Archive for Quebec

“Of di grine felder/Dos fertsnte yor” – Two Performances

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2020 by yiddishsong

Of di grine felder/Dos fertsnte yor / On the green fields/The Year 1914

This week we are presenting two performances of this song:

1) Sara Nomberg-Przytyk (recorded by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986):

2) Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG), Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) and Jonas Gottesman (recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, 1954):

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Though we have chosen to feature two versions of the song that begin “Of di grine felder, velder”, the song is also commonly known as “Dos 14te yor” with variants that begin with “Dos 14te yor is ongekumen, oy vey” (“The 14th Year Has Arrived”). Among the singers who have recorded versions of this song: Sidor Belarsky, Majer Bogdanski, Leibu Levin and more recently Michael Alpert, “Psoy and the Israelifts” and Lorin Sklamberg/ Susan McKeown.

Michael Alpert’s a capella version of the song can be heard here. Plus, below is a contemporary interpretation of the song by Psoy and the Israelifts titled “1914” found on YouTube:

In YIVO’s Ruth Rubin’s Archive there are field recordings by Martn Birnbaum, Chinke Asher and Hannah Rosenberg. In the volume Old Jewish Folk Music: The Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovsky (Mark Slobin, U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982; Syracuse University Press, 2000) there are 7 versions with melodies!

The song became very popular over a wide area of Eastern Europe during and after the first world war. So popular that it was recalled with amusement in a chapter in B. Kuczerer’s [קוטשער] Yiddish memoirs of Warsaw Geven a mol varshe, (Paris, 1955). He begins the chapter on the 1914 German occupation of Warsaw in this way:

“The 14th year has arrived – oy vey!

And soon it [the song] enveloped everyone and everything as if by magic… Day and night. Wherever you go, wherever you stand. In every street, in every courtyard, in every corner.

Who sang it loudly to arouse pity. Who sang it quietly, for oneself, to get it off your chest. And everywhere the same song. Everywhere the same melody, the same moan, the same tears.

‘The 14th year has arrived – oy vey!'”  (p. 59)

But some versions of the song are about later years. In the Sofia Magid collection Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin, Basya Fayler sings about the “Dos akhtsnte yor” (“The18th year” p. 277 – 79). The linguist Prof. Moshe Taube remembers his father singing this song about “Dos 19te yor” referring to the Polish violence against Jews at that time (oral communication).

THE UKRAINIAN CONNECTION

This song can ultimately can be traced back to a Ukrainian song of the 1830s. In a review of a lecture by the Polish folklorist Jan Byston written by Max Weinreich, published in Yidishe filologye heft. 2/3, March-June, 1924, Weinreich refers to the first publication of this Yiddish song in the periodical Der Jude (n.1-2, April-May 1917 p. 123-124) in which the collector Anshl (Anselm) Kleynman remembers how in the trenches of 1914-1915 some Ukrainian soldiers sang their version, and Jewish soldiers heard it, translated it and it spread from there. In this lecture that Weinreich attended, Bystron pointed out that the song in Ukrainian was sung as far back as 1833.

Prof. Robert Rothstein found two versions of the Ukrainian song from 1834. He writes: “One stanza was found among Aleksander Pushkin’s papers, written on the back of a letter from Nikolai Gogol. Pushkin died in 1837.” He adds “It’s also known as Чорна рілля ізорана (Chorna rillia izorana – The Black Farm Field Has Been Dug Up). The reference is to the chornozem, the rich black soil of Ukraine.” [communication via email]

Inspired by the song, the Polish folk/death metal band Kryvoda uses a stark image of a crow on a dead soldier for their 2014 album entitled “Kruki”. Below you can hear their performance of Чорна рілля [“Chorna rillia”]:

The website “Yidlid.org” has written out a long version of the words in Yiddish, transliterated Yiddish, French and English and included the melody from Belarsky’s book

Longer versions can also be found in Shloyme Bastomski’s Yiddish folksong collection Baym kval pages 132-133 and Immanuel Olsvanger’s Rosinkess mit mandlen, 1920, pp. 259-261.

A note on the LSW/BSG version of “Oyf di grine felder, velder”: This is the only recording I have found which features my father, Jonas Gottesman (1914 – 1995), a physician born in Siret, Romania, singing along with Lifshe, his mother-in-law, and wife Beyle. He was a wonderful baritone singer and was the only one in the family who could harmonize, as can be heard on this recording.

