Archive for Vienna

Two Songs from the Strassenhof Labor Camp by Masha Rolnik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman, Ph.D.

Sadly, as we were preparing this blog entry the Yiddish writer Masha Rolnik (Mascha Rolnikaite) passed away at age 89 in St. Petersburg, on April 7th, 2016. Her Yiddish diary of her experiences during the Holocaust, written as a teenager is entitled Ikh muz dertseyln (I Must Tell). It is considered one of the most important day-by-day descriptions of the Vilna ghetto.

Rolnik

Masha Rolnik

We thank Michael Lukin, researcher and curator of Yiddish song at the Jewish Music Research Centre in Jerusalem for submitting the recording, which he made in St. Petersburg, Russia, November 27, 2013.

In this Yiddish Song of the Week entry we are including a 10 minute unedited recording in which she sings two Yiddish songs written while in a labor camp during the second world war. She then talks about her life during the war. We have translated her introductory spoken remarks and the two songs, as well as transliterations of them.

The two songs that she sings, Der Shtrasenhofer hymn and Sport can be found in Shmerke Kaczerginski’s collection Lider in di getos un lagern (Congress for Jewish Culture, NY, 1948) (pages 228 – 229 and pages 224 – 225). There the author of the songs is listed as “unknown” but from this recording we are made aware that Rolnik wrote the words and apparently borrowed the melody from other songs.

We are attaching scans of the songs in Yiddish from the Kaczerginski collection. Since Rolnik’s versions of the songs vary only slightly from the printed versions, and, in fact, she is singing them from Kaczerginski’s book, we have only provided the Yiddish versions as found in that collection. The music to the Hymn is also found in the Kaczerginski collection and we have included a scan of that as well.

In the Kaczerginski collection, both songs were sung to the collector by Sarah Kogan from Vilna, and her performance of the Hymn can be heard in the Ben Stonehill collection. Also in the Stonehill collection you can hear Kaczerginski himself singing the Strassenhofer Hymn.

There are many websites to find out more about Rolnik’s life, and one can begin with her Wikipedia page. There is a Yad Vashem page on her father, Hirsh Rolnik, who was separated from the family at the beginning of the war. The Yad Vashem website additionally has information on the Strassenhof camp located near Vienna, where almost all the inmates survived.

Masha Rolnik speaks: “Sunday, we worked half a day, so during the second half we were free. That Jews should be free – they could not accept that notion. So we had to march in the camp singing a song that they provided. The song is called ‘We were the masters of the world; now we are’ – you’ll pardon me – ‘the lice of the world.’ I could not accept that. Where I got the melody I don’t know: I am no composer. It was in my head.

SONG 1: DI SHTRASENHOFER HYMN
lyrics: Masha Rolnik, music: unknown

1
Mir zaynen di shtrasenhofer yidn,
Dos “naye eyrope” boyen mir.
Di arbet, vos mir hobn – iz farshidn.
Ober tsores hobn mir on a shir.

REFRAIN:

Akh, shtrasenhof, oy biz tsum haldz bistu mir!
Akh, shtrasenhof, vi vert men poter shoyn fun dir?
Akh, shtrasenhof, ven vet shoyn kumen di tsayt,
un mir veln vider zayn bafrayt?

2
Mitn esn iz do zeyer biter –
Di zup, zi iz epes modne blo,
un dertsu – iz zi azoy shiter
vayl kartofl far undz iz nokh nito.

REFRAIN
3
Di fabrikn-luft bakumt undz nit tsum gutn,
dos veysn mir ale gants genoy.
Es zol beser tsirkulirn undzere blutn,
shikt men zuntik undz afn barakn-boy.

REFRAIN
4
Nor derfun ken men oykh nokh nit shtarbn –
dos meynt men mit undz gornit shlekht;
Mir viln krign in di bakn royte farbn –
Do iz der lager-elterer “gerekht”.

REFRAIN
5
Mit der derloybenish fun eltern fun lager
vert yedn zuntik ovnt muzitsirt,
un loytn bafel fun eltern: oy a shlager,
vert yedn zuntik morgn eksertsirt.

