Archive for spring

“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:

“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!”

 

“Mentshn shteyt oyf gants fri” Performed by Avi Fuhrman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2020 by yiddishsong

Mentshn shteyt oyf gants fri / People, Wake Up Early
A version of  “Der gevisser may” by Yitskhok-Yoel Linetski
Sung by Avi Fuhrman, recorded by Itzik Gottesman at Circle Lodge camp, 1984


Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Yiddish songs written about May in the 1890s and 1900s, were, of course, related to May 1st and the worker’s movement. But Yitskhok-Yoel Linetski published this in 1869 in his collection Der beyzer marshelik, before May 1 acquired its social significance. So it’s a song about “the merry month of May”. Here is a version recorded I recorded from Avi Fuhrman at the Circle Lodge camp in Upstate New York in 1984.

AviFuhrmanAvi Fuhrman at Circle Lodge (photo by Itzik Gottesman)

This is now the third Linetski song on the blog: “Di mode” (sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman) and “Der shpigl mitn zeyger” (also sung by Furhman) were previously posted. The original song entitled “Der geviser may” [The well-known May] has thirteen verses plus the refrain. Furhman’s version includes verses one, five and nine and the refrain.

In the Ruth Rubin Archive singer Sam Gold from Lipkan, Bessarabia, sings a similar version: “Shteyt nor oyf mentshn gants fri“.  His third verse is verse eleven in Linetski’s text. The link to that version can be heard here. 

TRANSLITERATION

Mentshn shteyt oyf gants fri.
Dervakht fun ayer geleyger.
Hert di sheyne harmoni
fun dem natirlekhn zeyger.
Vi di beymelekh royshn un feygelekh zingen.
Melodis zingen feygelekh alerley.
Heysheriklekh tantsn un shpringen
Un tsim takt iz du der solovey.

[REFRAIN]:
Mentshn makht aykh fray.
git iber ayere gedanken gur.
Tsu deym may, deym zisn may
di kroyn fun der heyliker natur

Batrakh nor, ikh beyt aykh, dem altn boym
Er iz naket un a blat.
Der may nemt im shoyn di mus
Un tit im un a grinem khalat.
Batrakht nor atsinder dem altn shturmak
er hot dokh shoyn gur an ander punem.
Er bakimt shoyn oykh a bisl farb in der bak
Un shtipt zikh shoyn tvishn ale makhetunim.

[REFRAIN]

Leygt avek damen, mamzeln
fargenign fun zilber un gold.
Treyt nor ariber di shveln
in shpatsirt af der shtut bizn tifn vald.
Batrakht nor di royz, zi trugt kayn briliantn nit.
Shener iz zi, akh’ lebn, [vi] a sakh fun aykh.
Zi trugt nisht keyn perln un dimantn
un komplimentn hot zi mer fun aykh.

[REFRAIN]

TRANSLATION

People, arise real early.
Awaken from your beds.
Listen to the beautiful harmony
from the clock of nature,
how the trees rustle and birds sing.
The birds sing all kinds of melodies.
Crickets dance and jump
and in rhythm is the nightingale. 

[REFRAIN]:
People make yourselves free.
Give over all of your thoughts
to May, the sweet May,
the crown of the holy nature. 

Consider, I ask you, the old tree.
He is naked, not a leaf.
May takes his measurements
And dresses him in a new robe.
Consider now that old dotard.
He has a completely different appearance.
He is getting a little color in his cheek.
And pushes his way through among the in-laws.

[REFRAIN]

Put away, ladies and misses,
your pleasure of silver and gold.
Step over the doorsteps
and take a walk through the city to the deep woods.
Consider the rose: it wears no diamonds.
It is more beautiful, I swear, than many of you.
It wears no pearls, no diamonds.
Yet she gets more complements than you.

[REFRAIN]

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 12.51.22 PM

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 12.56.10 PM

Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 12.56.50 PM

Below: Linetski’s original text “Geviser may” in Beyzer Marshelik (1869):
Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 1.09.56 PMScreenshot 2020-04-23 at 1.10.19 PMScreenshot 2020-04-23 at 1.10.33 PM

“Du vint du shtifer” Performed by Leo Summergrad

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The song Du vint du shtifer, (You wind, you prankster) was learned by Leo Summergrad in the Bronx Mitl Shule of the IWO  (International Worker’s Order) in either 1938, 1939, or 1940.  The recording presented here was made in the 1950’s.

leo summergrad

Leo Summergrad, picture by the
Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project

Summergrad’s music teachers would have been either Vladimir Heifetz  (1893 – 1970) or Irving R. Korenman, both well-known composers associated with the Jewish left.

More on these composers can be found in the papers of Vladimir Heifetz at YIVO. The author and composer of “Du vint du shtifer” will probably also be found in Heifetz’s papers.

Du vint, du shtifer

A lid a freylekhs zing undz oys
du vint, du shtifer,
du vint du shtifer
du vint du shtifer.

Host oysgenishtert hoykhe berg
in yamen tife,
un umetum hostu a lid gehert.

Zing undz vint fun di berg shver tsu greykhn
un bahaltene soydes fun yam.
fun foyglen in di heykhn
fun bloyen rum dem bleykhn
fun mutikayt vos veyst keyn tsam.

Ver gevoynt s’iz in kamf zikh tsu shteln
Zol mit undz itser zingen on shrek.
Biz freylekh vestu kveln,
un vilstu vestu poylen
un zukhstu nor, gefinst dayn veg.

A lid a freylekhs zing undz oys
du vint, du shtifer,
du vint du shtifer
du vint du shtifer.

Host oysgenishtert hoykhe berg
in yamen tife,
un umetum hostu a lid gehert.

Zing a lid vos in dem zol klingen
ale lider fun friling geshpreyt.
Az lipn zoln zingen,
dos harts fun glik zol shpringen,
zikh hoybn zoln fis far freyd.

Ver gevoynt s’iz in kamf zikh tsu shteln
zol mit undz itser zingen on shrek.
Biz freylekh vestu kveln,
un vilstu vestu poylen
un zukhstu nor, gefinst dayn veg.

TRANSLATION (by Leo Summergrad)

You Wind You Prankster

Sing us a happy song,
You wind you prankster.
You have explored high mountains and deep seas,
And everywhere you heard a song.

Sing us, wind, of the peaks hard to scale,
Of hidden secrets of the sea,
Of birds on high, of blueness in the heavens,
Of a spirit that has no bounds.

Refrain:

Whoever is accustomed to go into battle,
Should sing with us, without fear.
If you are happy, you will be joyful,
And if you desire, you’ll succeed.
And if you seek, you will find your way.

Sing us a happy song,
You wind, you prankster.
You have explored high mountains and deep seas,
And everywhere you heard a song.

Sing a song in which should ring out
All the songs of Spring, combined.
That lips should sing,
And the heart jump with happiness,
And feet shall rise with joy.

Refrain

duvint1.JPGduvint2duvint3duvint4