Special thanks with help for this post to Wolf Krakowsky, Eliezer Niborski and Prof. Robert Rothstein.

TRANSLITERATION OF NOMBERG-PRZYTYK’s VERSION (Translation is on the video)

Of di grine felder un velder, oy vay, oy vay.
Of di grine felder un velder
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay

Shvartse foygl kimen tsi flien oy vay, oy vay.
kumt tsu flien a shvartser foygl
un dlubet im oys di bayde oygn, oy vay, oy vay
dlubet im oys di bayde oygn, oy vay, oy vay.

Ver vet nukh im kadish zugn oy vay, oy vay
Ver vet nukh im kadish zugn?
Ver vet nukh im vaynen un klugn oy vay, oy vay
Ver vet nukh im vaynen un klugn oy vay, oy vay

Of di grine felder un velder, oy vay, oy vay.
Of di grine felder un velder
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay

TRANSLITERATION and TRANSLATION OF LSW/BSG/JG VERSION

Of di grine, felder velder, vey, vey
Of di grine, felder velder,
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner, vey, vey,
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner, vey, vey.

On the green fields, woods, vey, vey!
On the green fields, woods
Lays covered with bullets a soldier, vey, vey
Lays covered with bullets a soldier, vey, vey

Kim tse flien shvartser foygl, vey, vey
kim tse flien shvartser foygl,
dzhibet oys bay im di oygn, oy vey.
dzhibet oys bay im di oygn, vey, vey.

Come fly here black bird, vey, vey
Come fly black bird
and peck his eyes out, vey, vey.
and peck his eyes out, vey, vey.

Sheyner foygl, shvartse vorone vey, vey
Sheyner foygl, shvartse vorona,
fli avek tsi mayn mame, vey vey,
fli avek tsi mayn mame, vey vey.

Black bird, black crow, vey, vey
Black bird, black crow
fly away to my mother, vey, vey.
fly away to my mother, vey, vey.

Zolst ir fin mayn toyt nisht zugn, vey, vey,
zolst ir fin mayn toyt nisht zugn,
anit vet zi nit oyfhern klugn vey, vey.
anit vet zi nit oyfhern klugn vey, vey.

Do not tell her of my death, vey vey
Do not tell her of my death
for she will cry and lament, vey, vey
for she will cry and lament, vey, vey.

Ver vet nukh mir veynen in klugn vey, vey
ver vet nukh mir veynen in klugn,
ver vet nukh mir kadish zugn? vey, vey.
ver vet nukh mir kadish zugn? vey, vey

Who will cry and lament for me? vey, vey
Who will cry and lament for me?
Who will say Kaddish for me? vey, vey.
Who will say Kaddish for me? vey, vey.

Nor dus ferdl, dus getraye, vey, vey
nur dus ferdl dus getraye
vet nukhgeyn nukh mayn levaye, vey, vey.
vet nukhgeyn nukh mayn levaye, vey, vey.

Only my faithful horse, vey, vey.
Only my faithful horse
Will follow at my funeral, vey, vey.
Will follow at my funeral, vey, vey.

TRANSCRIPTION OF NOMBERG-PRZYTYK’s VERSION:

nomberg 1914

TRANSCRIPTION OF LSW/BSG/JG’s VERSION:

LSW 1914 1LSW 1914 2

“Di velt iz meshige” Performed by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2020 by yiddishsong

Di velt iz meshige/The World Has Gone Mad
Sung by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk [pronounced “Pshitik”]
Recorded with English subtitles by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986

 

Information on the song and Yiddish transcription provided by Eliezer Niborski, Jerusalem:

This seems to be a transformation of a song that was popular in the Lemberg/Lviv area in the 1910s. There is a 78rpm recording of Pepe Litman singing this song that you can hear here by clicking here.  There are at least two other 78rpm recordings of the song with this title, one by N. Glimer from Lemberg and one by Sam Schilling. 

Gilmer (1)78 Recording “Die Welt is Meschuge” by N. Gilmer recorded in Lemberg (Lviv) (Favorite, 1-27132X)

The same song, but titled “Meshige ist die welt” is sung by Julius Kalisch (1909) (Lemberg/Lviv) and can be heard by clicking here.

All three singers of these 78rpm recordings are basically using the same text and arrangement. In Sara Nomberg-Prztyk’s version, however, the content is adapted to the theme “modern women”. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Thanks to Sara Nomberg-Przytyk’s introduction to the song in which she tells us her grandmother sang it with no sarcasm, but meant it literally, we can add her “Di velt iz meshige” to a number of songs using irony to mock the old-fashioned Jewish way of life or to make fun of the Hasidic rebbe and his Hasidim.