REFRAIN
6
Es muz vern marshirt un gezungen!
Ir tort nit zayn shtayf, vi a bret!
Ir muzst hobn gezunte lungen,
oyb ir vet amol farlozn dem katset!…

1
We are the Shrassenhofer Jews,
We are building the “New Europe”
The work that we do is varied,
But sorrows we have without end.

REFRAIN

Akh, Strassenhof, I am up to my throat with you,
Akh, Strassenhof, how can I get rid of you?
Akh Strassenhof, when will the time return
And we will once more be free?

2
Concerning the food here, it’s very bitter –
The soup, its strangely blue.
In addition – it’s so thin
Because there are no potatos here for us.

REFRAIN
3
The factory air makes us sick.
We all know this too well.
In order for our blood to circulate better
We are sent on Sunday to build barracks.

REFRAIN
4
But yet from this one cannot die –
They have no evil designs on us.
We will get red colors in our cheeks.
The camp elder is right about that.

REFRAIN
5
With the permission of the elders in the camp
Every Sunday we make music.
Following the order of the elders: Oh, a hit song!
Should get exercised every Sunday morning.

REFRAIN
6
We must march and sing!
You cannot be stiff as a board!
You must have healthy lungs,
If you ever want to leave this camp.

REFRAIN

SONG 2: SPORT
words: Masha Rolnik music: unknown

In Strasenhofer lager
derfunden hot men dort
far groys un kleyn,
far yung un alt –
a naye mode – sport.
Ver s’hot dem apel farshlofn,
Ver in nore farzamt zikh hot –
krigt glaykh nokhn apel
dem nayem sport-kompot

REFRAIN:
Oy, Shtrasenhof, farvos zog, Shtrasenhof,
Ikh freg dikh, Shtrasenhof, du veyst gevis.
Der sport iz grod nit shlekht, dos bistu yo gerekht
nor farvos shmartsn nokhdem azoy di fis?

Tsu morgns in fabrik gekumen,
dershlept zikh got-tsu-dank.
Dan nemt a yede brumen:
“Oy, vi bin ikh haynt krank”.
Eyne ken zikh nit rirn,
di tsveyte ken nit geyn,
di drite muz men firn,
di ferte ken nit shteyn.

Refrain – Oy Strasenhof….

Tsu peysekh git men undz
a geshenk gor fayn un shnel:
dray a zeyger ofshteyn
un fir in der apel.
Un Lides shtime hert men
“Ver vil nokh shlofn dort?
Tsi den hot ir fargesn
az ir muzst haynt makhn sport?”

REFRAIN

Mit sport muzn mir oyfshteyn,
mit sport shlofn mir ayn,
sport ahin tui sport aher
Gevald! Ikh ken nit mer!

In Strassenhof camp
They discovered
For big and small,
For young and old –
A new fad – sport.
Whoever slept past the “Apel” [line-up]
Whoever in her corner came late –
The new sport-pudding.

REFRAIN:
Oy Strassenhof, why, tell me, Strassenhof
I ask you Strassenhof; you know for sure.
The sport is actually not bad, in this you are right.
But why afterwards do my legs hurt so much?

Next day I came to the factory
I barely made it, thank God.
Then everyone starts to complain:
“Oy how sick I am today”.
One cannot move.
The other cannot walk.
The third one must be helped,
The fourth cannot stand.

REFRAIN

For Passover they give us
A gift, real fine and fast;
Three o’oclock wake up
And by four at the Appel.
And Lide’s voice can be heard.
Who wants to sleep some more over there,
Did you forget
That you have to do sport today?!

REFRAIN

With sport we must wake up.
With sport we fall asleep.
Sport here, sport there,
Help! I can’t anymore.rolnik intro

strasenhof1
strasenhof2.JPG
strasenhof3
sport1sport2

 

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“Ze vi gru” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by yiddishsong

Ze vi gru (See How Gray)
Performance by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Recorded 2013, Bronx, by Itzik Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Before we enter the new year, let us do our part to remember that 2014 marked 100 years since World War One and post a song about that time.

