Archive for New York City

“S’hot mit indz geleybt a khaver” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2022 by yiddishsong

S’hot mit indz geleybt a khaver / A Comrade Lived Among Us.
A Soviet Yiddish song praising Stalin. Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG], recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx. 1990s.

Image: A Jewish Kolhoz in Crimea

Commentary on the song is below after the lyrics and translation. 

BSG spoken: 

Dos hob ikh gehert tsum ershtn mul in Chernovitz in tsayt fun di rusn.
I heard this for the first time in the time of the Russians.  [The Soviet occupation of Chernovitz was June 1940 – July 1941]

S’hot mit indz geleybt a khaver.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
S’iz geveyn a yat a, braver.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

A comrade lived among us.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
He was a brave lad.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Er fleygt kikn af di shtern.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
A kolvirt vet bay undz vern.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

He used to look up to the stars
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay.
We should build a kolvirt [farming collective].
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Fun di velder ungekimen.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
Hot er indz tsunoyf genimen.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

From the fields we came.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
He gathered us together
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Lomir trinken a lekhayim
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
far dem leybn, far dem nayem.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

[BSG indicates this verse can be sung at the end]

Let us make a toast
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
for the new life.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Far der oktober-revolutsye
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
in far Stalins konsitutsye
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

For the October Revolution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And for Stalin’s constitution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Far di kinder, [far] di zkeynem.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
In far alemen in eynem.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

For the children, for the old ones
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And for all of us together.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Zol der ershter kos zikh khvalyen.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
far indzer libn khaver _______ 

(BSG spits and says “yemakh shmoy” then continues) …Stalin.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Let the first drink swirl
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
for our dear comrade ______
[BSG spits and curses him “May his name be erased” then continues]
…Stalin.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Far der Oktober-revolutsye
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
in far Stalins konsitutsye.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

For the October Revolution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And for Stalin’s constitutution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

.ביילע רעדט: דאָס האָב איך געהערט צום ערשטן מאָל אין טשערנעוויץ אין צײַט פֿון די רוסן

ס’האָט מיט אונדז געלעבט אַ חבֿר
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
ס’איז געווען אַ יאַט אַ בראַווער
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

ער פֿלעגט קוקן אויף די שטערן
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
אַ קאָלווירט זאָל בײַ אונדז ווערן
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿון די וועלדער אָנגעקומען 
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.האָט ער אונדז צונויפֿגענומען
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

לאָמיר טרינקען אַ לחיים
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.פֿאַר דעם לעבן, פֿאַר דעם נײַעם
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿאַר דער אָקטאָבער־רעוואָלוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.און פֿאַר סטאַלינס קאָנסטיטוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿאַר די קינדער, [פֿאַר] די זקנים
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.און פֿאַר אַלעמען אין איינעם
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

זאָל דער ערשטער כּוס זיך כוואַליען
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
פֿאַר אונדזער ליבן חבֿר ____
[ביילע שפּײַט אויס און זאָגט ‘מח־שמו’]
…סטאַלין
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿאַר דער אָקטאָבער־רעוואָלוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.און פֿאַר סטאַלינס קאָנסטיטוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

BSG was reading from a notebook of Yiddish songs that she wrote down in Vienna in the Displaced Persons camp (1947- 1950). You can hear my voice helping her read some of the lines. 

It seems that this song started out as a Hasidic nign (כּיצד מרקדי   Ketzad merakdin); 

Here is an instrumental version of the Hasidic tune from the album “Chassidic Authentic Wedding Dances (Galton D-5935):

Then the melody was used for a Soviet Yiddish song praising Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s, probably made popular by the 1938 recording of the Soviet Yiddish singer Zinoviy Shulman (1904 – 1977) .

The text version praising Stalin as was printed in the collection Yidishe folks-lider, edited by Y. Dobrushn and A. Yuditsky, Moscow 1940, p. 425

Here is an image of that version:

       In the 1950s, after the death of Stalin (1953), the song made its way into the leftist 1956 American Yiddish songbook Lomir ale zingen / Let’s Sing (Jewish Music Alliance, NY)  but dropped any mention of Stalin, of his constitution and of the October revolution. It was called “S’hot mit undz gelebt a khaver”.

