I cry there quietly.
Two willows are there
and I cry my heart out for them.

Somewhere distant in cold and snow
my Andrei has fallen.
Somewhere on a barren field
his heart stopped beating.

The boyar’s two handsome sons
did not go there.
Only Andrei was sent
and a bullet devoured his heart.

His heart stopped beating
somewhere on a barren field.
Somewhere far in cold and snow,
Woe is me, how it hurts!

From Bay der kholem multer by M.M. Shaffir (Montreal, 1983) pp. 72-73:
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“Di goldene land” Performed by Paul Lipnick

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

Di goldene land / The Golden Land
A song by Elyokum Zunser
sung by Paul Lipnick

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s Yiddish song comes from Houston resident Elton Lipnick: an old home recording of his father Paul Lipnick singing the Eliyokum Zunser (1836-1913) song Di goldene medine (The Golden Land).

Paul (Paltiel) Lipnick (1903 – 1997) was born in Balbirishuk, now Balbieriskis, Lithuania.  He arrived in Galveston, TX with is mother and older sister June 10, 1907 – the first year of the “Galveston Movement/Plan” which diverted immigrant Jews from the East Coast to the southwest US.

Paul’s father Sorach arrived earlier to Ellis Island in 1904, and it is in NYC that he apparently learned this song which his son then learned from him in Texas. According to Elton Lipnick the song was recorded sometime between 1962 – 1976. Paul spoke fluent Yiddish.

LipnickFotoThree generations of Lipnicks: Paul, his son Elton, and his grandson David (taken 1990 -1992).

The bracketed numbers in the transliteration correspond to the same lines in the original Zunser Yiddish text as found in The Works of Elyokum Zunser: A Critical Edition edited by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO 1964. By comparing the two, one can follow how this song was folklorized. This Yiddish text is attached, as is the music as found in Geklibene lider fun Eliyokum Zunser NY 1928.

According to Zunser’s biographer Sol Liptzin, he wrote “Columbus and Washington,” a song that lauds the American ideal of freedom and democracy, during his last days in Minsk and completed it on board the ship in 1889. Di Goldene Land was written in 1891 expresses his disappointment after just a couple of years in NYC.

On YouTube there is a more theatrical recording of this song by the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus, of New York from 2014, conducted by Binyumen Schaechter.

In Paul Lipnick’s performance the first few words are missing but have been added in brackets according to the printed version of Zunser’s songs. Though quite popular in its time, I have found no LP/CD version of this song. Followers of this blog will note the resemblance in the melody to an earlier posted Zunser song Rokhl mevakho a boneho.

Thanks to Dr. Melissa Weininger at Rice University for making the connection with Elton Lipnick and to Elton Lipnick for the tape, photo and biographical information.

TRANSLITERATION

 [Fun Amerike hob ikh]  als kind gehert [1]
ven tsvey fleygn redn banand.
Vi gliklekh me lebt af Columbus’ erd;
es iz dokh a goldene land.

Ikh bin ahingekumenת dem seyfer durkhgekukt [5]
fil trern, troyer, shteyt af yeder blat gedrukt.
In di enge gasn vu di mase shteyt gedikht,
fil oreme, fintsere; der umglik ligt zey afn gezikht.

Zey shteyen fun fri biz bay nakht [9]
di lipn farbrent un farshmakht.
Der iz mafkir zayn kind far a “sent”
dem varft men fun veynung far rent.

In shtub iz der dales dokh ful. [93]
Ot rayst men op kinder fun “skul.”
Zey blaybn fargrebt, on farshatnd,
un dos ruft men “a goldene land.”

In New Yorker downtown to git nor a blik [81]
vu di luft iz a “regeler” pest.
Men ligt in di tenements a kop oyf a kop
vi di hering in di barlekh geprest

Ver ken dos tsuzen dem tsar [89]
Vi kinderlekh shpringen fun kar
mit di newspapers ful in di hent.
vi zey farkiln zikh tsu fardinen a “sent.”

In shtub iz der dales dokh ful,
ot rayst men op kinder fun “skul”.
Zey blaybn fargrebt, on farshatnd,
un dos ruft men a “goldene land”.

Dem arbeters yor shvimt im arum[17]
in a taykh fun zayn eygenem shveys.
Er horevet in “bizi,” un hungert in “slek.”
Un iz shtendik in shrek mit zayn “plays”. [place]

Git eynem di mashine a ris.[29]
Ot blaybn di shteper on fis.
Der on a fus un der on a hant.
Un dos ruft men a “goldene land”.

Nor lebn, lebt dokh der gvir in ir. [97]
Er bazitst dokh a kenigraykh.
Vos in Europe a firsht iz in America a gvir.
Der makht iz fun beydn glaykh.

Es shat im keyn konkurentsi
zayn kapital iz greys. [103]
Er git a shpil a vaylinker
vern ale kleyner bald oys.

