Archive for seder

A Yiddish Khad-gadyo Performed by Pam Singer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2015 by yiddishsong

A Yiddish Khad-gadyo
Performance by Pam Singer, England
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

During a break in the KlezNorth Festival in England, March 2014, I recorded on video a Yiddish version of Khad Gadyo from Pam Singer. As she says in the video, she learned the song in I. L. Peretz Shul in Winnipeg in the early 1960s. She remembers half the song (see the end of this posting for all lyrics).

As we had presented in a previous Yiddish Song of the Week post, here is a video of “Uncle Sidney” singing part of the same song:

In the comments to that previous post, Nadia Dehan from Paris pointed us to a printed version of the song with all the words in the Lider bukh: gezamlter repertoir fun Frayhayṭ Gezangs Fareyn (Chicago, Ill. 1923). Please note that all the Yiddish words that originate from Hebrew/Aramaic have been “Yiddishized” in this collection.

From the website of Zemereshet, זמרשת we learn that the song’s title is “Khad gadyo” and was written by a fascinating figure named Yitskhok Pirozshnikov, the man who first popularized the concertina. Zemereshet provides all the Yiddish verses, but only a recording of the first verse in a Hebrew translation.

Zemereshet also believes the song first appeared in the Haggadah –
הגדה של פסח מיט זשארגאנישער איבערזעצונג…און אויך א פסחדיקע לידעלע חד־גדיא מיט נאטן published by Pirozshnikov in Vilna in 1901.

The composer of the song, Yitskhok Pirozshnikov, was an extraordinary man. Born in 1859 on an island in the Dneiper river, Khortits, he became a kapelmeister in the Russian military in Vilna, and at the same time choir conductor of the Jewish Teacher’s Institute. He developed a new, easier way to play the concertina, allowing the instrument to be accessible to far more people. As a result all the Russian Pedagogical and Teacher Institutes in the region began to teach concertina. He was the first person ever to tour as a concertina virtuoso including Europe, America, Israel. He then left music for a while to set up a printing press in Vilna, and among his publications was the first collection of Yiddish proverbs in book form.

PR PicYitskhok Pirozshnikov

In 1909 he came to the U.S. and became active in the Jewish music world again. He edited the music section of the Yiddish Forverts newspaper. He was the first conductor and choir leader of a Workmen’s Circle chorus in NY and then in Paterson, NJ. He composed at least 50 Yiddish songs for Jewish school children. No collection of his Yiddish songs appeared in book form. He died in NY in 1933. On the website Museum of Family History, in the section “Lives of the Yiddish Theater”, one can read more biographical information.

Below are the lyrics to Singer’s partial version, followed by the complete version by Pirozshnikov (since we do not have the original Pirozshnikov Haggadah, we have not changed the words as they appear on the Zemereshet website).

Pam Singer’s version of Khad-gadyo:

A mayse mit a tsigele,
hert oys ovois-uvonim
Der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Di umshildike tsigele
zi shpringt arum in hoyz.
Plutsem kumt a beyze kats,
un khapt un frest es oyf.

Di tsigele, di tsigele, hert oys ovis-uvonim.
Der foter hot batsolt far it tsvey gildn
mezumonim.
Khad-gad-yo, khad-gad-yo.

Der hunt hot faynt gehat di kats
dos treft zikh al-pi-rov.
Er klert nit lang un khapt ir on
un makht fun ir a sof.

Der hunt iz dokh dem shtekn vert,
er iz dokh beyz un shlekht.
Der shtekn git im klep vi bob
un meynt er iz gerekht.

Di tsigele, di tsigele, hert oys ovois-uvonim
Der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.
Khad-gad-yo, khad-gad-yo.

Translation:

A tale with a little kid (young goat)
listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it
two gulden cash.

The innocent kid,
she jumps around the house.
Suddenly a mean cat comes
and catches it and eats it up.

The kid, the kid, listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it two guilden cash.
Khad-gad yo, khad gad yo.

The dog hated the cat,
as happens most of the time,
He doesn’t think long and catches it
and puts an end to her.

The dog deserves the rod,
since he is so mean and bad.
The stick strikes him as beans,
and thinks that he is in the right.

The kid, the kid, listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it two guilden cash.
Khad-gad yo, khad gad yo.

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Yitskhok Pirozshnikov’s Khad-gadyo (from the Zemereshet website):

A peysekhdike lidele
vil ikh zingen mit a nign:
A muser far di eltere
un far kinder a fargenign.