A rousing version of the song entited L’chayim Stalin and based on the Shulman recording was recently recorded by Dan Kahn and Psoy Korolenko, including the references to Stalin on their album The Third Unternationale (2020):

Special thanks this week to Benjamin Ginzburg, Arun Vishwanath, Psoy Korolenko and Dan Kahn. 

“Ikh hob ongehoybn shpiln a libe” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2022 by yiddishsong

Ikh hob ongehoybn shpiln a libe / I Began a Romance
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954, New York City

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her son, the linguist Mordkhe Schaechter.  1930s, Chernovitz, Romania.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

Another lyrical love song from the repertoire of LSW. The wonderful rhyme “blote” (mud, mire) and “akhote” (desire, enthusiasm) is rare but can be found in I. L. Cahan’s collection (YIVO, 1957, page 183),  in a similar verse but different melody. Also noteworthy is the curse that the girl wishes upon her boyfriend – may he become a beggar and at every door, may they say “You were here already”.  In today’s slang we would say – “We gave at the office.”

Ikh hob ongehoybn shpiln a libe
Mit groys kheyshik in mit akhote.
Mit groys kheyshik in mit akhote.
Arupgefirt hot dus mekh fun deym glaykhn veyg.
Arayngefirt in a tifer blote.

I began a romance
with great desire and with enthusiasm.
With great desire and with enthusiasm.
It led me astray off the straight path.
And led me into a deep mire.
It led me astray off the straight path.
And led me into a deep mire.

Ikh vel dir koyfn, mayn tayer, zis leybn
a goldenem zeyger mit a vazer. [vayzer]
A goldenem zeyger mit a vazer.
Der vos hot undz beyde tsesheydt,
er zol geyn in di hayzer. 

I will buy you, my dear, sweet one,
a golden clock with a clock hand.
A golden clock with a clock hand.
He who split us apart
should go begging among the houses.

In di hayzer zol er geyn.
Bay yeyder tir zol er blaybn shteyn.
Bay yeyder tir zol er blaybn shteyn
Un yeyder zol im dus zugn:
“Ba mir bisti shoyn geveyn.”
Un yeyder zol im dus zugn:
“Ba mir bisti shoyn geveyn.”

May he go begging among the houses and
at every door should he stop.
At every door should he stop.
And everyone should say to him
“You have already been here.”
And everyone should say to him
“You have already been here.”

איך האָב אָנגעהויבן שפּילן אַ ליבע
.מיט גרויס חשק און מיט אַכאָטע
.מיט גרויס חשק און מיט אַכאָטע
.אַראָפּגעפֿירט האָט דאָס מיך פֿון דעם גלײַכן וועג
.אַרײַנגעפֿירט אין אַ טיפֿער בלאָטע

.איך וועל דיר קויפֿן, מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן
.אַ גאָלדענעם זייגער מיט אַ ווײַזער
.אַ גאָלדענעם זייגער מיט אַ ווײַזער
,דער וואָס האָט אונדז ביידע צעשיידט
.ער זאָל גיין אין די הײַזער

.אין די הײַזער זאָל ער גיין
.בײַ יעדער טיר זאָל ער בלײַבן שטיין
.בײַ יעדער טיר זאָל ער בלײַבן שטיין
 :און יעדער זאָל אים דאָס זאָגן
„.בײַ מיר ביסטו שוין געווען”
:און יעדער זאָל אים דאָס זאָגן
„.בײַ מיר ביסטו שוין געווען”

“Di shteytishe meydelekh” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2022 by yiddishsong

Di shteytishe meydelekh [kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd]
The City Girls (I Was Born a Country Girl)

Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. Recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Jewish girl from village outside of Zagreb, courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Di shteytishe meydalekh geyen shpatsirn
Zey geyen geuremt mit sheyne kavelirn.
In der puder aleyn
Er makht zey di bekelekh sheyn.

The city girls go for a walk.
They’re arm in arm with handsome suitors.
And just the powder
makes their cheeks pretty.

Ikh veyn in klug. Ikh ver nisht mid.
Keyner hert mayn veynen nit.
Of mir iz nebekh a noyt.
Kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

I cry and lament. I don’t get tired.
No one hears my weeping.
I have, alas, a fault:
I was born a country [village] girl.

