Archive for Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center

“Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner / I am a Small Gypsy (Rom) Lad
Pre-war version from Chernovitz, Romania.
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The more popular song version of this poem by Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) was composed by Hertz Rubin (1911 – 1958) and has been recorded by at least thirteen artists. According to Chana and Yosl Mlotek in Songs of Generations, the singer Masha Benya received that version from Manger’s widow Genia Manger after the second world war in NY.

MangerItzik Manger in his Chernovitz days, 1920s

But this earlier version has a different melody, and slightly different words without the “Ekh du fidele du mayn” refrain. BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, which was Romania between the world wars and is now in the Ukraine.

Manger’s lyrics carry a number of commonly-held negative stereotypes about Romany (Gypsy) culture. However, considering the time in which he was writing, through first-person narration, Manger creates a sympathetic window into the challenges faced by Roma including poverty, oppression, and a sense of otherness as a minority community. The ever-wandering Manger, no doubt, felt like a kindred spirit.

In the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO, Sore Kessler sings this Chernovitz version and explains she learned it from the Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir in Montreal. Shaffir was also from the Bukovina region (not Bessarabia as Kessler says in her spoken introduction), and a friend of BSG. Some of Kessler’s text differs and she sings a verse that BSG does not:

Shtendik zaynen mir af vegn,
mir af vegn.
Say bay nakht,
un say in regn.

Always are we travelling,
travelling [on the roads.]
Both at night
and in the rain.

Accordionist Mishka Zignaoff (who was a Yiddish-speaking Russian Rom musician based in New York) recorded the melody as Galitzianer khosid (Galician Hasid) in a medley with the famous Reb Dovidl’s nign.

I am posting this song to mark Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s 5th yortsayt (1920 – 2013) which falls on the second candle of khanike.

BeyleItzikTapes2Beyle and Itzik Gottesman looking over Yiddish field recordings, 1970s.

TRANSLITERATION

BSG Spoken: [Itzik Manger] iz geveyn maner a landsman, un hot geredt Yidish vi ekh. Vel ikh zingen in durem-yidish azoy vi er hot geredt. “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” un di lider vus ikh zing zenen a bisele, tsi mul, andersh vi ir zingt zey, val ikh ken zey nokh fun der heym.

1) Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner, gur a kleyner
ober vi ir zeyt a sheyner.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Ikh veys nisht vi ikh bin geboyrn, bin geboyrn.
Di mame hot mikh in steppe farloyrn
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

2) Dem tatn hot men oyfgehongen, oyfgehongen
Vayl er iz ganvenen gegangen
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Burves, hingerik un freylekh, ober freylekh
Fil ikh zikh vi a ben-meylekh.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

3) In mayn lidl kent ir hern, kent ir hern
Mayn tatns zifts, mayn mames trern.
Tra-La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

S’kost in gantsn nor a drayer, nor eyn drayer.
S’iz mayn veytik gurnisht tayer.
Trala-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

TRANSLATION

BSG Spoken: “[Itzik Manger] was from the same city as me and spoke Yiddish as I do. So I will sing in the southern Yiddish that he spoke.  “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” and the other songs that I will sing are a little different than the way you sing them because I learned them form home.”

I’m a small Gypsy lad, a very small Gypsy lad,
But as you see good-looking.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I don’t know where I was born, was born.
My mother lost me somewhere in the Steppes.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

They hanged my father, hanged my father
Because he went thieving.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Barefoot, hungry and merry, always merry.
I feel like a prince.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

In my song you can hear, can hear
My father’s sigh, my mother’s tears.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

It will only cost you three kopecks.
My suffering doesn’t cost much at all.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la
tsigaynerl 1

tsigaynerl 2

tsigaynerl3

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Merke Levine Performs “Mayn harts, mayn harts”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mayn harts, mayn harts / My heart, my heart
Sung by Merke (Mary) Levine, recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Bronx, July 6, 1991

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer Merke (Mary) Levine was from Belarus and came to NY after the first world war. She lived in the Bronx and was active in the Yiddish left, and later in life was a board member of the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx. Her husband Tevye Levine was a teacher in the Arbeter ordn folkshuln.

merkeMerke (Mary) Levine

This love song Mayn harts, mayn harts is found twice in the YIVO Ruth Rubin on-line collection. There it is sung both by Golde Fried and her husband Israel (Sruli) Freed with the same melody and only minor textual differences.