 In some interpretations of these songs, the irony was indeed often “lost” to the singer. But, of course, Sara, the more modern granddaughter did indeed “get it”. The naive narrator of the song in Nomberg-Przytyk’s version decries modern Jewish society, women in particular, with their “reading books”,  going to spas, and wearing their own hair and new immodest fashions. By “suffragettes”, the singer clearly just means “modern women”.

The video came with a translation and is mostly accurate. However as Niborski points out, when she sings “furn di kur”, this is shorthand for “furn af der kur” — going to spas, resorts.

Thanks for help with this week’s post to discographer Michael Aylward and Eliezer Niborski.

TRANSCRIPTION 

SPOKEN: Di lid vus ikh vil  atsind zingen iz zayer an alt lid. Zi iz antshtanen in di tsatn fin di sufrazhistkes. In dus iz geveyzn di yidishe sufrazhistkes. Ikh mayn az der vos hot geshribn di lid hot zi geshribn als a “joke”. R’hot gelakht derfin. Ober mayn bube hot es gezugt ernst. Zi hot es traktirt zeyer ernst.

SUNG:

Gevald vel ikh shrayen,
me zol hern, me zol hern!
Tsi hot zikh nokh azoyns gehert?
Dus yidishkayt vil du zikh iberkern, Oy-vay!
S’nemt mikh on a groys gevayn.

Zay furn “di kur”. 
Zay gayen in di hur.
Zay laynen bikher un a tsul.
Fin groys biz klayn,
zey makhn khayn,
un redn ale inter der nuz.

A mol hot men gefirt di kale tsu der khipe,
hot men ir ungetin di bubes a yipe.
Haynt geyen zey mit di naketdike paskudstves un – tfuuuu!
Zey hobn a punim vi a klipe.
Derfar haltn zey ober di hern far klige.
Ober ikh shray “Gevald!”
Di velt iz meshige!
Screenshot 2020-06-04 at 1.40.17 PMScreenshot 2020-06-04 at 1.40.38 PM

“Der vasermentsh” Performed by Sara Nomberg-Prztyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2020 by yiddishsong

Der vasermentsh / The Waterman
Sung by Sara Nomberg-Prztyk, recorded by Wolf Krakowski at Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada 1986

Information on this song and Yiddish text contributed by Eliezer Niborski, Jerusalem:

“Der vasermentsh” is a Yiddish version of German composer Robert Schumann’s (1810 – 1856) composition. The original German text is entitled – “Der Wasserman” – written by the German poet Justinus Kerner (1786 – 1862.) The translation is probably the one Peysekh Kaplan (1870 – 1943) published in the weekly Hayntige tsayt, Bialystok, 1914. Click here for a  link to a performance of the original German composition.

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 2.51.45 PMKlezmob – the contemporary klezmorim of Tübingen, the setting of Kerner’s original text

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

This creepy gothic Romantic-era song will perhaps follow the fate of Zalmen Scheour’s song “Margaritklekh” which is unsingable today because of its disturbing treatment of women at the hands of men. Demons and spirits in the water are part of international folklore, though usually it is a female demon, such as the Slavic Rusalka.

It is interesting that the Vilbig choir conductor in Vilna, Avrom Sliep, chose works with German/Austrian classical musical pedigree: last week  “Farges dem tsar” with Strauss ll music and this week with Robert Schumann’s music.

What follows is a transcription of the Yiddish the way Sara Nomberg-Prztyk sings it and then the text in Yiddish submitted by Eliezer Niborski. The English translation by Wolf Krakowski is included on the video. Finally, we have included the original German poem by Kerner.

Der vasermentsh (transliteration):

Spoken introduction by Sara Nomberg-Prztyk: Der vasermentsh iz a lid fun repertoir fun Vilner, a Vilner khor, ver hot gehat hindert mitglider der khor. “Der vasermentsh” iz, glayb ikh, nisht kayn…ikh vays nisht fin vanen s’iz antshtanen di lid, vayl s’iz nisht keyn traditsye fun di yidishe geshikhte, fin di yidishe dertseylungen. Kh’ob dus ershte mul zikh getrofn mit deym Vasermentsh. Ober s’iz zeyer a sheyne lid un ikh vil zi du far aykh forshteln. Kho’ zi oykh nisht gehert nukh deym vi me zol zi zingen.

