Archive for shadkhn

“Kimt der shadkhn Shame” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Ordinarily, I would not include such a fragmentary performance in this blog, as this version of Kimt der shadkhn Shame (the name “Shame” is pronounced with two syllables “Sha-me,” rhymes with “mame”) performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW). But the investigation into the song is intriguing. I broadcast an earlier version of this research in Yiddish on the Yiddish Forward Radio Hour on WEVD seven or eight years ago. My commentary here will also be abbreviated.

At a yard sale in Monticello, NY, the heart of the Jewish Catskills, I bought several old Yiddish 78s including one with two songs by Leon Kalisch recorded in Lemberg 1905-06. Kalisch was part of the Lemberg Yiddish theater world revolving around „Gimpel‘s Teater‟ (see: Gimpel‘s grandson‘s website; Michael Aylwards forthcoming article on Gimpel‘s theater and Jewish recordings in Lemberg on his website; and the entry on Kalisch and Gimpel in the Yiddish theater Lexicon).

Leon Kalisch

Additionally, Kalisch‘s songs and other Lemberg Yiddish singers are featured on Gerda and Franz Lechleitner‘s „phonomuseum‟ website. When I heard Kalisch sing „Der schames‟ I immediately recognized LSW‘s song:

 The 78 record label indicated that Der schames originated from the Yosef Lateiner (1853-1935) play Der seder, and I fortunately was able to buy a copy but did not find the song in the text. I donated the 78s I bought at the yard sale to Lorin Sklamberg at the YIVO sound archives and he transferred them to CD for me and he turned me onto other recordings with what I call the „Lena From Palesteena‟ melody-motif. By this I mean the melody of the phrase “Lena is the Queen of Palesteena just because she plays the concertina.”

The popular 1920s song „Lena from Palesteena” was written by Con Conrad and J. Russel Robinson, and first recorded with words by Eddie Cantor in 1920. Here is a great old version by Frank Crumit:

On page 81 of his book Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World, Henry Sapoznik connects the melody to the klemzer tune Noch A bisl played here by accordionist Mishka Ziganoff in 1921. 

Lorin Sklamberg identified the Romanian language recording Colo’n Gradnita (There in the Little Garden) performed by S. Bernardo, no date, recorded in Bucharest, with only piano accompaniment. Bernardo is a great singer, obviously Jewish and includes “Oy veys” and some other Yiddish words:

Sklamberg also found a recording of a young Aaron Lebedeff singing the song Tate ziser (Syrena 12560) recorded in Europe (Warsaw?), no date but probably the late 1910s, (and no relation to the klezmer tune by that name recorded by several bands). Lebedeff is clearly riffing off Bernardo’s earlier recording:

Finally, Sklamberg dug up Simon Paskal’s Eppess noch, with words by Louis Gilrod, recorded in New York, 1913 – A typical comical Yiddish theater song about American Jewish life, with emphasis on food (Noch a bisl, Eppess noch – there seems to be a theme emerging).

There is much more to write about the musical reincarnations of the „Lena from Palesteena‟ motif, and I believe Prof. Martin Schwartz of Berkeley and others can play Greek, Turkish and other people‘s variants of this motif on recordings. It seems to be assumed that the Yiddish use of it came after the Romanian, but the Kalisch recording is the earliest I have found.

Back to LSW‘s song and its connection to Der Schames as sung by Kalisch. The rare rhyme „brie‟ and „Ishes tsnie‟ appears in both, so they are definitely related. Kalisch is about a shames (synagogue beadle); LSW‘s about a shadkhn named Shame. So the two lead characters are also too closely related phonetically to dismiss the notion the songs are from a single source. However, the narratives of the songs differ: LSW‘s Kimt der Shadkhn Shame is ultimately a maskilic song about the Hasidic rebbe, the “Datshn‟ (Germans – modernized Jews) and the „apikorsim,‟ the non-believers; while Kalisch‘s Der shames is clearly a theater song closely related to a play’s plot. In the song collection Der badkhn by (E)Luzer Bergman, Warsaw 1927, 1930, there is included a version that is obviously a variant of LSWs song, including the line about the „apikorsim.‟

LSW’s singing has been presented more than any other on this blog, but in Kimt der shadkhn Shame you can finally hear her perform a more upbeat comic song, even if the song is incomplete. Here is her rendition, recorded in the Bronx by Leybl Kahn in 1954 (the first chorus is incomplete– a long pause in the middle of the recording has been removed):

Kimt a shadkhn Shame
tsi mayn tate-mame
a shidikh hot er gur far mir. 