Di shteytishe meydelekh trugn zikh net.
Zey libn nisht keyn yidn; nor ales kadet.
Nor af mir, iz nebekh aza noyt.
Kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

The city girls are so elegant.
They don’t love Jews, only cadets.
But alas, I have a fault –
I was born a country girl.

Ikh veyn in klug, Ikh ver nisht mid.
Keyner hert mayn veynen nit.
Oyf mir iz aza noyt.
Ikh bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

I cry and lament. I do not tire.
No one hears my weeping.
I have, alas, this fault –
I was born a country girl.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

I could not find this song in any collection and it is not found in the play “Dos dorfs meydl” by Perlmutter and Wohl. It is probably from an old Yiddish musical play but whether the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman learned it growing up in Bukovina, or in NYC when she was living there from 1908 to 1914 is not clear (she went back to Europe in 1914, and did not return to live in the US until 1951).

די שטעטישע מיידלעך
איך בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿמויד

געזונגען פֿון ליפֿשע שעכטער־ווידמאַן

.די שטעטישע מיידעלעך גייען שפּאַצירן
.זיי גייען געאָרעמט מיט שיינע קאַוואַלירן
,און דער פּודער אַליין
.ער מאַכט זיי די בעקעלעך שיי

.איך וויין און קלאָג; איך ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמויד

.די שטעטישע מיידעלעך טראָגן זיך נעט
.זיי ליבן נישט קיין ייִדן, נאַר אַלעס קאַדעט
.נאָר אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַזאַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמו

.איך וויין און קלאָג, אן ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמוי

.איך וויין און קלאָג, איך ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז אַזאַ נויט
.איך בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמויד

“Za górami, za lasami/Inter di berglekh” Performed by Sara Rosen

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2022 by yiddishsong

Za górami, za lasami / Inter di berglekh
A Macaronic Polish Yiddish dance song sung by Sara Rosen. Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1989. NYC photo.

Dancing a Polka
Spelled in PolishEnglish translation
Za górami, za lasami, Tańcowała Małgorzatka z Góralami. Tańcowała Małgorzatka z Góralami.
Przyszedł ojciec, przyszła matka, Chodź do domu, chodź do domu, Małgorzatka! Chodź do domu, chodź do domu, Małgorzatka!
Ja nie pójdę. Idźcie sami! Ja tu będę tańcowała z Góralami. Ja tu będę tańcowała z Góralami.
I nie poszła.  I została.Tańcowała z Góralami. Aż do rana. Tańcowała z Góralami Aż do rana.
Over, beyond mountains and forests, Margaret danced with the Highlanders (click here info on Polish Highlanders).
Father came, and mother came. Come home, Margaret!
I won’t go. Go by yourselves! I’ll dance here with the Highlanders.
And she didn’t go. Instead she stayed. She danced until dawn with the Highlanders.

Yiddish words:
(H)Inter di berglekh, (H) inter di felde
hot getantsn Malke-Zlata mit di zelners.

[talks]

Behind the hills, behind the fields,
danced Malke-Zlata with the soldiers

Gekimen di mame, gekimen der tate
“Kim ahaym, kim ahaym Malke-Zlate”

Her mother came, her father came,
“Come home, come home, Malke-Zlate”

“Ikh vil nisht gayn, gayts aleyn.
Ikh vil du tantsn, ikh vil du hotsken mit Dragayn.”

“I don’t want to go, go by yourselves.
I want to dance, i want to with the Dragoons.”

Iz zi nisht geganen, iz es geblibn. 
Z’hot getantsn, z’hot gehotsket biz a zeyer zibn. 

So she didn’t go and it stayed the same.
She danced and shook till seven o’clock. 