A mol in a zumertog sphetlekh bay nakht,
di zun geyt shoyn unter,  natur shteyt fartrakht.
Farklaybn zikh meydlekh hinter der shtot,
un zingen un tantsn in eyn karahod.

Kumt plutsling a bokherl oysgeputst fayn,
di tentserkes zet er, klaybt eyne oyx glaykh,
geyt tsu un tut on ir a grininkn krants,
nemt ir georemt, un firt ir tsum tants.

– Bokher, zog, vos yogt fun dir a kelt?
– in tifn vaser iz a kalte velt.
– hey, bokher, zog, vos bistu azoy blas?
– In tifn vaser iz dokh kalt un nas.

Er tansts mit ir, un firt ir in a zayt.
– Hey, bokher, loz! es past dokh nisht far layt!
Er tantst mit ir tsum vaser tsu.
– Hey, bokher, zog, vuhin geystu?

Er nemt arum ir shlankn layb:
– Mayn kind, du bist dem vasermentshns vayb.
Er nemt un er tantst in vaser arayn.
– Hey, bokher, vos tustu? mayn mame mayn!

Er firt ir tsum palats fun reynem krishtol.
– Adye mayn velt, tsum letstn mol,
Adye, adye…

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 2.39.17 PM

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 2.41.14 PM

Der Wassermann (original German):

Es war in des Maien [mildem]1 Glanz,
Da hielten die [Jungfern]2 von Tübingen Tanz.

Sie tanzten und tanzten wohl allzumal
Um eine Linde im grünen Tal.

Ein fremder Jüngling, [in stolzem]3 Kleid,
Sich [wandte]4 [bald]5 zu der schönsten Maid;

Er [reicht ihr dar die Hände]6 zum Tanz,
[Er]7 setzt ihr auf’s Haar einen meergrünen Kranz.

“O Jüngling! warum ist so kalt dein Arm?”
“In Neckars Tiefen da ist’s nicht warm.”

“O Jüngling! warum ist so bleich deine Hand?”
“Ins Wasser dringt nicht der Sonne Brand!”

Er [tanzt]8 mit ihr von der Linde weit:
“Lass’, Jüngling! horch, die Mutter [mir]9 schreit!”

Er [tanzt]10 mit ihr den Neckar entlang:
“Lass’, Jüngling! weh! mir wird so bang!”

Er fasst sie fest um den schlanken Leib:
“Schön’ Maid, du bist des Wassermann’s Weib!”

Er [tanzt]10 mit ihr in die Wellen hinein:
“O Vater und du, o Mutter mein!”

Er führt sie in [seinen]11 krystallenen Saal:
“Ade, ihr Schwestern [allzumal]

The Waterman (translation of the German text):

Once in the mild brightness of May,
The young maidens of Tübingen had a dance.

They danced and danced all together
About a lime tree in the green valley.

A stranger, a lad in a proud garment,
Soon attached himself to the most beautiful maiden;

He stretched out his hands to lead her into the dance,
He placed a sea-green wreath upon her hair.

“Oh young man, why are your arms so cold?”
“In the depths of the Neckar (river) it is not warm.”

“Oh young man, why are your hands so pale?”
“The burning rays of the sun do not penetrate into the water.”

He dances away with her, far from the lime tree:
“Stop, young man!  Listen, my mother is calling me!”

He dances away with her along the banks of the Neckar (River):
“Stop, young man!  Woe, I am becoming so frightened!”

He seizes her tightly about her slender body:
“Lovely maiden, you are the waterman’s bride!”

He dances away with her right into the waves:
“Oh father, and you, oh mother mine!”

He leads her into his crystal hall:
“Adieu, to you, my sisters all!”

 

“Farges dem tsar” Performed by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2020 by yiddishsong

Farges dem tsar/Forget Your Sorrows
Music by Johannes Strauss ll (1804 – 1849), sung by Sara Nomberg – Przytyk
Recorded by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

For the next three weeks Yiddish Song of the Week will feature field recordings of the singer Sara Nomberg-Przytyk, videotaped by Yiddish singer, songwriter and musican Wolf Krakowski in 1986. Click here for Krakowski’s reminiscences about about Nomberg-Przytyk. This week we present “Farges dem tsar” [“Forget Your Sorrows”].

Nomberg-Przytyk was born in Lublin, September 10, 1921 and died in Israel in 1996. She is known for her Holocaust memoirs, translated into English as Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land. In Auschwitz she was an attendant in Dr. Mengele’s hospital and worked with him on a daily basis.

