Archive for Stonehill Collection

“Shtiler, shtiler ovntvint” Performed by Yudeska (Yehudis) Eisenman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Shtiler, shtiler ovntvint (Silent, silent evening wind) is the third song on the blog sung by Yehudis/ Yudeska Eisenman from a 1993 field recording made by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman in the Bronx.

Best-Sights-Tour2
The Fields of Bessarabia

Another recording of the song Shtiler, shtiler ovntvint is found in The Stonehill Jewish Song Archive – a different blog of  the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, directed by Dr. Miriam Isaacs. The singer in the Stonehill collection, Menachem Brayer  says “This is a Ukrainian song in honor of the fighters for freedom.  The words are by me, the melody – unknown.” The link to that slow moving performance of a shortened version of the song is here.

Though Brayer seems to be claiming that he wrote the words to the song, it appears that it is a poem by the Yiddish writer Jacob (Yakov) Fichman (1881 – 1958) from Bălţi, Bessarabia (a town immortalized in the song “Mayn shtetele Belz”. I have yet to find the poem itself but Fichman’s authorship is cited in a work by Shmuel Shapiro  אשר לאורם הלכתי (1965),  p. 274.

Brayer sings the song in the context of the Holocaust; Eisenman does not.

1) Shtiler, shtiler ovntvint,
kumst fun vaytn land atsind.
Kumst fun stepes on an ek,
kumst fun yamen on a breg,
vu di grozn hoyden zikh,
vu di khvalyes soyden zikh.

2) Kiler, shtiler ovntvint
brengst derkvikn undz atsind;
reykhes libe funem feld,
bsures gute tsu der velt.
Un du roymst undz ale ayn
S’vet fun itst shoyn beser zayn.

3) Voyl iz dem vos vakht vi du,
brengst dem elntn zayn ru.
Treyst dem shvakhn un farvigst
biz der mitog kert tsurik.
Un du roymst undz ale ayn –
S’vet fun itst shoyn beser zayn.

Unidentified voice: Alevay!

1) Silent, silent evening wind
you are now coming from afar.
You come from the endless steppes.
You come from the seas which have no end.
Where the grasses sway back and forth;
where the waves whisper to each other.

2) Cool, quiet evening wind,
you refresh us now:
nice scents from the field,
good news to the world.
And you whisper to everyone:
it will be better from now on.

3)  Happy is he who keeps watch as you,
bringing the lonely their peace.
You comfort the weak and lull to sleep,
till the noon hour returns.
And you whisper to everyone –
It will be better from now on.

Spoken by unidentified person:  “Alevay!”  [If only it comes true!]
shtiler1sthiler2

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“Brider, Zog” by Sholem Berenshteyn

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Brider, zog (Brother, Say) is by the 19th century Yiddish poet Sholem Berenshteyn. No one seems to be sure of his life dates (and not even his first name – some say Shmuel) but he lived in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, and died before 1880. In 1869 he published his collection Magazin fun yidishe lider far dem yidishn folk in Zhitomir, which was reprinted several times.

The best source for his biography is Zalmen Reisin‘s Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, volume 1. Reisin considers him one of the first Yiddish folkpoets and even the poet Mikhl Gordon („Maskhe‟, „Di bord‟) considered him a better poet than himself. As Reisin points out, his work sometimes touches upon typical maskilic themes (anti-Hasidic, Russian patriotism) but he mostly stays clear of them, and his most popular poems became songs with traditional themes such as Brider zog and Sholem-Aleykhem which the Bessarabian folksinger Arkady Gendler sings on his recording, released in 2001, Mayn shtetele Soroke, produced by Jeanette Lewicki.

The most extensive discusssion of the song Brider, zog is in Joseph and Chana Mlotek‘s book Perl fun der yidisher poezye which was recently translated into English by Barnett Zumoff as Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, Ktav Publishing. The song was originally titled Zmires has 15 verses; what was sung were the first four verses.

I have attached the Yiddish words and music in the version found in Z. Kisselhof‘s Lider zamlung far der yidisher shul un familye, St. Petersburg 1911 which is very close to the version sung here.

The unidentified singer is clearly more of a „pro‟ than we are used to hearing in the songs posted on this blog. But listening to her interpretation of khasidic song does raise interesting questions about the “art song” interpretation of khasidic style. The late, great Masha Benya, among others, comes to mind in this regard. This singer turns a song, which melodically could be quite boring, into an interesting performance.

I know this song from my mother, Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, who learned it from her mother, Lifshe Schaecther Widman, and the words as they are sung here are almost exactly the same (we sing „Ver vet lakhn, un khoyzek makhn…‟).

Thanks again to Lorin Sklamberg, sound archivist at YIVO, who allowed us to post another song from the YIVO Stonehill collection.

A folkslid…khsidish.
A folksong, khasidic.

Brider zog, vi heyst der tog,
ven mir ale zenen freylekh?
Der yidele, der kleyner, der kusherer, der sheyner
Iz dokh dan a meylekh.

Tell me brother what is the day called
when we are all joyous?
The Jew, the little one, the kosher one, the beautiful,
Then feels himself like a king.

Shabes aleyn, kimt tsu geyn,
Freyt aykh kinder ale!
Oy tantst kinder, yederere bazinder,
Lekoved der heyliker kale.

The Sabbath itself arrives,
Be happy all you children!
O, dance children, each on his own,
in honor of the holy bride.

Dos iz klor, vi a hor
az shabes is di kale.
Der khusndl der sheyner, iz nit keyner.
Nor mir yidelekh ale.

This is obvious as a hair,
that Sabbath is the bride.
The beautiful groom is no one else
but all of us Jews.

Un ver es lakht, un khoyzek makht.
Fun der kale-khusn.
Der vet take esn a make
fun der side-levyusn.

And he who laughs, and mocks
the groom and bride.
He will indeed eat nothing
at the Leviathan-feast.

o, brider zog….