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“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:

“Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine”, a Doina Performed by Anna Esther Steinbaum

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2021 by yiddishsong

Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine (“Doina”)
A Romanian poem adapted into a Yiddish song.
Sung by Anna Esther Steinbaum, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Jerusalem 1997.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer, Anna Esther Steinbaum (also known as Anna Rauchwerger Steinbaum), was from Chernovitz, Romania, and was active in the Yiddish cultural life there before the war. After the war, in Israel, she remained close to the Chernovitz intellectuals and translated Itzik Manger’s ballads into German.

Romania’s Mureș River

What makes this week’s song extraordinary is that though the text was written by an anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist Romanian poet, whose politics were well known, a Yiddish poet found his poetry moving enough to adapt into a Yiddish song.

I met with her several times in 1997-98 in her apartment in Jerusalem. At this particular meeting my mother Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman was also present and occasionally can be heard as Steinbaum sings. Steinbaum found this song in a written notebook she had kept where she wrote down the songs she remembered. 

In her notebook the song is entitled “Doina” but it is  an adaptation of a Romanian poem “Noi” [“We”]  by Octavian Goga (1881 – 1938), a virulent fascist Romanian nationalist and anti-Semite, who was briefly the Romanian Prime Minister in 1938, when he stripped the Jews of their Romanian citizenship  

The Yiddish reworking of the song was done, according to Steinbaum, by the Romanian Yiddish writer Herts Rivkin, the author of the song “Nakhtishe lider” previously posted on the Yiddish Song of the Week

Here is a link to the longer original poem by Goga recited in Romanian with an English translation. 

Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine 

A Romanian poem by Octavian Goga, adapted in Yiddish by Hertz Rivkin. 

Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine [kodres=codri ]וועלדער 
velder fil mit korn. 
Bay undz azoy fil blumen, lider,
in shtiblekh fil mit tsorn. 

We have so mayn green woods,
forests full of rye.
We have so many flowers, songs,
in homes that are full of rage.

Kimen feygelekh fin vaytn
indzer doina hern. 
Bay indz azoy fil shmeterlingen
in taykhn trern, trern.

Birds come to us from afar
to hear our doina.
We have so many butterflies
in rivers of tears, tears.

Umet flist in shtiln muresh [Murăşul = Romanian river]
troyer rint in ovnt.
Es dertseylt fin indzer benkshaft
yeyder boym in vald.

Sadness flows quietly into the Murasul river;
Sadness runs in the evening.
Our longing is told by
every tree in the forest.

Zitsn mames gantse nekht,
shpinen layvnt, veybn. 
Tates, mames in oykh zin 
baveynen dus zeyer leybn.

Mothers stay up all night
spinning linen, weaving. 
Fathers, mother and sons too
lament their lives. 

Benkt zikh indz azoy nukh freyd.
Der vald iz undzer eydes.
Oysgevaremt hot di benkshaft
zeydes, elter-zeydes.

We yearn so for joy;
the woods are our witness.
This yearing was hatched 
by our grandfathers and their fathers. 

Un biz haynt iz ot der khulem
mekiyem nisht gevorn:
felder oysgebet mit veyts
shtiblekh fil mit tsorn. 

And till today this dream has
not been realized:
fields covered with wheat,
homes full of rage.

בײַ אונדז אַזוי פֿיל קאָדרעס גרינע
אַ רומעניש ליד פֿון אָקטאַוויאַן גאָגאַ
באַאַרבעט אויף ייִדיש פֿון הערץ ריווקין
געזונגען פֿון אַנאַ אסתּר שטיינבאַום

,בײַ אונדז אַזוי פֿיל קאָדרעס גרינע
.וועלדער פֿיל מיט קאָרן
,בײַי אונדז אַזוי פֿיל בלומען, לידער
.אין שטיבלעך פֿיל מיט צאָרן

זיצן מאַמעס גאנצע נעכט
.שפּינען לײַוונט, וועבן
טאַטעס, מאַמעס און אויך זין
.באַוויינען דאָס זייער לעבן