הינטער די בערגלעך, הינטער די פֿעלדער
.האָט געטאַנצן מלכּה־זלאַטע מיט די זעלנערס
,געקומען די מאַמע, געקומען דער טאַטע
„.קום אַהיים, קום אַהיים מלכּה־זלאַטע”
„איך וויל נישט גיין, גייט אַליין”
“.איך וויל דאָ טאַנצן, איך וויל דאָ האָצקען מיט דראַגײַן”
.איז זי נישט געגאַנגען, איז עס געבליבן
.ז’האָט געטאַנצן, ז’האָט געהאָצקעט ביז אַ זייגער זיבן

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The old Polish folksong “Małgorzatka” also known as ” Za górami” is well known. Less known is this macaronic version with Polish and Yiddish. Sara Rosen, born in Krakow, sings it in a polka rhythm. According to Polish music websites, the song in Polish has roots going back to the 16th century and might have started out as a beggar’s song. A Polish website with many versions in Polish can be found here, and additional information on the song is at this Polish website.

Gila Flam, director of the Music Department of the Jewish National and University Library, recorded a Lodz ghetto adaptation written in Polish by Miriam Harel. She discusses the song in her work Singing for Survival: Songs of the Lodz Ghetto 1940-1945, pages 121-22. Here is the recording:

Thanks to: Polish singer and researcher Mariza Nawrocka for information and the links to the Polish song; to Gila Flam for her recording; to Paula Teitelbaum who printed the words in Polish and the translation from the Polish. Also thanks to Karolina Koprowska. 

“Ikh bin a blekher” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2022 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a blekher / I am a Roofer (Tinsmith)
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn NY 1954

ikh bin a blekher                                        I am a roofer (tinsmith)
Ekh krikh af ale dekher                              I crawl on all the roofs.
A kestl blekh arifgetrugn,                          I carried up a box of tin.
ungeklopt in ungeshlugn.                Banged and hammered in.     
Ekh bin oysgefurn a velt.                 I’ve traveled around the world.
ikh hob nisht keyn groshn gelt.               I don’t have one penny.  

Spoken (by her son Mordkhe Schaechter):
S’iz a kinderlidl.
It’s a children’s song.

.איך בין אַ בלעכער
.איך קריך אויף אַלע דעכער
,אַ קעסטל בלעך אַרויפֿגעטראָגן
.אָנגעקלאַפּט און אָנגעשלאָגן
.איך בין אויסגעפֿאָרן אַ וועלט
.איך האָב נישט קיין גראָשן געלט
(גערעדט פֿון מרדכי שעכטער)  „ס’איז אַ קינדערליד”

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In the Yiddish dictionaries “blekher” is translated as “tinsmith”, but the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) uses the word, and not just in this song, to also mean “roofer”, fixing roofs made of tin. Children’s songs that mock the poverty of the tradesman abound in Yiddish and LSW also sang a song about a cobbler with no shoes for himself (“Ikh bin a shisterl”).

“Dus beymele shteyt in vald” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dus beymele shteyt in vald / The tree stands in the woods
A folklorized version of the Goldfaden song, “Elnt fun ale beymer vayt” sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. Recorded by Leybl Kahn, New York City, 1954.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN
This is a folklorized version of the song “Elnt fun ale beymer vayt” from the Goldfaden operetta “Di kishifmakherin” also known as “Koldunye” (the witch), first performed in 1878.  It is sung by the young girl Mirele in the second act, first scene. A scan of the original Yiddish is attached from a New York edition of the play. 

The song presents an interesting case of folklorization, turning a theater song into a Yiddish orphan song, though with a hopeful ending which is atypical of Yiddish orphan songs. I have kept the false start and brief discussion afterwards with Leybl Kahn in which LSW says this song was learned in her hometown Zvinyetshke (now Ukraine).

Another folklorized version of this Goldfaden song was published in the second volume, Skuditski Folklor-lider, Moscow, 1936, p. 312, #52 (see screen shots attached below). There the song is extended with two new verses and keeps much more of the Goldfaden text than LSW’s.

Click here to listen to Frank Seiden singing a version of the original Goldfaden song, 1901, and click here to see the sheet music from the Library of Congress archive.

Dus beymele shteyt in vald
[False start]
Dus beymele shteyt in vald,
dus beymeledus beymele elnt, aleyn.
Azoy ikh nebekh yesoymele
In velt drey ekh mekh arim aleyn. 
Azoy ikh nebekh yesoymele
Drey zikh af der velt arim aleyn. 