A mayse with a tsigele
hert oys ovus-uvonim,
der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Di umshuldike tsigele,
zi shpringt arayn in hoyf.
Plutsling kumt a beyze kats
un khapt un frest ir of.

Refrain:

Di tsigele, di tsigele
hert oys ovos-uvonim,
der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Der hunt hot faynt di kats
dos treft zikh al-pi-rov
Er klert nit lang un khapt ir on
un makht fun ir a sof.

Der hunt iz dokh dem shtekn vert:
er iz dokh beyz un shlekht;
Der shtekn git im klep, vi bob,
un meynt, az er iz gerekht.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele….

Di fayer hot di gantse zakh
arayngebrakht in tsorn;
Der shtekn falt im tsu arayn
un iz farbrent gevorn.

Dos vaser libt dem fayer nit
zey zenen nit keyn por.
Er fleytst dem fayer arum un arum
un lesht im oys biz gor.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele

Der oks farshteyt keyn khokhmes nit;
zayn kop iz nor in mogn.
Er kumt tsum vaser un trinkt es oys.
ver hot im vos tsu zogn?

Der shoykhet git mitn khalef a fir –
funem oks iz nisht gevorn.
Der shoykhet meynt, az yedes oks
iz nor farn khalef geborn.

Der shoykhet hot bakumen zayn loyn,
un gor nit oyf katoves.
Er hot mit zayn lebn batsolt zayn shuld
aleyn dem malekh-hamoves.

Nor got, der har, hot shoyn bashtimt,
di umrekht tsu fardarbn.
Un der vos brengt durkhoys dem toyt
zol aleyn glaykh shtarbn.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele…

Translation:

A Passover song
I want to sing with a melody:
A lesson for the elders
and for the children – a pleasure.

Khad-gadyo! Khad-gadyo!

A tale about a kid
listen fathers and sons,
the father had paid for her
two guilden in cash.

The innocent kid
jumps into the yard.
Suddenly comes an evil cat
and catches it and eats it up.

REFRAIN

The kid, the kid
listen fathers and sons,
the father had paid for it
two guildens cash.

The dog hates the cat,
as happens most of the time.
He doesn’t think long and catches it
and puts an end to her.

The dog deserves the stick;
he is so mean and bad;
The beatings are as many as beans
and he believes, that he is in the right.

Refrain: A kid, a kid…

Fire was so disturbed by the whole thing
he became furious.
He got a hold of the stick
and burnt it.

Water does not love fire;
they are not a pair.
He floods the fire all around,
and puts it out completely.

Refrain: A kid, a kid

The ox does not joke around;
his head is in his gut.
He comes to the water and drinks it up.
Who is going to tell him otherwise?

The slaughterer give a slice with his blade
and the ox is no more.
The slaughterer thinks that every ox
was given life just for his blade.

REFRAIN..a kid, a kid

The slaughterer got his reward
and we are not kidding.
With his life he paid his debt
to the angel of death.

But God, the master, had determined
this injustice to corrupt.
And he who only brings death
met his own death.

REFRAIN: A kid, a kid

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“Yaninke” Performed by Josh Waletzky

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Pete Rushefsky

One of the leading contemporary composers of Yiddish song, Josh Waletzky (b. 1948) grew up in a family that was deeply embedded in the secular Yiddish world of Camp Boiberik and the Sholem Aleichem folkshuln.

Photograph of Josh Waletzky by Jenny Levison

As Itzik Gottesman writes “Camp Boiberik was a secular Yiddish culture camp which existed from 1923 to 1979 near Rhinebeck, New York (the camp site is now owned by the Omega Institute). Camp Boiberik was part of the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute, a non-political Yiddish cultural organization with its center in New York and Sholem Aleichem Folk shuln (schools) in a number of states in the U.S. The Director and guiding spirit for most of Camp Boiberik’s existence was Leibush Lehrer (1887-1964), a leading Yiddish pedagogue, writer, philosopher and lyricist.” The camp took its name from a mythical vacation resort described by Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem.

Waletzky’s mother, Tsirl, was born in 1921 to parents who had immigrated to New York from Galicia. While her parents maintained a traditionally observant household, Tsirl became involved in the secular Yiddish movement, finding her niche as a visual artist.