For a more detailed article in English on her life click here; an article on her life and song in Yiddish is here.

As she says to introduce this song, she learned Farges  dem tsar from her friend who was in the Vilbig (Vilner yidishe bildungs-gezelshaft) Vilna Jewish Education Society) chorus in Vilna which was conducted by Avrom Sliep (1884 – 1942)

Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 11.34.58 AMVilbig Choir, 1929, E. Cejtlin/YIVO Archives

The video includes a translation, but the second line should be translated as “Don’t look how the skies are black”.

TRANSLITERATION

Oysgelernt di lid – S’iz oykhet a lid Farges dem tsar fun Vilbig. Un di ale lider hob ikh gehert fun mayns a khaverte, mit velkher ikh bin gezitsn tsuzamen far der krig in tfise far politishe teytikaytn.  

Zi’s geven a mitgliderin fun dem khor un zi hot di lid far undz gezingen.

Farges dem tsar, der tsar fargeyt.
Mir darfn leybn nor far freyd.
Bafrayt zikh ale glaykh
Dos lebn iz far aykh.

Nisht kuk vos s’iz der himl shvarts.
Di zun geyt oyf, derfray dis harts.
un brengt indz ale mut
in der royshnde yunge blut.

Kuk zikh um sara prakht.
Alts arum iz shtil fartrakht
zingt mayn harts gur alayn.
Akh vi sheyn iz dus leybn vi sheyn.

Zey vi se blit, Zey vi es glit.
Zol zhe klingen indzer lid.
Iber berg, iber tol
Lebn mir nor ayn mul, nor ayn mul.

The Israeli Yiddish song collector and researcher Meir Noy included this song in one of his notebooks of Yiddish songs located in the music department at the Israeli National Library in Jerusalem. Below is attached that page which has the melody, the words in Yiddish and an additional verse. Noy notes that the melody comes from three Johann Strauss ll works: “Wein, Weib und Gesang” “Wiener blut” “Morgenblatter Waltz””:

Noy Journal 19 pp107-108 for Itzik-page-0Noy Journal 19 pp107-108 for Itzik-page-1

Wolf Krakowski writes about Sara Nomberg-Przytyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2020 by yiddishsong

Wolf Krakowski writes the following about Sara Nomberg-Przytyk:

I met Sara Nomberg-Przytyk August 26, 1974, by chance on Spadina Avenue, in Toronto. I can remember the day, because it was my birthday.

Some five or six years earlier, in Montréal, at McGill University, I had come to know Sara’s older son, Jerzy.

We became fast friends and, in the style of the times, with our significant others, we all moved in together into a sprawling country house in St. Sauveur, Québec.  Summer 1970. By 1986, my circumstances had changed radically.  Typically, after spring and summer doing carpentry and renovations in the Townships, I would winter in Toronto, chasing film work, I married and moved to the Boston area and then, to Western Massachusetts, where we remain.

We traveled North often. And of course, my wife and Sara also became close.*

Over the years, Sara was the grandmother and auntie I never had.  There was one period of ten days when Jerzy and Natasha went travelling, and Sara and I took care of Sasha and Ziv.  She was a doting, progressive grandmother, but brooked no nonsense.

She had great compassion and insight.  She could deliver an unpleasant truth with gentleness. She radiated unconditional love.  A Yidishe mame.

We understood one another perfectly and were totally comfortable together.

She was always an enthusiastic participant in any celebration, singing and getting a buzz on with the younger people. She told jokes well.

When I acquired a videocamera, it was a no-brainer to record her.

I will add:  she mocked herself and renounced her belief and devotion to Communism.

She claimed that, after everything, her satisfaction in life came from her grandchildren, who called her Bapke.  

She observed everything.

She was always for the underdog.

Everybody loved her.  She spoke French, and got on well with people of all ages. There were always visitors and travelers around, all of whom Sara engaged, to everyone’s pleasure.

She would not hesitate to tell it, with wisdom:

Az men shtekt aroys di hant af sholem, varf es nisht avek.

Our relationship transcended family.  We had no grievances, held no old grudges.

Before her last trip to Israel, when we were saying good- bye, I could see in her eyes she knew we would never see one another again.  She is buried in Sfad (Safed), among all the holy, righteous ones.

* Paula worked with Sara on a translation of one of her books. Sara translated it from Polish to Yiddish (on cassette) and Paula translated the Yiddish to English.