The tree stands in the woods,
the tree, the tree all alone.
So I, alas, poor orphan,
Drift around this world alone

Dus beymele triknt ayn
in di bleter faln up.
 Zey faln gants arup. 
Azoy faln mayne trern. 
tse der naser erd arup, oy, arup. 
Azoy faln mayne trern. 
Tse der naser erd arup.

The tree dries up
and the leaves fall off.
They fall off completely.
So fall my tears to the wet ground.

Veyn nit in klug nit, yesoymele,
yesoymele, elnt, aleyn.
Es vet nokh blien dus beymele,
Dayn glikele vet nokh kimen tsi geyn.
Es vet nokh blien dus beymele,
Dayn glik vet nokh kimen tsu geyn.

Don’t cry and lament, dear orphan,
Orphan, alone and lonely.
The tree will once more blossom;
Your good fortune will return.


דאָס ביימעלע שטייט אין וואַלד,
דאָס ביימעלע, עלנט, אַליין
.אַזוי איך נעבעך יתומעלע
אין וועלט דריי איך מיך אַרום אַליין
.אַזוי איך נעבעל יתומעלע,
דריי זיך אויף דער וועלט אַרום אַליין.

דאָס ביימעלע טריקנט אײַן
און די בלעטער פֿאַלֹן אָפּ.
זיי פֿאַלן גאַנץ אַראָפּ.
אַזוי פֿאַלן מײַנע טרערן
צו דער נאַסער ערד אַראָפּ, אוי אַראָפּ.
אַזוי פֿאַלן מײַנע טרערןצו דער נאַסער ערד אַראָפּ.

וויין ניט און קלאָג ניט, יתומעלע,
יתומעלע, עלנט, אַליין
.עס וועט נאָך בליִען דאָס ביימעלע.
דײַן גליקעלע וועט נאָך קומען צו גיין.
עס וועט נאָך בליִען דאָס ביימעלע.
דײַן גליק וועט נאָך קומען צו גיין

From the New York edition of Goldfaden’s “Di kishifmakherin”:

Skuditski Folklor-lider, Moscow, 1936, p. 312, #52

Sheet music (from the Library of Congress, click here for LOC website):

“Ikh bin oysgefurn di gantse velt” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2021 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin oysgefurn di gantse velt / I Traveled the Whole World Over
A love song from the 19th century sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW]
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

TRANSLITERATION

LSW speaks: Fin mayn mamen a folkslid; dus iz shoyn…  Ekh hob ekh es gehert mit 60 yur.

Ikh bin oysgefurn a gantse velt.
Ikh ho’ gemeynt ikh vel eraykhn [erreichen]
dus greste glik.
Tse dir, tse dir mayn tayer zis leybm.
Tse dir hot mekh getsoygn tsurik.
Tse dir, tse dir mayn tayer zis leybm.
Tse dir hot mekh getsoygn tsurik.

Vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh libn, vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh ern.
Vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh gants farshteyn?
Az di heyse libe, vus hot getin brenen,
Iz geloshn gevorn mit mayn geveyn.
Az di heyse libe vus hot getin brenen,
Iz geloshn gevorn mit mayn geveyn.

[alternate second verse as remembered by her daughter Beyle Schaechter Gottesman]]

Vi ken ikh dikh libn, vi ken ikh dikh shetshn
Vi ken ikh dekh den ern?
Az di heyse libe vus hot getin brenen,
Is ousgeloshn mit mayne trern]

TRANSLATION

LSW speaks: A folksong from my mother. I heard it 60 years ago.

I traveled the whole world over,
I thought I would attain the happiest joy.
To you, to you, my dear, sweet love [literally: life]
To you, I was drawn to return.
To you, to you, my dear, sweet love
To you, I was drawn to return.

How can I love you? How can I honor you,
How can I understand you completely,
when the passionate love that burned
was extinguished with my tears.

[alternate 2nd verse]

How can I love you, how can I appreciate you,
How can I honor you?
when the passionate love that burned
was extinguished with my tears.

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her grandchildren, Itzik and Hyam Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have not found any variants of this beautiful lovesong that LSW remembers from the 1890s. She says that her mother Tobe knew about 30 songs but once Tobe’s husband died young, she was not in the mood to sing. But when Lifshe heard her singing a tune to herself, she asked her to sing it to her.