Tsirl Waletzky at Camp Boiberik

Tsirl illustrated a large number of publications by secular Yiddish organizations such as the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute and the Arbeter Ring (Workmen’s Circle). Readers may be most familiar with Tsirl’s illustrations for the popular songbooks compiled by Khane and Yosl Mlotek for the Arbeter Ring, Mir Trogn a Gezang, Pearls of Yiddish Song and Songs of Generations. For many years, Tsirl taught art workshops at Boiberik’s adult resort.  Her artwork can be seen today in a number of museums.

Waletzky’s father, Sholom (1919-1975), was from a family active in the early years of the American Yiddish culture movement.  Sholom’s parents Moyshe (Morris) and Fradl (Frieda) were both from Mezritsh, near Lublin (in what is today Poland), but they met and married after immigrating to New York. Moyshe and Fradl were founding contributors to the relocated YIVO Institute in New York, the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute and Camp Boiberik.

Sholom Waletzky spent two years at the University of Wisconsin, but did not graduate. He enlisted in the Army during World War II, and after serving returned to New York to work in the plumbing trade for his father. Sholom joined the plumber’s union and once even picketed his father’s shop during a strike!  Later Sholom became a general contractor involved with renovation projects, and managed public works projects for the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey.

Sholom Waletzky

Josh describes his father as a “sponge” for songs. During the 1930s, Sholom even sang in a German chorus in New York.  He was known in the Sholem Aleichem community as an excellent singer with a wide repertoire, and was often called on to perform at programs as well as informally at parties, or at long singing sessions held at the Boiberik adult resort’s tea house.  He recorded an album of holiday songs for the Sholem Aleichem shuln.

Tsirl and Sholom met in the yugnt-fareyn (youth organization) of the Sholem Aleichem movement, and settled down to have three children (Josh is the middle child), first in New Jersey and then the Bronx.  Josh remembers Sholom frequently singing for the family in the home and on long car trips. Josh writes “my father’s transfixing Yiddish songs spoke to me directly of his inner life, even as they connected me to a communal past in Eastern Europe and the New York City of his youth.”

Passover seders were a showcase for the family’s song repertoire. Josh remembers many member of his grandparent’s generation having a particular song that they were known for, and could be expected to sing at the seder table .

Josh grew up with his family spending summers at Camp Boiberik, and there he continued to expand his own song repertoire and knowledge of the culture. At age nineteen, Josh was appointed Boiberik’s Music Director, a post formerly held by a succession of Yiddish music luminaries such as composers Lazar Weiner and Vladimir Heifetz, and musicologist Khane Mlotek.

Camp Boiberik, 1940s. Tsirl Waletky is on the left side of the front row; composer Vladimir Heifetz is third from right in the back row; Alfie Fogel, a sculptor and occasional lyricist, is second from right in the back row.

During eight years as Music Director, Waletzky was responsible for compiling and composing songs for camp programs, including the annual felker yontev (peace festival) and mit-sezon (mid-season) pageants, and Friday night and Saturday morning services.

He frequently collaborated with Fishl Kolko, Boiberik’s Culture Director, on developing new musical/theatrical material for the camp, and revitalized an older Boiberik tradition of writing original musicals for the camp. Though a secular Yiddishist, Kolko had a wide knowlege of East European Yiddish culture, including Hasidism. Kolko was highly influential in Josh’s musical development, encouraging him to create new musical settings of Yiddish poetry.

Josh continued to work at Boiberik during the summer while an undergraduate at Harvard and a graduate student in film at NYU. In 1970, he collaborated with Zalmen Mlotek to compose the musical Chelm, undzer shtetl (Chelm, Our Town), and later contributed a number of compositions to the 1977 album Vaserl (Water), both commissioned by Yugntruf-Youth for Yiddish.

In 1979 Josh helped to found Kapelye, one of the seminal bands of the early klezmer revival. Kapelye included a number of other pioneering musicians working to revitalize Yiddish music – Michael Alpert (vocals/violin), Eric Berman (tuba), Lauren Brody (vocals/accordion/piano), Ken Maltz (clarinet) and Henry Sapoznik (vocals/violin).  Josh is featured on vocals and piano on Kapelye’s debut album, Future and Past (1981).

During the 1980s Josh directed, edited and composed the scores for two acclaimed documentaries about Jewish life in eastern Europe, Image Before My Eyes (1981) and Partisans of Vilna (1986). The Partisans soundtrack co-produced by Waletzky was nominated for a Grammy.

Waletzky also directed the Oscar-nominated 1992 film Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann about the legendary Hollywood film composer, and edited the 1995 Emmy-award winning PBS documentary, In the Fiddler’s House, about violinist Itzhak Perlman’s explorations in klezmer music.