In terms of  Yiddish folksong poetry, what stands out is the line “Mayne gedanken – ahin, aher”, which I translated as “My thoughts – any way you look at it”.  The expression “ahin-aher” or “hin-her” can also mean “after long discussion”, or “to get to the point”

TRANSCRIPTION

Mayn harts, mayn harts veynt in mir.
Ikh darf zikh sheydn itst mit dir.
Mayne gedanken – ahin-aher.
Mit dir tsu sheydn iz mir shver.

Vu forstu mayn zis lebn?
Vu forstu fun mir avek?
Vu vel ikh dir darfn zukhn?
Zog zhe mir in velkhn veg?

Fun yedn shtetele, fun yedn derfele,
a brivele shraybn zolstu mir.
Betn, bet ikh dir mayn zis lebn,
nit fargesn zolstu mir.

TRANSLATION

My heart, my heart cries in me.
I must now part with you.
My thoughts – anyway you look at it: [lit: this way, that way]
to leave you is hard for me.

Where are you traveling my dear love?
Where are you traveling and leaving me?
Where will I have to search for you?
Tell me in which way?

From each town, from each village
you should write me a letter.
I ask of you, my dear love,
please not to forget me.

mayn harts yiddish

A Second Melody for “Katshke grin” Performed by Abba Rubin

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

A Second Melody for “Katshke grin”
Performed by Abba Rubin, recorded by Rachel Rubin 1991.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

The Yiddish children’s song “Katshke grin”, also known as “Geyt arum a grine katshke” and “Grine katshke”,  has been recorded but with a different melody. This week we present a previously unknown melody for the song. The singer, Abba Rubin, was recorded by his daughter Rachel Rubin at the same field recording session as the previously posted Burekes af Peysekh in 1991.

greenduck

The words to Katshke grin were written by artist and writer Zuni Maud (1891 – 1956) and printed in Kinder Zhurnal, a monthly Yiddish children’s magazine published by the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute in NYC, where he often contributed poetry and drawings.

Zuni Maud’s frequent collaborator was artist/writer Yosl Cutler and together they created the first successful Yiddish puppet theater Modicut (1925 – 1933) in NY. According to Edward Portnoy who wrote on the radical Modicut troupe, Mikhl Gelbart and Moyshe Rappaport wrote much of the music for Modicut, so perhaps one of them was the composer of one or both of the melodies.

Mariam Nirenberg sings Grine katshke with another melody on her record Folksongs in the East European Tradition: Mariam Nirenberg (Global Village GV M117).  You can hear Niremberg’s version on iTunes. She only sings one verse and the duck has a red nose, not a broad one as in Rubin’s version. Nirenberg emigrated from her town Czarnawcyce, Poland (Yiddish = Tsharnovtshits) to Canada in 1932.

The song, with Nirenberg’s melody, become more popular recently thanks to the CD recording Di grine katshke/The Green Duck (Living Traditions, 1997).  There it is sung with four verses by Henry Sapoznik.

Thanks for their help for this week’s post go to Abba Rubin, Edward Portnoy and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. 

TRANSLITERATION

Katshke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

Geyt arum a grine katshke,
geyt arum un trakht.
volt zi davenen shakhris
falt shoyn tsu di nakht.

Katshke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

Geyt arum a grine katshke
geyt arum un kayt.
Volt zi brokn lokshn
hot zi nit keyn tsayt.

Katshke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

Geyt arum a grine katshke
mit a breyter noz.
Volt zi shmekn tabak
hot zi nisht mit vos.

Kashke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

TRANSLATION

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

A green duck wanders,
wanders and thinks:
She would pray the morning prayers
but night has just fallen.

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

A green duck wanders,
wanders and chews.
She would cut up the noodles,
but she doesn’t have the time.

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

A green duck wanders,
with a wide nose.
She would smell tobacco,
but she doesn’t have with what.

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

katchke1katchke2katchke3