קומען פֿייגעלעך פֿון ווײַטן
.אונדזער דוינע הערן
בײַ אונדז אַזוי פֿיל שמעטערלינגען
.אין טײַכן טרערן, טרערן

אומעט פֿליסט אין שטילן מורעש
טרויער רינט אין אָוונט
עס דערציילט פֿון אונדזער בענקשאַפֿט
יעדער בוים אין וואַלד

.בענקט זיך אונדז אַזוי נאָך פֿרייד
.דער וואַלד איז אונדזער עדות
אויסגעוואַרעמט האָט די בענקשאפֿט
.זיידעס, עלטער־זיידעס

און ביז הײַנט איז אָט דער חלום 
.מקוים נישט געוואָרן
,פֿעלדער, אויסגעבעט מיט ווייץ
.שטיבלעך פֿול מיט צאָרן

“Geltenyu” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2020 by yiddishsong

Geltenyu / Money
Sung by Clara Crasner, recorded by Bob Freedman, Philadelphia, 1972

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A most unusual song about Jews oppressing (or “taking advantage”, in Crasner’s words), of fellow Jews.

Ukrainian Jews escaping pogroms and the Russian Civil War crossed over into Romania. 1919-1921.  This song documents the hard times these Jews faced, apparently because of the Bessarabian Jews who extorted money from them once they crossed the border.  The “Ukrainians” were forced to do manual labor and sleep in horrible conditions in order to secure passports. 

In an earlier post on this blog where Clara Crasner sings the song “Eykho” she mentions the Bessarabian town of Yedinitz (today in Molodova – Edinets); perhaps that is the town in question. There she refers to her fellow refugees as “yoridnikes”, impoverished ones. In the Yedenitz Yizkor (Memorial) Book, there is indeed a chapter that recalls the Ukrainian Jews who crossed the border to escape the violence and came to Yedinits (legendary klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras, was one of these migrants).

Committee for Assistance of Ukrainian Refugees, Yedenitz, 1920-1921

The first two verses of the song are from the perspective of the money-hungry Bessarabians. The third verse is from the refugee’s perspective.

This is the fifth song sung by Clara Crasner from Shargorod, Ukraine, that we have posted. They were all recorded by her son-in-law, Robert Freedman in Philadelphia 1972. Freedman and his wife Molly Freedman are the founders of the “Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive” at the University of Pennsylvania Library, an invaluable resource in researching Yiddish song.

TRANSLITERATION

Crasner (spoken)

 “Ot di lid hob ikh gehert in Rumenye, Basarabye, in 1919, 1920. Nokh der ershter milkhume, ven di yidn fin rusland zenen antlofn, iz dus geveyn di neyvnste greynets far indz, fin vonen ikh kim un nokh mentshn. Kimendik kin Basarabye obn mir geheysn “Ukrayiner.” Di Basarbyer hobn genemen …zey hobn genemne “advantage’ fin indz. M’o’me nisht gekent aroysfurn finem shtyetl. M’ot indz nisht gevolt geybn keyn peser, obn di mentshn gemakht a lid. Ikh denk az s’iz a “satire”. In di lid heyst “gelt”. 

(sung)

Tsu indz keyn Besarabye kimen Ukrainer a sakh.
Zey shvimen in der blote, azoy vi di fish in takh.
Zey loyfn im, imedim nor vi a vint
ergets vi, nor tsi krign a dokument.
Freygn zey far vos kimt indz dos?
Entfert men zey:
Geltenyu, hot ir geltenyu?
Git indz gelt nor a sakh
Val mir viln vern rakh.
Geltenyu iz a gite zakh.

In der Ukrainyer er lozt arop di nuz.
Er miz nebekh geyn in shlufn in kluz.
Dort iz fintster ,kolt un vist; nor azoy vi in der erd.
Zey hakn holts un trugn voser in horeven vi di ferd.
Freygn zey far vos kimt indz dos?
Entfert men zey: 
Geltenyu, hot ir geltenyu?
Git indz gelt mit beyde hent
krigt ir bold a dokument.
Geltenyu iz a gite zakh. 