Waletzky’s 2001 album of new compositions, Crossing the Shadows (Ariber di shotns), reflected material he had developed over two decades, and stands alongside Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s albums as one of the most important contemporary contributions to the canon of Yiddish song.

Through a successful career as a filmmaker (including directing and producing documentaries about Schaechter-Gottesman and Yiddish writer Itche Goldberg for The League of Yiddish), Waletzky continues to compose, and is currently collaborating with younger musicians such as clarinetist/composer Michael Winograd.

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week (and the blog’s first video posting) is a performance by Josh of Yaninke, a song he learned from his father, Sholom. As Josh tells it, Yaninke is the first song he remembers learning from his father, perhaps because of the repetitive form.

Josh does not recall his grandparents ever singing the song, and speculates that Sholom learned it through the Sholem Aleichem movement. “Yaninke” is a Slavic name, and the narrative’s bucolic setting might lead one to suspect that it is a Yiddish version of a Slavic peasant folksong.

A variant of Yaninke, Oyf di vegelekh (On the Paths), was recorded by folklore scholar Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett in Toronto in 1969 from her cousin Mariam Nirenberg, and released on the 1986 album Folksongs in the East European Jewish Tradition (Global Village Music). YIVO published a folio to accompany the Nirenberg recording providing extensive biographical and musicological annotations prepared by Kirshenblatt-Gimblett with Mark Slobin and Khane Mlotek.

The folio authors identify three published collections containing variants of the song: “This song about Yaninka appeared previously in Lomir ale zingen 51, with a melodic variant, and in a mimeographed collection Lider vos vern gezungen in der arbeter-ring shul, Nov. 1937, no. 79 with a note that the song is from Russian. The same melody with other words ‘Oyf di felder vu s’veyen vintn’ (appears) in Beregovski-Fefer 456, Saculet no. 125.”  Nirenberg learned the song in the 1920s in Tsharnovtshits (Czarnawczyce, Poland), just across the Bug River from Brisk Litovsk (Brest, Belarus). An excerpt of Nirenberg’s recording follows:

I recorded Nirenberg’s version of the song with Boston-based Yiddish singer Rebecca Kaplan Muranaka on our CD Oyf di vegelekh/On the Paths: Yiddish Songs with Tsimbl (Yiddishland Records, 2004). We included a newly-composed instrumental entitled the “Yanyinke Sirba” as a “chaser.” You can hear our performance here:

And finally we have Josh Waletzky’s performance of Yaninke.  Recorded November 8, 2010 at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and the Center for Jewish History’s program Josh Waletzky – Boiberik and Beyond: Yiddish Songs for the 21st Century. The program was presented as part of CTMD and CJH’s An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture Series.

Di zun in feld iz lang fargangen, (3x)
kumt Yaninke klaybn zangen. (2x)

The sun in the field has long set,
Yaninke comes gathering sheaves.

Es loyfn vegn iber vegn, (3x)
kum, Yaninke, zets zikh lebn. (2x)

Roads are running over roads,
Come, Yaninke, sit down next to me.

Ikh vel zikh lebn dir nit zetsn, (3x)
vayl mentshn veln mikh nit shetsn. (2x)

I won’t sit next to you,
People won’t think well of me.

Vos art es dir vos mentshn zogn?
Vos art es dir vos mentshn redn?
Vos art es dir vos mentshn zogn?
Loyf, Yaninke, khvel dikh yogn.

What do you care what people say?
What do you care what people talk?
What do you care what people say?
Run, Yaninke, and I’ll chase you.

Koym khap ikh dikh, dan blaybstu mayne. (3x)
Loyf, Yanyinke, bist a fayne. (2x)

If I catch you, you’ll be mine.
Run, Yaninke, you’re a fine one.

Az du bist a fayne, dos veysn ale, (3x)
kum, yaninke, zay mayn kale. (2x)

Everyone knows you’re a fine one,
Come, Yaninke, be my bride.

Waletzky additionally recalls a verse that he often performs as the opening verse of the song, though his father did not sing it:

Af di felder, vu di vintn vyeyen (3x)
geyt Yaninke korn zeyen. (2x)

On the fields, where the winds are blowing,
Yaninke goes sowing rye.

Below is a scan of the lyrics of Nirenberg’s version from the Kaplan/Rushefsky CD (typography by Ari Davidow, Yiddish keyboarding by Itzik Gottesman):