The matchmaker Shame comes
to my parents;
he has a match just for me. 

A meydl a groyse brie,
un di mame‘z an ishes-tsnie
shoyn in git, es ekt dekh di velt.

A girl, a wonderfully clever girl,
and her mother is a modest woman.
Fine and good – the world comes to an end.

Oy, oy, khotsh nem un gib im shoyn shadkhones-gelt
sheyn in git, es ekt dekh di velt.

Oy, give him the matchmaker‘s fee right away,
Fine and good, the world comes to an end.

[The chorus is incomplete due to a break in the recording]

Kimt a datsh, a higer
tsu mayn fliaskedrige,
a tshive vil er fin im aroys.

A local modern, enlightened Jew,
comes to my unsightly person,
and wants an answer from him, straight away.

Er iz a raykh kind,
un far zayne zind,
batsuln vil er mit a pidyen a gitn.

He is a wealthy child,
and for his sins,
he wants to pay a high fee to the Hasidic rabbi

Oy, oy, vi kent ir dus gor  farshteyn?
Tsitsekikn dem rebns mine, 
ven se brent af im di shkine. 
Apikorsim, vi kent ir dus farshteyn?

Oy, oy, how could you understand this?
To look upon the Rebbe‘s countenance,
when the Divine Presence burns on him;
Apostates! How could you understand.

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“Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

The biography of the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] (1893 – 1973) who grew up in Zvinyace/Zvinyetchke, Bukovina (then part of Austria-Hungary), is given in the very first post of The Yiddish Song of the Week. This week’s song is also taken from the 1954 recordings of her made by Leybl Kahn in NYC.

Formally, “Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele” (“As Soon as the First Wife Dies”) could be considered a classic ballad. The first three verses set the stage for the dialogue between the children and their father. As a narrative though, the last verse, which is sung by the father, leaves no resolution to the hopeless situation at all. 

The melody in ballads almost always stays the same for all the verses.  However, in this song the melody changes for the dialogue verses, becoming more dramatic, as does Lifshe’s moving, mournful singing. 

Ethnographically, the song depicts the poverty of the families at this time; even a piece of bread and butter was considered a delicacy. In her memoirs Durkhgelebt a velt  LSW writes of her own cruel stepfather who would not allow her to eat bread with butter. Her mother, Taube, turned the buttered side of the bread over when the stepfather entered so he would not see it. 


Please note: The dialect of the singer is more accurately reflected in the transliteration than in the Yiddish.

Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele
Koym hot men zi bagrubn.
heybn di shadkhunim arim dem yingn man,
arim zekh tsi yugn.

As soon as the first wife dies,
and has barely been buried.
The matchmakers start chasing
the young man.

Redt men im a vaybele,
iz zi bay im mies (?)/ or perhaps [iz du bay im menies – he finds obstacles, objections]
Redt men im a meydele,
iz zi tsiker zis.

When they try to match him with an older woman
He finds her ugly.
When they try to match hm with a girl,
He finds her sugar sweet.

Zi nemt di kinder tsvugn,
zi rayst zey oys di hor.
Zey loyfn tsum tatn, veynen un klogn.
Er tit zey nokh mer shlogn.

She starts to comb for lice
and pulls out their hair;
They run to their father, crying and moaning,
He beats them even more.

Oy futer, oy futer.
Vi iz indzer miter? Vi iz indzer miter?
Vus zi flegt indz budn,
in milekh un in piter.

Oh father, oh father.
Where is our mother?
Who used to bathe us
in milk and butter.

Oy kinder, oy kinder
Broyt mit piter vet ir esn.
Nor in ayer mamen,
mizt ir shoyn fargesn.

Oh children, oh children,
Bread and butter you will eat.
But your mother
you must now forget.

Oy futer, oy futer,
Broyt mit zalts veln mir esn,
in undzer miter‘s kushere neshome,
kenen mir nit fargesn.

Oh father, oh father
Bread and salt we will eat.
But our mother‘s kosher [pure] soul,
we will never forget.

Oy kinder, oy kinder
Az di shtif-mame vet aykh shlogn,
zolt ir nit kimen tsu mir
mit veynen un klogen.

Oh children, oh children
When the stepmother beats you,
Don‘t come to me,
with moans and cries.