Ober es kimt a tsat ven di Ukrayner zey leybn hoykh a velt.
Ven es kimt zey un di pur daler gelt. 
Zey rasn zikh aroys fin donen nor vi fin a shtag.
In ale Beseraber yidn tsaygn zey a fag.
Freygn zey far vos kimt indz dos?
Entfert men zey:
Geltenyu, mir hobn mir oykh geltenyu.
Mir darfn shoyn mer nit nitsn [?] aykh.
Mir hern aykh vi dem kuter,
vayl ayer Got iz indzer futer.
Geltenyu iz a gite zakh. 

TRANSLATION

[spoken]

“This song I heard in Romania, Bessarabia, in 1919, 1920. After the First War, when the Jews from Russia escaped, this was the closest border to us, from where I am from and others. Coming into Bessarabia, we were called “Ukrainians” and Bessarabians took advantage of us. We were not able to leave the town. We were not given passports, so the people created a song. I think it’s a satire and the song is called “Gelt” – “Money”

[sung]

To us in Bessarabia come many Ukrainians
They swim in the mud, as fish in a river.
They run around everywhere like the wind;
anywhere just to get a document.
So they ask – why do we deserve this?
And they are answered:
money, do you have money?
Give us a lot of money
because we want to become rich.
Money is a good thing.

And the Ukrainian, he drops down his nose.
He must, alas, go to sleep in the synagogue.
There it is dark, cold and deserted.
Just like being in the ground.
They chop wood and carry water
and work hard as a horse.
So they ask why do we deserve this?
And they are answered: 
Money, do you have money?
Give us money with both hands
and you’ll get back a document.
Money is a good thing.

But a time will come when the Ukrainians
will live in luxury when they get their few dollars.
They will tear out of here as if from a cage.
And at all Bessarabian Jews they will thumb their noses
at them. [literally show them the fig = finger]
So they ask why do we deserve this?
They are answered:
Money, we also have money.
We don’t need you anymore
we totally ignore you
because your God is our father.
Money is a good thing.

TRANSCRIPTION

אָט די ליד האָב איך געהערט אין רומעניע, באַסאַראַביע, אין 1919, 1920. נאָך דער ערשטער מלחמה, ווען די ייִדן פֿון רוסלאַנד זענען אַנטלאָפֿן, איז דאָס געווען די נאָענססטע גרענעץ פֿאַר אונדז, פֿון וואַנען איך קום און נאָך מענטשן. קומענדיק קיין באַסאַראַביע האָבן מיר געהייסן „אוקראַיִנער”. די באַסאַראַבער האָבן גענעמען פֿון אונדז. מ’ אָ’ מיר נישט געקענט אַרויספֿאָרן פֿונעם שטעטל. מ’האָט אונדז נישט געוואָלט געבן קיין פּעסער, האָבן די מענטשן געמאַכט אַ ליד. איך דענק, אַז ס’איז סאַטירע. און די ליד הייסט געלט

.צו אונדז קיין באַסאַראַביע קומען אוקראַיִנער אַ סך
.זיי שווימען אין דער בלאָטע, אַזוי ווי די פֿיש אין טײַך
.זיי לויפֿן אום, אימעדים נאָר ווי אַ ווינט
.ערגעץ ווי נאָר צו קריגן אַ דאָקומענט
?פֿרעגן זי פֿאַר וואָס קומט אונדז דאָס
?ענטפֿערט מען זיי ־ געלטעניו, האָט איר געלטעניו
גיט אונדז געלט, נאָר אַ סך
.ווײַל מיר ווילן ווערן רײַך
.געלטעניו איז אַ גוטע זאַך

.און דער אוקראַיִנער, ער לאָזט אַראָפּ די נאָז
.[ער מוז נעבעך גיין און שלאָפֿן אין קלוז [קלויז]
,דאָרט איז פֿינצטער, קאַלט און וויסט
.נאָר אַזוי ווי אין דער ערד
זיי האַקן האָלץ און טראָגן וואַסער
.און האָרעווען ווי די פֿערד
?פֿרעגן זיי פֿאַר וואָס קומט אונדז דאָס
?ענטפֿערט מען זיי ־ געלטעניו ־  האָט איר געלטעניו
,גיט אונדז געלט מיט ביידע הענט
.קריגט איר באַלד אַ דאָקומענט
.געלטעניו איז אַ גוטע זאַך