In memory of her first yortsayt (memorial anniversary), the 2nd day of Khanike, I am posting the last song that I recorded from my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, a few months before she died. At 93 years of age she could still sing well.

DP Beyle LifshaVienna 1948-49. From left: Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, Mitsi Weininger.

I cannot find the full text for the song, but my mother knows it from Chernovitz, which was Romania when she grew up. We both agreed that it was about WWI but have no other information on the song. Could “in akhtsetn geboygn” refer to something else other than 1918? The rhyme “nayes” (news) and “Ashmoday’es” (Asmodeus’s) is wonderfully original.

As usual, any help finding more lyrics to this unusual song would be appreciated.

(The transliterated Yiddish reflects her dialect; the lyrics written in the Yiddish alphabet are transcribed in standard Yiddish.)

Ze vi gru der himl iz.
Gru vi dayne oygn.
S’iz der Balkan shoyn fun tsar
in akhtsetn geboygn.

See how gray the skies are;
Gray as your eyes.
The Balkan has already, from grief,
bent over in the 18th. [1918?]

Kruen brengen psires un.
Loyter shlekhte nayes.
Kruen brengen psires un.
Psires Ashmodayes.

Crows bring us over news,
just bad news.
Crows bring us over news,
News from (or “of”) Ashmodai. [the devil]

ZeViGru

Four Songs, One Melody

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

In this week‘s entry the reader will get four Yiddish songs for the price of one. What connects them is the same melody. I am not the first to write on the popularity of this tune. The Israeli Yiddish song-researcher Meir Noy wrote an article זמר סובב עולם [The tune that circles the world]  in the Israeli publication אומר, April 13, 1962. I could not find the article yet, so am not sure what he includes.

The first song and perhaps the oldest is a beggar song –  Vu zenen mayne vugn un ferd? (Where are my wagon and horse?); the second song  Yosele mit Blimele (Yosele and Blimele) is a typical lyrical love song. These are sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW, 1893 – 1974), recorded in 1954 in NYC and originate from her Bukovina repertoire that she learned in the small town of Zvinyetchke in the 1890s-early 1900s. I have found no variants of the beggar song, and one of Yosele mit blimele (Oy vey mame,  in the Pipe-Noy collection, see below, page 270-71 with music). The first line as my mother remembers it sung was “Vu iz mayn vugn, vu zenen mayne ferd?” which fits better into the melody; it does indeed sound as if  LSW forgot a syllable or two when she sings it here, and forces it into the melody.

In the interviews that Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett of New York University recorded with LSW in the early 1970s shortly before her death, LSW said that much of her repertoire, particularly the songs about life‘s difficulties, was learned from the older, married women in town, while the younger unmarried women taught her the hopeful love songs. Vu zenen mayne vugn un ferd would fall into the category taught by the married women (vayber) while Yosele mit blimele would be a typical song performed during the Sabbath afternoon walks that the unmarried girls took into the woods. In terms of style, the beggar song is sung slower and more mournful, while the love song is more playful.

LSW sings other versions of Yosele mit blimele including a second verse: 

Az du vest kumen, tsum dokter bay der tir, 
zolst im gebn a vink, azoy vi ikh tsu dir. 
Zolst im gebn a  tuler in der hant. 
Vet er shoyn visn vus mit dir iz genant 

When you come to the doctor’s door,
you should give him a wink, like I give to you.
you should give him a dollar in his hand;
so he will know what embarrased you.

A verse which implies an abortion! But in such a light-hearted song it seems quite incongruous.

The third song – In a kleynem shtibele (In a Small Room) – is sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (born 1920) and was recorded May 13th 2011 (last week) in the Bronx. She learned this song in one of her afternoon Yiddish classes in Chernovitz, (then Romania) either at the Morgnroit school (Socialist Bundist) or the Yidisher shulfareyn, a Yiddish cultural group, in the 1920s, early 1930s. Basically the same version was collected by the folklorists Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe and his brother Oyzer Pipe in their hometown of Sanok (in yiddish- Sunik), Galicia, then Poland. Dov and Meir Noy published the Pipe brothers collection in Israel (Folklore Research Studies , Vol. 2, Jerusalem 1971),  and a copy of that version is attached with the music. See the footnote to the song by Dov and Meir Noy (p. 326) for other songs with this melody, and the reference to Meir Noy‘s article mentioned above.