“Der shadkhn” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Ethel Raim

Der shadkhn (The Matchmaker) is a humorous song describing the special skills that a shadkhn needs for his trade. The performer, Clara Crasner, was a truly marvelous singer who possessed a vast repertoire of Yiddish songs. I only regret never having met her or having heard her sing in person. We’re so fortunate that her son-in-law, Bob Freedman, made a recording of her singing in 1972. Clara’s singing is wonderful – feisty, straight forward and yet beautifully nuanced, and narrative to the core.

Picture of Clara Crasner with her daughter Molly Freedman

Here’s an excerpt of Crasner’s biography written by her daughter, Molly Freedman:

“My mother Clara Fireman Crasner was born in 1902 in Shargorod, not far from Vinnitsa, in the Ukraine. She learned many Yiddish songs as a child in the shtetl. She left Shargorod in 1919, stayed in Romania with relatives for two years, (and learned more songs there) while waiting for immigration papers from an older brother in New Jersey. My mother was always singing Yiddish folk songs at home while she did her housework. She knew many, many songs and I learned the songs from her as a child. Clara lived in Philadelphia until about 1970 and then moved to Miami Beach, where she was part of a group of senior citizens who had a regular Yiddish singing session on the beach every day. My husband recorded Clara in 1972 at our home in Philadelphia. She was just singing her favorite songs from memory. She came back to Philadelphia in the mid-80s and lived at the Jewish Geriatric Center where she continued to sing, sometimes alone and also with other seniors. She lived to be 97 and often would remember songs that we had not heard before, while we were driving in the car…  She was the inspiration for my love of Yiddish music and my husband and I continue to collect and share our music through our website at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Click the following link for the The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive.

Itzik Gottesman adds:

A version of the song “Der shadkhn” can be found in the book Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin, page 82-83. There it is called “A shadkhn darf men kenen zayn” and the melody is printed on page 82. Rubin writes that the song originates from the pen of Avrom Goldfaden. The words are somewhat different.

Ethel Raim, Michael Alpert and I traveled to the Yiddish Summer Weimar program the last week of July (2010) to teach traditional unaccompanied Yiddish folksong style – the focus of this blog. Ethel and Michael taught the vocal style, and I spoke on the songs and singers of this tradition. I believe this was, if not the first, then one of the first attempts to pass on this tradition to a new generation of singers, and kudos to Alan Bern, director of Yiddish Summer Weimar, who also co-taught, for his suggestion and decision to teach this. The students were seriously interested in learning the songs and style and were wonderful. Ethel taught another of Clara Crasner’s songs in her class at Weimar “A meydl in di yorn.”

Di lid hot mayn shvegerin gezungen; zi’s a Malover, Podolyer gubernye. Mayn shvegerun un mayn brider zingen es.
Zey zogn az zeyer futer hot es zey oysgelernt, mit a sakh yurn tsurik. Di lid heyst “der shadkhn.”

This song was sung by my sister-in-law. She is from Malov, Podolye. My sister-in-law and my brother sing it.
They say that their father taught it to them many years ago. The song is called “Der shadkhn.”

A shadkhn tsi zayn iz a gute zakh.
Es iz fun Got a brukhe.
Me makht zikh a bisele kushere gelt.
Un me tit nit keyn groyse melukhe.

To be a matchmaker is a good thing.
It is a blessing from G-d.
One earns a little honest money.
And you don’t have to work too hard.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az di mekhiteyniste vil nit di kale
darf men ir makhn meshige
Me darf ir azoy dem kop fardreyen
Zi zol shrayen gevold zi’s a klige!

And if the mother-in-law doesn’t want the bride,
You have to make her go crazy.
You should drive her so nuts,
That she yells “Wow, she’s is a smart one”.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az der mekhitin vil nisht dem khusn.
Darf men im makhn dil.
Me darf im azoy dem kop fardreyen
Er zol shrayen “Gevald ikh vil!”

And if the father-in-law doesn’t want the groom,
You should make him batty.
You should drive him so nuts
that he yells “Wow, I want!”

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az di kale iz finef un tsvantsik yor alt
Fregt der khusn mir.
Zug ikh im az zi’s akhtsin yur
un dus iberike halt ikh mir.

And if the bride is 25 years old
and the groom asks me about it.
I tell him that she’s only 18,
and the leftover years, I will keep for myself.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un biz ikh nem up dus shadkhones-gelt
Tserays ikh tsvey pur shikh.
Un az ikh nem up dus shadkhones-gelt.
Khapt zey ale dus riekh.

By the time I pick up the matchmaker fee
I tear up two pairs of shoes.
And when I finally pick up the matchmaker fee,
The devil take them all!

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.