אָבער עס קומט אַ צײַט ווען די אוקראַיִנער
.זיי לעבן הויך אַ וועלט
ווען עס קומט זיי אָן
.די פּאָר דאָלער געלט
זיי רײַסן זיך אַרויס פֿון דאַנען
.נאָר ווי פֿון אַ שטײַג
און אַלע באַסאַראַבער ייִדן
.צײַגן זיי אַ פֿײַג
?פֿרעגן זיי פֿאַר וואָס קומט אונדז דאָס
:ענטפֿערט מען זיי
.געלטעניו, מיר האָבן  אויך געלטעניו
.מיר דאַרפֿן שוין מער ניט ניצן אײַך
,מיר הערן אײַך ווי דעם קאָטער
.ווײַל אײַער גאָט איז אונדזער פֿאָטער
.געלטעניו איז אַ גוטע זאַך

“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…

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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!”

 

“Az in felder geyt a regn” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2020 by yiddishsong

Az in felder geyt a regn/When it rains in the fields
Sung by Jacob Gorelik, lyrics by Wolf Younin with music by Maurice Ruach
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx, 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Jacob Gorelik probably learned this song as a member of a Yiddish chorus in NYC or from a chorister, since it is part of a longer “Folk Oratorio/Ballet for Chorus” (1947) called “Fun Viglid biz Ziglid”; words by poet, lyricist, journalist, teacher Wolf Younin (1908 – 1984) and music by composer, writer, choir leader, Maurice (Moyshe) Rauch (1910 – 1994). On Rauch see this link, while for information on Younin see his obituary.

GorelikDrawing“Gorelik at the microphone” drawing by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

In the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO, Yehudis Wasilievsky (Gorelik’s neighbor in the Chelsea-Elliiot Houses in Manahattan) sings another song from this oratorio – “Granatn”.

The Goldene Keyt/The Yiddish Chorale with Zalmen Mlotek conducting, recorded the work on their compact disc “Mir zaynen do tsu zingen”, 1997. The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Folk Chorus in NYC, Binyumen Schaechter conductor, performed the oratorio in 2008. The composer Mark Zuckerman transcribed the words and music for this performance — view his choral arrangement of the song at the end of this post.

Thanks to Binyumin Schaechter and Mark Zuckerman for help with this week’s post.

*Note: Gorelik’s text differs only slightly from Younin’s libretto, so we put in brackets Younin’s original words next to the way Gorelik sings them.

TRANSLITERATION (Gorelik’s text)

Az af [in] felder geyt [shpritst] a regn, vern grozn nas
un di zangen oykh, un di zangen oykh.
In mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?
In mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?

Tsvishn felder, tsvishn velder flist a griner taykh
un er vert gornit mid, un vert gornit mid.
Zingt a foygl tsu a foygl: oy, ikh hob dikh lib.
Zingt a foygl tsu a foygl: oy ikh hob dikh lib.

Ven ale beymer zaynen feder, [Ven yeder boym zol zayn a feder
ale yamen tint un papir der veg, [fun papir der veg]
ale yamen tint un papir der veg.
Undzer libe tsu bashraybn volt es nit geklekt
Undzer libe tsu bashraybn volt es nit geklekt

Az in felder geyt a regn vern grozn nas
un di zangen oykh, un di zangen oykh
in mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?
in mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?

TRANSLATION

When it rains in the fields the grass becomes wet,
and the stalks as well, and the stalks as well.
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?