.ליפֿשע רעדט:  אַ פֿאָלקסליד פֿון דער מאַמען. איך האָב עס געהערט מיט 69 יאָר

.איך בין אויסגעפֿאָרן אַ גאַנצע וועלט
.איך האָב געמיינט איך וועל ערײַכן דאָס גרויסע גליק
.צו דיר, צו דיר מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן
.צו דיר, האָט מיך געצויגן צוריק

?ווי קען איך דיך ליבן, ווי קען איך דיק ערן
?ווי קען איך דיך גאַנץ פֿאַרשטיין
אַז די הייסע ליבע וואָס האָט געטין ברענען
.איד געלאָשן געוואָרן מיט מײַן געוויין.

ליפֿשעס טאָכטער, ביילע שעכטער־גאָטעסמאַן האָט געדענקט אַן אַנדער צווייטע סטראָפֿע ־ 
?ווי קען איך דיך ליבן, ווי קען איך די שעצן
?ווי קען איך דיך דען ערן
,אַז די הייסע ליבע וואָס האָט געטין ברענען
.איז אויסגעלאָשן מיט מײַנע טרערן

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman Performs “Ale meydelekh hobn khasene”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2021 by yiddishsong

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene / All the Girls are Getting Married
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

TRANSLITERATION 

LSW’s son, Mordkhe Schaechter, introduces the song: “Nokh a kinderlid” – “Another children’s song.”

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene,
Eykh blab aleyn.
Oy, mame, s’iz avade
nit sheyn.

Tate, gey afn ben-zukher,
un kloyb mir oys a bukher.
Ale meydelekh hobn khasene.
Un eykh blab aleyn. 

TRANSLATION

All the girls are getting married.
I remain alone.
Oy, mame, of course
it’s not nice.

Father, go to the ben-zokher
and pick out a groom for me. 
All the girls are getting married.
And I remain alone. 

,אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.איך בלײַב אַליין
אוי, מאַמע, ס’איז אַוודאי
.ניט שיין

 טאַטע, גיי אויפֿן בן־זכר
.און קלויב מיר אויס אַ בחור
.אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.און איך בלײַב אַליין

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman 

The third line of this short children’s song was difficult to understand, but thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski, I believe we have the complete correct version. 

A ben-zokher (“zukher” in LSW’s dialect) is a ritual on the Friday night following the birth of a boy. At the home of the new born, the parents serve guests and relatives wine and fruit. The phrase “ben zokher” is from Jeremiah 20:15. See Hayyim Schauss’ description of the tradition in his work The Lifetime of a Jew.

“Wedding” by Issachar Ber Ryback, c. 1930

Niborski also found the ben-zokher – bokher rhyme in two other sources. One in a children’s song that Ruth Rubin sings, “Tate, tate, gey afn ben-zukher”, as heard at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. The second he found in the essay by I. L. Peretz “Dos yidishe lebn loytn yidishn folkslid” (“Jewish Life as Depicted in Yiddish Folksong”)

Special thanks to Eliezer Niborski and the Ruth Rubin Archive at the YIVO Sound Archive. 

“Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2021 by yiddishsong

Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint / Fare thee well, fare thee well.
A version of “Di goldene pave”, sung by Lifshe Schaecter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is LSW’s version of the old and popular song more commonly called “Di gildene/goldene pave”, the “Golden Peacock”. It seems that the song gave rise to the golden peacock as a symbol referring to Yiddish folksong and Yiddish artistic creativity in general. 

Illustration by Shirley Knoring

The peacock, needless to say, has been a cross-cultural symbol for millenia. On her blog “Jewish Folk Songs” Batya Fonda discusses the various interpretations of the golden peacock and has transcribed and translated into English a couple of versions of the Yiddish folksong.

In YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive collection, Mary Michaels sings a version, recorded in 1956. Click here to listen.

More recently, Ruth Levin, accompanied by Alexei Belousov on guitar sings it on her recording Atlandish (2019):

LSW’s version makes no mention of the gildene pave, but a bird does remain as the central character along with the unhappy daughter/daughter-in-law. The line about having one hand appears in no other versions, and seems to me to be improvised at the moment of performance. The verses about “shver un shviger’s kest” and “a shlekhtn man” appear in all versions. 