Vi groys iz zayn makht un zayn vort
Er hot dokh di deye in kort.
Iber im gilt nisht keyn shtand [111]
tsu im iz di goldene land.

TRANSLATION

[About America I ] had heard as a child
when two people conversed.
How lucky one lives on Columbus’ ground;
It is truly a Golden Land.

I arrived and read through this “holy book”.
Many tears, sorrow is printed on each page.
In the narrow streets where the masses are thick,
Poor, dark; bad fortune is seen on their faces.

They stand from morning to night.
The lips burnt and faint.
This one sacrifices his child for a cent,
That one gets thrown out of his flat because of rent.

The home is full of poverty.
Children are ripped out of school.
They remain ignorant, unintelligent,
and you call this “a Golden Land”

In downtown New York: take a look
where the air is regularly polluted.
The tenements are crowded with people,
like herrings squeezed in barrels.

Who could stand and watch this sorrow
as children jump from the car [trolley car]
with hands full of newspapers
as they catch cold to earn a cent.

The home is full of poverty.
Children are taken out of school.
They remain ignorant, unintelligent,
and you call this “a Golden Land”.

The worker’s year swims around him
in a river of his own sweat.
He labors when its busy, starves when its “slack” [no work]
And is always fearful of his “place” [place in line for work]

The machine gives someone a tear
leaving the leather workers with no legs.
This one has no foot, that one no hand
And this you call “a Golden Land”.

Yet there are the wealthy who live there,
he possesses an entire kingdom.
What in Europe was a prince, is in America a wealthy man;
the power of both is equal.

No competition can harm him;
his capital is large.
He plays with them awhile
and soon is rid of all the smaller ones.

How great is his power and his word.
He has the authority in his pocket.
No social position applies to him.
For him is this a “Golden Land.”

Goldene1goldene2

golden 3Goldene4Goldene5

ZunserLibson 1

Zunser Libson 2

Zunser Libson 3

“Shlof mayn feygele” (“Sleep My Little Bird”) Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

All of the previous recordings in this blog of the Bukovina singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] are from the 1954 recordings done by Leybl Kahn. But her daughter Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman recorded a few songs from her in the 1960s and early 1970s. This lullaby was recorded a few months before LSW died in 1973.

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Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her brother Luzer Gottesman. NYC ca. 1912

As usual, the transcription in English letters more accurately reflects her dialect than does the Yiddish transcription in the Yiddish alphabet in which we use standard Yiddish.

Spoken introduction by LSW: “Ikh fleyg dus zingen ven ikh bin nokh geveyn a kind mistame, finef, finef un zekhtsik yur tsurik. In dernokh hob eykh dus gezingen mane kinder. Kh’ob es gezingen Beyltsyen; Kh’ob es gezingen Mordkhen. Un hant vilt zikh es zingen…efsher veln mane eyniklekh es amul veln kenen.”

Shluf mayn feygele makh tsi dayn eygele.
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
Shluf mayn kroyndele, di bist a parshoyndele,
Shluf zhe, shluf lyu-lyu

Az di vest oyfshteyn fin deym zisn shluf
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
veln mir beyde geyn pasn di shuf.
Shluf zhe, shluf lyu-lyu

Oyf der khasene af daner, veln  file mener
tantsn zinenyu.
Mir veln geyn oyf di beler, tantsn in di zele*
Shluf zhe, shluf lyu-lyu.

*(German: säle)  the usual Yiddish plural of “zal”  – a large room, ballroom would be “zaln”.  LSW uses the more Germanic form, perhaps the local Yiddish Bukovina form, to rhyme. 

TRANSLATION

LSW spoken introduction:

“I used to sing this when I was still a child, probably about 65 years ago. Then I sang it for my children. I sang it for Beyltsye. I sang it for Mordkhe. And today I feel like singing it…perhaps my grandchildren will want to know it.”

Sleep my little bird, close your eye.
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
Sleep my little crown, you are someone special.
So sleep, sleep lyu-lyu

When you wake up from your sweet sleep
Hay-da-lyu-lyu-lyu
We will both go to tend to the sheep
So sleep, sleep lyu-lyu

At your wedding many men will
dance, my dear son.
We will to the balls and dance in the halls
So sleep, sleep -lyu-lyu
shlofmaynfeygele1

shlofmaynfeygele2

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.

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khad godye polish2

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]

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“Shluf mayn kind in a gliklekhn shluf” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2014 by yiddishsong

Shluf mayn kind in a gliklekhn shluf
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW)
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, NY, 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song smells, tastes and sounds like an Avrom Goldfaden (1840 – 1908) song from one of his plays, but I cannot find the original text yet. The sentimentality, the lament of the Jew in the Diaspora – all are in the style of the “father of the modern Yiddish theater”. Goldfaden had a talent for composing a memorable lullaby, as in Rozhinkes mit mandlen and as we see here. LSW sings this powerfully with her slow, emotional style.

schaechter familyChernovitz,Romania 1937: from left – Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, cousin Lusye (Gottesman) Buxbaum, brother Mordkhe Schaechter, mother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (Beyle’s mother), father Binyumin Schaechter, grandmother Taube Gottesman.

As usual, the transliteration reflects LSW’s Yiddish dialect more accurately than the words in Yiddish.

Shluf mayn kind in a gliklekhn shluf.
Shulf, inter mayn lid.
Di bist nokh tsi ying tsi erfiln dayn shtruf.
Derfar vayl di bist a yid.

Sleep my child, sleep happily.
Sleep under my song. 
You are still too young to complete (carry out) your punishment.
Because you are a Jew.

Shluf zhe kindele, shluf
di vest nokh derfiln dayn shtruf.
Shluf zhe kindele, shluf
di vest nokh derfiln dayn shtruf.

Sleep my little child sleep.
You will yet complete your punishment.
Sleep my little child, sleep.
You will yet complete your punishment.

Di vest geyn af der velt dayn broyt  fardinen.
Di vest geyn un vest vern mid.
Di vest farsheltn dem tug fin dayn geboyrn
Derfar vayl di trugst dem numen yid.

You will travel the world to earn your bread.
You will go and become tired.
You will curse the day of your birth,
Because you carry the name Jew.

Shluf zhe yingele, shluf
di vest nokh derfiln dayn shtruf.
Shluf zhe yingele, shluf
di vest nokh derfiln dayn shtruf.

Sleep my little boy sleep.
You will yet complete your punishment.
Sleep my little boy, sleep.
You will yet complete your punishment.

Oy libe mentshn ikh beyt aykh zeyer
tsu zingen dus lid, rifts mekh nit mer.
Vayl tsi zingen dus lid bin ikh shoyn mid.
Vayl ikh bin oykh a yid.

Oh dear people I beg of you,
if you want to sing this song, call me no longer.
Because I have grown tired of singing this song.
Because I too am a Jew.

Shluf zhe yingele shluf
di vest nokh derfiln dayn shtruf.
Shluf zhe yingele, shluf
di vest nokh derfiln dayn shtruf.

Sleep my little boy sleep.
You will yet complete your punishment.
Sleep my little boy, sleep. 
You will yet complete your punishment. 

shluf1shluf2shluf3

“Hayda-liu-liu” Performed by Mordkhe Schaechter

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Hayda-liu-liu” was performed by Mordkhe Schaechter in 1954 in New York and was recorded by Leybl Kahn.

Mordkhe Schaechter

Mordkhe Schaechter (1927 – 2007) was a well known Yiddish linguist, grammarian, writer, master teacher and Yiddishist. He was also my uncle, my mother‘s younger brother and was born and grew up in Chernovitz, Romania. Together with my parents and my grandmother, after the war, he lived in the Displaced Persons camp of the Rothschild Hospital in Vienna, 1947 -1950. My mother Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and Mordkhe collected folklore and historical materials among the Jews in the DP camp and sent them to YIVO in NYC. When Leybl Kahn, as a member of the I. L. Cahan Folklore Club, recorded Mordkhe‘s mother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman in NY in 1954,  Mordkhe took the opportunity at one session to record  for Kahn some of the children‘s folklore material he recorded in Vienna. This week is his fifth yortsayt so this blog entry is in his memory – click here to read his obituary in the New York Times.

This lullaby is popularly known in Hebrew as Numi, Numi, originally entitled ‟Shir Eres‟ [lullaby]. Many versions can be heard on Youtube such as this animated one:

Joel Engel (1868 – 1927) was the composer and Yekhil Halperin (or Heilperin) (1880 – 1942), the Hebrew lyricist. It is generally acknowledged that Engel used a Yiddish lullaby as the melody but I cannot find a recording nor a printed version of the Yiddish original. I am hoping the readers of the YSW blog will help me out on this one. The lyrics of Numi, Numi (Halperin‘s lyrics) are similar to what Schaechter sings – click here for the Hebrew words.

But since Halperin‘s words were put to Engel‘s melody in the 1920s, I am hesitant to write that Schaechter is singing the ‟original‟ Yiddish version. Perhaps enough time had passed so that Schaechter‘s version was already influenced by the Hebrew one?

Hayda-liu-liu kleyninker
Hayda-liuinku.
Hayda-liu-liu sheyninker
Hayda-liulinku.

Hayda-liu-liu my little one,
Hayda-liulinku.
Hayda-liu–liu my beautiful one,
Hayda-liulinku.

Der tate iz in vald avek,
in vald avek mayn kind.
A feygl vet er brengen dir,
A feygele mayn kind.

Hayda, liu-liu…..

Father has gone to the woods,
into the woods my child.
He will bring you a bird,
a little bird, my child.

Hayda-liu-liu…

Der tate iz in feld avek,
in feld avek mayn kind.
A bliml vet er brengen dir,
a blimele mayn kind.

Hayda-liu-liu.

Father has gone to the field,
to the field my child.
He will bring you a flower,
a little flower my child.

Hayda-liu-liu…