In a kleynem shtibele is a worker‘s song, text written by the writer and ethnographer A. Litvin  (pseudonym of Shmuel Hurvits 1863 – 1943) and the complete original text (Di neyterkes) can be found in M. Bassin‘s Antologye: Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye, volume one 258-259, NY 1917.

The fourth song with the same melody is In shtetl Nikolayev (In the Town of Nikolayev). The Freedman Jewish Sound Archive has information on three recordings: a version by David Medoff (1923); Kapelye (the album „Future and Past‟, sung by Michael Alpert); and the German group Aufwind (from the album „Awek di junge jorn‟). We have included a link to the Medoff performance. See Mark Slobin and Richard Spotwood‘s article on Medoff (David Medoff: A Case Study in Interethnic Popular Culture in American Music, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 261-276.

AUDIO RECORDINGS:

Song 1: Vu zenen mayne vugn un ferd? (Where are my wagon and horse?). Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn.

Song 2: Yosele mit Blimele (Yosele and Blimele). Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn.

Song 3: In a kleynem shtibele (In a Small Room). Performance by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, recorded May 12, 2011 by Itzik Gottesman.

Song 4: In shtetl Nikolayev (In the Town of Nikolayev). Performance by David Medoff, recorded 1923.

TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS

Song 1: Vu zenen mayne vugn un ferd? (Where are my wagon and horse?). Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn.

Vu zenen mayne vugn un ferd?
Az ikh bin aroysgefurn, hot getsitert himl un erd.
Hant bin ikh urem; shtey ikh ba der tir.
Kimen tsu geyn di sholtikes un lakhn (up?) fin mir.

Where are my wagon and horse?
When I first drove out, heaven and earth shook.
Now that I am poor, I stand at the door.
So the scoundrels come by to mock me.

Vi iz mayn tsiring vus ikh hob gebrakht fin vin?
Vus mayn vab un kinder zenen gegongen ongetin?
Hant az ikh bin urem, shtey ikh far der tir.
Kimen tsu geyn di sholtikes un lakhn up (?) fin mir.

Where is the jewelry that I had brought from Vienna?
That was worn by my wife and children.
Now that I am poor, I stand by the door.
So the scoundrels come by to mock me.


Song 2: Yosele mit Blimele (Yosele and Blimele). Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn.

Yosele mit Blimele zey zitsn af a bank.
Oy vey Blimele, ikh bin azoy krank.
Kh‘hob aza krenk, ikh shem zikh oystsuzugn,
Der dokter hot mir geheysn khasene-hobn.

Yosele and Blimele are sitting on a bench.
Oh dear Blimele, I am so very ill.
I have an illness, I am embarrased to reveal –
The doctor ordered me to get married.

Khasene hobn – es geyt dir nor in deym.
Khasene hobn – ken men glaykh ven (?) me vil aleyn.
Khasene hobn – darf men hubn gelt.
Ken men opfirn a sheyne velt.

Getting married – is all you can think of.
Getting married is easy if you want to do by ourselves.
Getting married – you need money for that,
and then you can have a beautiful world.

Yingelekh un meydelekh hot shoyn nisht keyn moyre.
Khasene hubn – es shteyt dokh in der toyre.
As der shnader shnadt – shnadt er mit der mode
un az der rebe vil a vab, meygn mir avode.

Boys and girls, you no longer have to fear.
Getting married – It says so in the Torah.
When the tailor tailors, he cuts according to the fashion
and if the Rebbe wants a wife, then we may too of course.

Song 3: In a kleynem shtibele (In a Small Room). Performance by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, recorded May 12, 2011 by Itzik Gottesman.