Interestingly, Moshe Beregovski pointed out the similarity of the melody of the song’s first line to a Ukrainian song (Old Jewish Folk Music, Slobin, p. 514) But LSW starts off the song with a different melody than other versions. 

 The song is included in many collections: to name a few with musical notation: Yidishe folks-lider, Beregovski and Fefer, 276-77; Die Schonsten Lieder Der OstJuden, Kaufmann, 80-81; Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, vol. 9, Idelsohn, #33, page 12; Jewish Folksongs from the Baltics, Karnes, p. 20-21; Mir trogn a gezang, Mlotek, 106-107.Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, Mlotek and Slobin, p. 45-46.; just text – Yidishe folkslider in rusland, Ginzburg and Marek, #264-265, p. 215 – 217

—————————————————

Zay zhe mir gezint
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint
mayn tayere mame,
Ekh fur fin dir avek
Say es vet mir git zayn, say es vet mir
shlekht zayn
Kimen vel ekh mer nisht tsirik. 
Say es vet mir git zayn, say es vet mir
shlekht zayn
Kimen vel ekh mer nisht tsirik. 

Farewell, farewell, my dear mother.
I am going away.
Whether it will be good, whether it will be bad
I will not be coming back.

Azoy vi s’iz biter mayn mame, miter
A feygele oyf deym yam. 
A feygele oyf deym yam.
Azoy i’ dekh biter, mayn mame, miter,
az me hot a shlekhtn man.

Just as it is bitter mother dear,
for a bird over the sea,
so it is bitter mother dear
to have a cruel husband.

Azoy vi s’iz biter, mayn tayere miter,
a feygele in a fremd land.
a feygele in a fremd land.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
az m’ot nor eyn hant.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
az men hot nor eyn hant.

Just as it’s bitter dear mother
for a bird in a strange land,
so it is bitter mother dear,
when you have just one hand.

Azoy vi s’iz biter mayn tayere miter
a feygele un a neyst.
a feygele un a neyst.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
shver un shvigers kest.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
shver un shvigers kest.

Just as it’s bitter my dear mother
a bird without a nest,
so it is bitter my dear mother
to live with my in-laws. 

Zay mir gezint mayn tayere mame,
ikh fur fun dir avek. 
Say es vet mir git zayn,
say es vet mir shlekht zayn. 
ikh vel nit kimen tsirik.
Say es vet mir git zayn,
say es vet mir shlekht zayn. 
Ikh kim nit mer tsurik. 

Farewell, farewell my dear mother,
I am going away.
Whether it will go well for me, 
or go poorly,
I will not be coming back. 

,זײַ זשע מיר געזונט, זײַ זשע מיר געזונט
.מײַן טײַערע מאַמע, איך פֿאָר פֿון דיר אַוועק
,סײַ עס וועט מיר גוט גיין
,סײַ עס וועט מיר שלעכט גיין
.קומען וועל איך מער נישט צוריק

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַ פֿייגעלע אויף דעם ים, אַ פֿייגעלע אויף דעם ים
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַז מע האָט אַ שלעכטן מאַן

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
,אַ פֿייגעלע אין אַ פֿרעמד לאַנד
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַז מע האָט נאָר איין האַנט

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
,אַ פֿייגעלע אָן אַ נעסט
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.שווער און שוויגערס קעסט

. מען האָט נאָר איין האַנט

,זײַ זשע מיר געזונט, זײַ זשע מיר געזונט
.מײַן טײַערע מאַמע, איך פֿאָר פֿון דיר אַוועק
,סײַ עס וועט מיר גוט גיין
,סײַ עס וועט מיר שלעכט גיין
.קומען וועל איך מער נישט צוריק

“Kinder kumt der friling ruft” Performed by Harry Mervis

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinder kumt der friling ruft / Children come, Spring calls
Sung by Harry Mervis, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979. From the Jewish Museum of Maryland collection.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman and Peter Rushefsky

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Kinder kumt as sung by Harry Mervis. 

Kinder kumt, der friling ruft
Blo der himl, klor di luft.
Shmekn zis di frishe blumen
un di taykhlekh freylekh brumen.
Leyft [loyft] in frayen feld.