If the trees were all feathers, and the oceans were ink
and the paths made of paper, and the paths made of paper.
It would not suffice to describe our love.
It would not suffice to describe our love

In fields, in woods,
a green river flows and does not tire at all,
does not tire at all.
A bird sings to another bird: “I love you”
A bird sings to another bird: “I love you”

When it rains in the fields the grass becomes wet,
and the stalks as well, and the stalks as well.
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?
gorelik1

gorelik2

Excerpt of choral score for “Fun viglid biz ziglid” by Mark Zuckerman:Fun viglid biz ziglid 23-page-0Fun viglid biz ziglid 24-page-0

“Royte epl, grine shotns” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2019 by yiddishsong

Royte epl, grine shotns / Red Apples, Green Shadows
Text by Zalmen Schneor, music by Samuel Bugatch
Sung by Jacob (Yankev) Gorelik
Recorded at a concert sponsored by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, NYC, 1990.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The lyrics to this song were written by the Yiddish/Hebrew writer Zalmen Schneour (1886 – 1959). According to Jacob Gorelik’s introduction the music is by the composer Samuel (Shmuel) Bugatch (1898 – 1984). Here is the link to the YIVO Encyclopedia entry on Schneour whose most famous poem/song is Margaritkelekh (Daisies).

GorelikSingsJacob Gorelik at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx.

In Schneour’s volume of collected Yiddish poetry, 40 yor lider un poemen the poem is called Royte epl… and is dated to Vilna, 1906, one of his earliest poems (scan of that poem attached below).

In the sound archives of the National Library of Israel it is sung by Rivke Glazman, recorded by Gila Flam in 1999. Both Glazman and Gorelik were close to the American Poale-Zion (Labor Zionist) movement as was Bugatch.

Here is the link to Glazman’s performance (may require log-in) of Roye epl, grine shotns. Her interpetation differs markedly from Gorelik’s. Gorelik’s version, which we have transliterated and translated, differs, here and there, from the original.

On the life of Samuel Bugatch, see this link at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Among his most famous Yiddish compositions are Zog Maran and A zemer (Reb Motenyu).

TRANSLITERATION

Royte epl, grine shotns,
grozn – samet, himlen – zaydns…
Un a hilkhik taykh-gelekhter
gist zikh, trogt zikh fun der vaytns.

Kum mayn meydl, malekh sheyne!
Frukhtn reytsn, tsvaygn knakn…
Mir an epl, dir an epl
un a gneyvish kush in nakn.

Kum es klingen shoyn di letste,
shoyn di letste gleklekh-blumen;
mir a bliml, dir a bliml
un a drik tsum harts, a shtumen.

Kum… ikh veb do gold-khaloymes
fun der velt un ir troyer;
mir a kholem, dir a kholem
un a shtiln soyd [sod] in oyer.

TRANSLATION

Red apples, green shadows,
grass – velvet, skies – silk.
And a resounding river laughter
streams from far away.

Come my girl, beautiful angel!
The fruits tease us, the branches snap.
An apple for me, an apple for you
and a stealthy kiss on your neck.

Come, the last ringing –
The last bell-flowers [Lillies of the Valley? – IG]
A flower for me, a flower for you,
and a quiet press to the chest.

Come..I weave here golden dreams
of the world and its sadness;
A dream for me, a dream for you
and a quiet secret in your ear.

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“Eyns un tsvey” Performed by May (Menye) Schechter

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2018 by yiddishsong

Eyns un tsvey / One and Two
Performance by May (Menye) Schechter
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Circle Lodge Camp, Hopewell Junction, NY, 1985

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

To welcome the beginning of the school year we present a Yiddish children’s song written and composed in New York but sung by the children in Eastern Europe Jewish schools as well.

The singer May Schechter (Yiddish name “Menye”)  was born in August 1920 in Soroki (Yiddish- Soroke), Bessarabia, then Romania. She died this year, February 2018.

may schechter picMay (Menye) Schechter 1920-2018

In an interview I conducted with her in 1986 at Circle Lodge, the Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY, Schechter explained that the children in Soroki performed this song as part of Zishe Weinper’s (Vaynper) children’s operetta Der bafrayter (The One Who Was Liberated). Der bafrayter was published by Farlag Matones in 1925, NY. We are attaching the Yiddish words and music (composed by N. Zaslavsky/Zaslawsky) as it appeared there. Yosl Kotler did wonderful illustrations for the publication.

befrayter pic
Picture of Der Bafrayter by Yosl Kotler

May Schechter’s daughter, Naomi Schechter, wrote  about her mother:

She liked to say “I came in singing and I’m going to go out singing” and she was able to do that almost to the end, sharing Russian songs with her caretaker Luba and Yiddish and other songs with me. She also loved to dance. She had many talents including being a world class seamstress able to make couture suits, drapery and just about anything, carrying on the tailoring tradition of her family…

May Schechter’s husband was Ben Schechter, the long time manager of the Folksbiene Yiddish theater in NY.

The poet Zishe Weinper (1893 – 1957) came to America in 1913. He was a central figure in the Yiddish left and a number of his poems appealed to composers, among them “Toybn” and “A pastekhl, a troymer”. His song Zingendik, music by Paul Lamkoff, was another American Yiddish children’s song that became popular in Eastern Europe.

The composer Nathan Zaslavsky (1885 – 1965) immigrated to the US in 1900 and composed a number of other Yiddish songs. Sarah Gorby recorded this song twice we are attaching the MP3 of the version on:  Sarah Gorby – Yiddish et Judeo-Espagnole (Arton Records).

One verse of the  song was also recorded by Masha Benye and Workmen Circle school children on the LP Lomir zingen lider far yidishe kinder. Since May Schechter and Sarah Gorby both came from Bessarabia one has to wonder whether the play Der bafrayter was especially popular there.

Special thanks to Naomi Schechter for this week’s post, as well as Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archive.

TRANSLITERATION

Eyns un tsvey, eyns un tsvey
eyns un tsvey iz dray.
Zun bahelt undzer velt.
Leybn iz keday.

Zum, zum, zum?
Zum, zum, zum?
freygt ba mir a flig.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
entfer ikh tsurik.

Tsvey un tsvey, tsvey un tsvey
tsvey un tsvey iz fir.
Vintl bluz afn gruz,
bluzt es oykh af mir.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
zingt a vaserfal.
Blyasket blendt, glit un brent.
Iber im a shtral.

Fir un fir, fir un fir
fir un fir iz akht.
Af a kark fun a barg
hot zikh ver tselakht.

Kha-kha-kha, kha-kha-kha
ver zhe lakht es dort?
Kha-kha-kha, kha, kha, kha
Me hert dort nisht keyn vort.

Finf un finf, finef un finf
finef un finf iz tsen.
kling klang klingt
Foygl zingt.
Vazt mir, vos er ken.

Foygl flit, taykhl tsit
Ikh tsi oykh mit zey.
Eyns un eyns, eyns un eyns.
Eyns un eyns iz tsvey.

TRANSLATION

One and two, one and two
one and two is three.
Sun light up our world,
It’s worth living.

Zum, zum, zum, zum, zum, zum?
A fly asks me.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
Is my reply.

Two and two, two and two
two and two is four.
Breeze blows on the grass
and so too it blows on me.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
sings a waterfall.
Shines and dazzles, glows and burns
A beam of light above.

Four and four, four and four
four and four is eight.
On the neck of a hill
someone was laughing.

Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
who is laughing there?
Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
Not a word is heard.

Five and five, five and five
Five and five is ten.
Kling-klang rings, the bird sings
Shows me what he can do.

Bird sings, river attracts,
and I am drawn to them.
One and one, one and one
One and two is three.

eyns1

eyns2
eynsmusic

“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

“Bay a taykhele” Performed by Feigl Yudin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Ethel Raim and Itzik Gottesman

From Ethel Raim:

Feigl Yudin moved to the United States at the age of 14 from Grodna (Grodno) Gubernia, now in Belarus. Her parents stayed behind in Europe, so upon arriving to New York City she was housed by landslayt (contacts from her hometown), who took care of her until she was able to support herself. A skilled seamstress, Feigl continued working in the needle trades in the US for most of her life and was an active participant in the progressive labor movement.

When the Center presented the landmark concert with legendary clarinetist Dave Tarras on November 19, 1978, at Casa Galicia (now Webster Hall) in Manhattan, Feigl Yudin was a featured artist, among others. A native Yiddish speaker, she loved singing and was one of those people who could hear a melody for the first time and commit it to memory almost instantly.  She would say, “When I hear a melody it haunts me and I must get the words.” Feigl had a large repertoire of Yiddish songs which she learned both in Europe and in the US, and, as you will hear, was a beautiful singer.

From Itzik Gottesman:

This love song is a strophic lyric quatrain which is typical of the Yiddish tradition. (See accompanying booklet to LP Folksongs in the East European Tradition from the repertoire of Mariam Nirenberg Prepared by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett with Mark Slobin and Eleanor Gordon Mlotek, 1986, pages 5 – 6).

Yudin’s repertoire was recorded by Ruth Rubin starting in 1948. Four of her songs are included in the volume Yiddish Songs from the Ruth Rubin Archive (2007) and her song “Ba a taykhele” begins the collection.

It states there that the song was collected in 1967 and other versions can be found in I. L. Cahan’s collection Yidishe folkslider mit melodyes (1957) and the volume by Beregovski and Fefer – Yidishe folkslider (1938).

The suggested parallel in Cahan (song #175) is not convincingly a variant of this song, but the Beregovski and Fefer version is the exact same as Yudin sings it, and I am inclined to think that Yudin learned it from an Amerucan leftist Yiddish chorus/choir where the songs from the Beregovski and Fefer songbook were quite popular.

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele.
Vaksn af dem tsvaygn.
Mit alemen redstu, mit aleman bistu frayndlekh.
Nor mir heystu shvaygn.

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele
Vaksn oyf dem blumen.
(Haynt) freg ikh dir libster – ven vestu shoyn kumen?
Ven vestu shoyn a mol kumen?

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele
Vaksn af dem bleter
Freg ikh dir libster ven vestu shoyn kumen?
Leygst alts op af shpeter.

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows branches.
You talk to everyone; you’re friendly with all.
But me – you ask to be silent.

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows flowers.
(Today) I ask you my beloved – when will you come already?
When will come for once?

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows leaves.
I ask you my beloved when will you come already?
But you keep putting it off for later.

yudintaykhele

“In kheyder keseyder” performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the third song we have posted by Clara Crasner, b. 1902 in Shargorod (a town near Vinnitsia, Ukraine). As she says after she sings the song, she learned this song in Romania approx. 1919-1920, where she waited for two years to get papers to come to America. Freedman recorded the song again, and this time she says that she learned it from a 5 year old boy.

Robert Freedman (Crasner’s son-in-law) recorded the song in 1972 and sent it to Chana and Yosl Mlotek for their Yiddish Forward newspaper column Leyner dermonen zikh lider – Readers Remember Songs. Below is a copy of the column with the Mlotek’s response, where they identify a number of published variants (click the image to enlarge):

mlotek crasner kheyder

With its uneven verse lines and “un-Jewish” melody, In kheyder keseyder sounds as if it could be a newer Yiddish theater song of the time.

Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn.
Hob ikh zikh gebudn in taykh.
Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn
hob ikh zikh gebudn a sakh.

When I was a small boy,
I bathed in the river [or lake].
When I was a small boy
I often bathed.

Gebudn, geplyusket, gelofn aheym
Hot mir der rebbe derzeyn.
Un hot mikh mekhabed geveyn.

I bathed, splashed and ran home,
but the rebbe spotted me.
And “honored” me [meant ironically – beat, punished]

Freyg ikh im farvus?
Farvus kimt mir dus?
Entfert er mir dus:

So I ask him why?
Why do I deserve this?
And this is how he answers me:

In kheyder keseyder,
a yingele darf zitsn dort.
In kheyder keseyder,
Sha! Un redt nisht keyn vort.

Always in kheyder [traditional elementary religious school]
is where a boy should sit.
Always in kheyder
Quiet! And don’t say a word.

Ven di volst in kheyder gegangen,
volsti di toyre derlangen.
Volsti geveyzn a yid, a yid.
Volt dir geveyzn gants git, gant git.

If you were to attend kheyder,
you could attain the Torah.
Then you would be a Jew, a Jew
And you would feel real good, real good.

In kheyder keseyder….

In kheyder keseyder