In a kleynem shtibele, bay a langn tish.
Zitsn dortn meydelekh un dreyen mit di fis.
Zey dreyen di mashindelekh fun fri biz nakht
Un azoy vern tutsnvayz hemdelekh gemakht.

In a small room, at a long table,
There sit girls and turn with their feet.
They turn the machines from early to night.
And thus by the dozens, shirts are produced.
Girls, so small, tell me why are you pale?

Meydelekh ir kleninke, zogt vos zent ir blas?
Hemdelekh ir vaysinke, zogt vos zent ir nas?
Meydelekh un hemdelekh, zey reydn nisht keyn vort.
Nor di mashindelekh zey geyen imer fort. 

Shirts so white, tell me why are you wet?
Girls and shirts, they do not speak a word.
But the machines, they keep going forever.

Song 4: In shtetl Nikolayev (In the Town of Nikolayev). Performance by David Medoff, recorded 1923.

Transliterated lyrics courtesy of the German klezmer band Aufwind may be found on the Zemerl website by clicking here.

“A sikele, a kleyne” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

A sikele, a kleyne is based on a popular poem by Avrom Reisen called „In suke.‟ I know of at least three recordings: Louis Danto’s Masters of the Jewish Art Song; Yiddish Classics (a.k.a. Heymishe Yidishe Klangen volume one, 1991); and the version on the recent CD Tsuker Zis by Lorin Sklamberg and Frank London. The Danto version is with a different melody by Joel Engel. The other two are similar to the one sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) which she learned in her hometown of Chernovitz, Romania.

Only Danto‘s version uses Reisin‘s original poem. The words differ in the other versions, verses were added, and the song was widely folklorized. In Shmuel Lehman‘s Ganovim lider (Thieve‘s Songs) he includes an underworld song sung to the same melody.

In 2001 or 2002 I interviewed one of the producers of the Yiddish Classics CD and he mentioned that a rabbi called and complained about their Sukele version because it left out the final verse that BSG includes.

BSG (my mother) was born in Vienna, raised in Chernovitz and came to the US in 1951. She is a poet, songwriter and singer, awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005 for her Yiddish singing, songs and poetry.

Photograph of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman by Joan Roth

She is the daughter of the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) whose performances have been posted on this blog a number of times. Whereas LSW‘s singing reflects a 19th century small shtetl style, her daughter captures the urban Yiddish singing style of the interwar period. You can hear more of her singing traditional repertoire on the CD Bay mayn mames shtibele.

Final note: the pitch sounds a little high on this recording done in our Bronx home in the 1980s.

A sikele a kleyne,
mit breytelekh gemeyne
hob ikh mir mit tsures tsunoyfgeklopt.
Tsigedekt deym dakh,
mit a bisele skhakh.
un ikh zits mir in sikele un trakht.

A little sukkah
with simple boards,
I barely put together.
I covered the roof
with a little skhakh, 
and I sit in the little sukkah and think.

Der vint der kalter,
bluzt derekh di shpalter
in lesht mir di lekhtelekh shir oys.
Herts nor a khidesh,
kom makh ikh nor kidish.
Der vint lesht di lekhtelekh oys.

The cold wind
blows throught the cracks
and almost blows the candles out.
Listen to this wonder –
only when I finish saying the kiddush, 
then the candles blow out. 

Mit a groys geveyn,
mit a biter geshrey,
kimt dekh mayn vabele aran.
Her nor man man,
Der vint varft dus sikele bold an,
Oy, vus vet dernukh dem zan?

With a great cry,
with a bitter yell,
my wife comes inside.
„Listen my husband,
The wind will soon blow the sukkah down,
Oh, what will happen then?‟

Gey zay nisht keyn nar,
un hob nisht keyn tsar,
un loz dir der vint nisht ongeyn.
vifl vintn s‘veln brimen,
vifl doyres s‘veln kimen,
dos sikele vet eybik shteyn.

„Don‘t be a fool,
and don‘t have any grief,
and don‘t worry about the wind.
No matter how many winds will roar
No matter how many generations will come,
the sukkah will always remain standing.