Children come, Spring calls.
Blue the sky, clear the air.
Smell the fresh flowers
and the rivers gaily roar.

Hert, di feygelekh zingen,
flien heykh [hoykh] un klingen,
Helft zey, kinderlekh, shpringen.
Leyft in frayen feld. 

Listen to the birds sing,
flying high and resound.
Help them, children, to jump.
Run in the open field.

Kinder yetst iz ayer tsayt,
S’iz sheyn bald nor gor nit vayt.  
Er makht gel di grine bleter
Er makht di zise bleter,  
azoy on a sof.          

Children now is your time.
It is soon not far. 
He makes the green leaves yellow. 
He makes the sweet leaves.
Thus without end.   

Kinder aylt zikh unter,
Zayt zikh freylekh, munter.
Vayl der langer vinter
varft af alemen a shlof.

Children hurry yourselves.
Be happy and brave
because the long winter
throws on everyone a slumber.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

The lyrics to the song are by Mordkhe Rivesman (1868 – 1924), the same author of such songs as “Haynt is Purim Brider” and “Khanike Oy Khanike”.  the melody is almost always referred to as “a folk melody”. The first printing of the song that I have found is in Z. Kisselgof’s  collectin Lider-zamlbukh far der yidisher shul un familye, 1912There it is called “Kinder kumt der friling ruft”. It was also called “Likhik iz Gots velt”. Yiddish music archivist Robert Freedman remembers singing this song in his Chaim Nakhman Bialik Folk Shul and from memoirs it is clear that the song was also popular in Zionist circles in Eastern Europe. 

Recently singer, composer and choir director Polina Shepherd has revived the song. She newly arranged and recorded the song with her London Yiddish Choir and Chutzpah choir. Here is a link to that performance.

Shepherd also printed the music and original words at this link.

The song was translated into Hebrew by the Israeli Yiddish scholar Dov Sadan and can be found at this link in the website Zemereshet. זמרשת

The original lyrics by Rivesman in Yiddish has been scanned form  Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912 and are attached below.

We know of one recording of the song on the album Ilamay Handel Sings Portraits of Jewish Live in Song.

COMMENTARY ON THE MUSIC BY PETE RUSHEFSKY

The song uses a variant of a Hasidic-flavored melody recorded by Belf’s Romanian Ensemble for the Syrena record label as “Nakhes fun Kinder”. The melody was also recorded as part of a suite by the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia-based Lepiyansky Family of tsimbl (dulcimer) players and released on the Soviet MusTrust label.

Let’s take a closer look at the Belf version, which presents this beautiful melody in its fully-rendered form. The instrumental version of the piece is best known for its syncopated melodic gesture beginning with a rest on the first beat (a rhythmic device seen in many Hasidic nigunim):

However, the song version from Rivesman simplifies the melody, substituting four quarter notes for the first measure.

Composed in the freygish/Ahava Raba scale, the first section sets up the mode by emphasizing the first and then third degrees, repeating the phrases to create a sense of gravity. The second section switches to a call-and-response form to expand the melodic range to the fourth and fifth degrees, and hints at what will come in the final section with a quick reach up to the octave. Finally the third section lifts the melody to its climax (known in Arabic music as the “awj”) with three beats on the octave, initiating a lovely four-part walk down the freygish scale that continues into the mode’s subtonic range before resolving back up to the tonic.

There is an interesting difference between the Mervis version and the better-known version that Shepherd’s choir performs. The second section of Mervis’s version of “Kinder kumt” (starting with “Hert, di feygelekh zingen”) is reminiscent of the second section of the Belf “Nakhes fun Kinder”. In contrast, the second section of Shepherd jumps immediately up the octave like the third section of Belf. Perhaps Mervis (or whomever he learned his version from) was aware of the full melody ala Belf, and chose to sing it this way. Or possibly the variant is a result of confusion between the two melodies.

As I was contributing to this post, the wonderful Yiddish singer Eleonore Weill happened to be over giving my son Gabriel his weekly piano lesson. She graciously agreed to record herself performing the song on my iPhone (recorded April 6, 2021 in Brooklyn):

Lyrics by Rivesman published in Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912: