Archive for Vilna

A Yiddish Khad-gadyo Performed by Pam Singer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2015 by yiddishsong

A Yiddish Khad-gadyo
Performance by Pam Singer, England
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

During a break in the KlezNorth Festival in England, March 2014, I recorded on video a Yiddish version of Khad Gadyo from Pam Singer. As she says in the video, she learned the song in I. L. Peretz Shul in Winnipeg in the early 1960s. She remembers half the song (see the end of this posting for all lyrics).

As we had presented in a previous Yiddish Song of the Week post, here is a video of “Uncle Sidney” singing part of the same song:

In the comments to that previous post, Nadia Dehan from Paris pointed us to a printed version of the song with all the words in the Lider bukh: gezamlter repertoir fun Frayhayṭ Gezangs Fareyn (Chicago, Ill. 1923). Please note that all the Yiddish words that originate from Hebrew/Aramaic have been “Yiddishized” in this collection.

From the website of Zemereshet, זמרשת we learn that the song’s title is “Khad gadyo” and was written by a fascinating figure named Yitskhok Pirozshnikov, the man who first popularized the concertina. Zemereshet provides all the Yiddish verses, but only a recording of the first verse in a Hebrew translation.

Zemereshet also believes the song first appeared in the Haggadah –
הגדה של פסח מיט זשארגאנישער איבערזעצונג…און אויך א פסחדיקע לידעלע חד־גדיא מיט נאטן published by Pirozshnikov in Vilna in 1901.

The composer of the song, Yitskhok Pirozshnikov, was an extraordinary man. Born in 1859 on an island in the Dneiper river, Khortits, he became a kapelmeister in the Russian military in Vilna, and at the same time choir conductor of the Jewish Teacher’s Institute. He developed a new, easier way to play the concertina, allowing the instrument to be accessible to far more people. As a result all the Russian Pedagogical and Teacher Institutes in the region began to teach concertina. He was the first person ever to tour as a concertina virtuoso including Europe, America, Israel. He then left music for a while to set up a printing press in Vilna, and among his publications was the first collection of Yiddish proverbs in book form.

PR PicYitskhok Pirozshnikov

In 1909 he came to the U.S. and became active in the Jewish music world again. He edited the music section of the Yiddish Forverts newspaper. He was the first conductor and choir leader of a Workmen’s Circle chorus in NY and then in Paterson, NJ. He composed at least 50 Yiddish songs for Jewish school children. No collection of his Yiddish songs appeared in book form. He died in NY in 1933. On the website Museum of Family History, in the section “Lives of the Yiddish Theater”, one can read more biographical information.

Below are the lyrics to Singer’s partial version, followed by the complete version by Pirozshnikov (since we do not have the original Pirozshnikov Haggadah, we have not changed the words as they appear on the Zemereshet website).

Pam Singer’s version of Khad-gadyo:

A mayse mit a tsigele,
hert oys ovois-uvonim
Der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Di umshildike tsigele
zi shpringt arum in hoyz.
Plutsem kumt a beyze kats,
un khapt un frest es oyf.

Di tsigele, di tsigele, hert oys ovis-uvonim.
Der foter hot batsolt far it tsvey gildn
mezumonim.
Khad-gad-yo, khad-gad-yo.

Der hunt hot faynt gehat di kats
dos treft zikh al-pi-rov.
Er klert nit lang un khapt ir on
un makht fun ir a sof.

Der hunt iz dokh dem shtekn vert,
er iz dokh beyz un shlekht.
Der shtekn git im klep vi bob
un meynt er iz gerekht.

Di tsigele, di tsigele, hert oys ovois-uvonim
Der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.
Khad-gad-yo, khad-gad-yo.

Translation:

A tale with a little kid (young goat)
listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it
two gulden cash.

The innocent kid,
she jumps around the house.
Suddenly a mean cat comes
and catches it and eats it up.

The kid, the kid, listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it two guilden cash.
Khad-gad yo, khad gad yo.

The dog hated the cat,
as happens most of the time,
He doesn’t think long and catches it
and puts an end to her.

The dog deserves the rod,
since he is so mean and bad.
The stick strikes him as beans,
and thinks that he is in the right.

The kid, the kid, listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it two guilden cash.
Khad-gad yo, khad gad yo.

singer1singer2singer3

Yitskhok Pirozshnikov’s Khad-gadyo (from the Zemereshet website):

A peysekhdike lidele
vil ikh zingen mit a nign:
A muser far di eltere
un far kinder a fargenign.

A mayse with a tsigele
hert oys ovus-uvonim,
der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Di umshuldike tsigele,
zi shpringt arayn in hoyf.
Plutsling kumt a beyze kats
un khapt un frest ir of.

Refrain:

Di tsigele, di tsigele
hert oys ovos-uvonim,
der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Der hunt hot faynt di kats
dos treft zikh al-pi-rov
Er klert nit lang un khapt ir on
un makht fun ir a sof.

Der hunt iz dokh dem shtekn vert:
er iz dokh beyz un shlekht;
Der shtekn git im klep, vi bob,
un meynt, az er iz gerekht.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele….

Di fayer hot di gantse zakh
arayngebrakht in tsorn;
Der shtekn falt im tsu arayn
un iz farbrent gevorn.

Dos vaser libt dem fayer nit
zey zenen nit keyn por.
Er fleytst dem fayer arum un arum
un lesht im oys biz gor.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele

Der oks farshteyt keyn khokhmes nit;
zayn kop iz nor in mogn.
Er kumt tsum vaser un trinkt es oys.
ver hot im vos tsu zogn?

Der shoykhet git mitn khalef a fir –
funem oks iz nisht gevorn.
Der shoykhet meynt, az yedes oks
iz nor farn khalef geborn.

Der shoykhet hot bakumen zayn loyn,
un gor nit oyf katoves.
Er hot mit zayn lebn batsolt zayn shuld
aleyn dem malekh-hamoves.

Nor got, der har, hot shoyn bashtimt,
di umrekht tsu fardarbn.
Un der vos brengt durkhoys dem toyt
zol aleyn glaykh shtarbn.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele…

Translation:

A Passover song
I want to sing with a melody:
A lesson for the elders
and for the children – a pleasure.

Khad-gadyo! Khad-gadyo!

A tale about a kid
listen fathers and sons,
the father had paid for her
two guilden in cash.

The innocent kid
jumps into the yard.
Suddenly comes an evil cat
and catches it and eats it up.

REFRAIN

The kid, the kid
listen fathers and sons,
the father had paid for it
two guildens cash.

The dog hates the cat,
as happens most of the time.
He doesn’t think long and catches it
and puts an end to her.

The dog deserves the stick;
he is so mean and bad;
The beatings are as many as beans
and he believes, that he is in the right.

Refrain: A kid, a kid…

Fire was so disturbed by the whole thing
he became furious.
He got a hold of the stick
and burnt it.

Water does not love fire;
they are not a pair.
He floods the fire all around,
and puts it out completely.

Refrain: A kid, a kid

The ox does not joke around;
his head is in his gut.
He comes to the water and drinks it up.
Who is going to tell him otherwise?

The slaughterer give a slice with his blade
and the ox is no more.
The slaughterer thinks that every ox
was given life just for his blade.

REFRAIN..a kid, a kid

The slaughterer got his reward
and we are not kidding.
With his life he paid his debt
to the angel of death.

But God, the master, had determined
this injustice to corrupt.
And he who only brings death
met his own death.

REFRAIN: A kid, a kid

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“Iz Reyzele a meydl” Performed by Chaya Fiyzerman Friedman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2015 by yiddishsong

Iz Reyzele a meydl
Reyzele is a Girl
Performance by Chaya Fiyzerman Friedman
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A student at University of Texas at Austin, Brooke Fallek video recorded her grandmother, Chaya Fiyzerman Friedman (b. 1929, Vilna) in New Jersey, Fall 2014, singing this song about a toy donkey (eyzele) which she learned by sneaking into the Yiddish theater in the Vilna ghetto.

REYZELEFOTO

Picture of a Jewish girl in Poland, 1930s

Fallek writes about her grandmother –  “Her mother hid her in a knapsack at the time of the selection at the closing of the ghetto. They were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp in Latvia. She had to hide in camp since she was a child and should have died A Nazi soldier found her and took a liking to her – he had a daughter her age.

Both she and her mother survived and went to Berlin after the war to a Displaced Persons camp. She came to New York, attended high school and married David Friedman – also a partisan survivor, in 1950. They were married for 53 years until his death. They have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.”

Iz Reyzl a meydl, a shtiferke a bren.
Hot Reyzl in a fentster an eyzele derzen.
Vert Reyzl tsetumlt, zi vil an eyzele vos lakht.
Hot papa ir anumlt fun yard aza gebrakht.

Ay, ay ay Reyzele hot zi an eyzele
mit fislekh kurtsinke, oyern lang.
A kvetsh a knepele, rirt zikh dos kepele,
Shoklen un viglen zikh af yo un neyn.

Oy, an umglik hot getrofn
shloft Reyzl nisht bay nakht.
Der eyzl iz tsebrokhn
iz Reyzl umgebrakht.

Ay, ay ay Reyzele,
hot gehat an eyzele.
mit fislekh kurtsinke, oyern lang.

Reyzl, a girl full of mischief and zeal.
Suddenly spotted in the window a donkey.
So Reyzl gets excited – she wants a laughing donkey.
So papa brought her one from the fair.

Ay, ay, ay Reyzele has a little donkey,
with short legs and big ears.
Push a button and the head moves,
and shakes and rocks to say yes and no.

Oy a catastrophe happened;
Reyzl can’t sleep at night.
The donkey is broken,
so Reyzl got upset.*
[*umgebrakht usually means “killed”, perhaps “oyfgebrakht” is what she meant?]

Ay, ay, ay Reyzele
once had a donkey.
with short legs
and long ears.
reyzl1 reyzl2 reyzl3

There are two professional recordings of this song, one by the singer and collector, Lea Szlanger in Israel on her LP “A Nig’n After My Heart – Mayn eygener nigun”. In Szlanger’s version the donkey “eyzele” becomes a rabbit “heyzele” (thanks to Lea Szlanger for sending the recording and words.)

Lea Szlanger in Song


Transliteration/Translation of Lea Szlanger’s performance:

Iz Reyzele a meydl, a shtiferke a bren.
Hot Reyzele in fentster a hezele derzen.
Un Reyzele zi vil nor, a hezele vos lakht.
Hot ir der foter fun yarid a hezele gebrakht.

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, hot zi a hezele
mit lange oyerlekh un fislkeh kleyn.
A kvetsh a knepele, shoklt zikh dos kepele;
Shoklt zikh un vigt zikh – yo, yo un neyn.

Men tut a kvetsh a knepele hert zikh a gezang.
Oyfn haldz a glekele, klingt es gling, glang, glang.
Dan fregt zikh Reyzele far vos dos hezele
hot fislekh kurtsinke un oyern lang?

Zi tsertlt im un tulyet; zi shloft mit im bay nakht.
Zi kusht im un zi haldzt im un Reyzele zi lakht.
Un kinderlekh in droysn fun Reyzelen makhn shpot
“Zet nor, zet nor sara groysn heyzl reyzl hot”

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, hot zi a heyzele
mit lange oyerlekh un fislekh kleyn.
A kvetsh a knepele, shoklt zikh dos kepele;
Shoklt zikh un vigt zikh yo, yo un neyn.

Men tut a kvetsh a knepele hert zikh a gezang.
Oyfn haldz a glekele, klingt es gling, glang, glang.
Dan fregt zikh Reyzele far vos dos heyzele
hot fislekh kurtsinke un oyern lang?

Reyzele is a girl, a scamp, a dynamo.
Reyzele saw a rabbit in the window.
And Reyzele, she only wants a rabbit that laughs.
So her father brought her a rabbit from the fair.

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, has a rabbit
with long ears and little legs.
Push a button and the head rocks,
Nods and rocks – yes, yes and no.

Just push a button and you hear a song.
On her throat a little bell that rings -gling, glang, glang.
Then Reyzele asks herself why does this rabbit
have such short legs and big ears?

She caresses it and cradles it; she sleeps with it at night.
She kisses it and embraces it and Reyzele, she laughs.
And children outside make fun of Reyzele –
“Just look what a big rabbit Reyzl has!”

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, has a rabbit
with long ears and little legs.
Push a button and the head rocks,
Nods and rocks – yes, yes and no.

Just push a button and you hear a song.
On her throat a little bell that rings -gling, glang, glang.
Then Reyzele asks herself why does this rabbit
have such short legs and big ears?

reyz1reyzl2reyz3The second recording of the song is by Henny Durmashkin on her LP  “Lider tsu gedenken” – “Songs to Remember” (thanks to Lorin Sklamberg of the YIVO Sound Archives for sending the mp3 and LP cover with photo of singer and biographical information – click image to enlarge). Her version is very close to Szlanger’s.

henny-durmashkin-pic-use

Durmashkin was also from Vilna; her father Wolf Durmashkin was a Vilna conductor before the war and in the ghetto. Henny’s sister Fanny Durmashkin accompanies her on piano. A film on these remarkable sisters was made in 2007 – “Creating Harmony: the Displaced Persons Orchestra at St. Otillien.” An article from the New Jersey Jewish Standard tells the story.

A shortened printed version of the song appears in the Parisian collection, 1948  – “Mir zingen” published by Gezelshaft kinder-fraynt, p. 109. An even shorter recorded version is found in the Ben Stonehill collection.

So this song about a rocking toy donkey (or rabbit) is clearly from Vilna/Vilnius, 1930s or perhaps created in the ghetto; but the author and composer are unknown. Fiyzerman sings a verse, or part of a third verse, that the other versions do not include, about the toy being broken.

“Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu dermanen” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2014 by yiddishsong

Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu dermanen
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recording by Leybl Kahn, NYC,  1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We have drawn on three sources to look at Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s singing of Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu dermanen, a Yiddish woman’s song if ever there was one. The wide geographic range of variants (see the notes to the song in Yidisher folklor, 1938), indicates that it dates at least as far as the mid-19th century. The song is a mediation on the tragedy of divorce/abandonment from a woman of the times’ perspective.

w-forwardlookingback-011913The Jewish Daily Forward newspaper in NY ran a column “Gallery of Husbands Who Disappeared” to track down men who abandoned their wives, leaving them “agunes”.

The first source is the recording itself. Since I also heard this song from Lifshe’s daughter – my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman – I have put Beyle’s alternate words in brackets and I believe those are the “correct” words: “dermanen” not “baklern”, “di blum” instead of “der boym”. Beyle learned the song from Lifshe and there are grammatical indications to support her version.

The second source is the YIVO volume Yidisher folklor, 1938. Song #132 in that work is the same song but heard in Podbroz, near Vilna, Lithuania; quite a distance from Lifshe’s Bukovina homeland. We have included the words and melody of that version in which the singer sings “di roze” instead of Lifshe’s “boym” and “agune” (an abandoned wife) instead of Lifshe’s “grushe” (a divorcee). My mother also sang “agune” and I believe that is how it was most widely sung.

The third source is the Ruth Rubin field-recording housed at YIVO of the fine singer Bill Lubell (hometown unknown). We have not included the recording but have transcribed his words.

In his performance a “woman’s song” has been adapted for a male singer. No longer is there a mention of “widow”, “divorcee” or “abandoned wife”. Without the build-up found in the woman’s version leading to the climactic description of an agune being discarded, the “man’s version” pales in comparison.

In my mind, it does not take too much imagination to interpret the verse “The flower blooms in the woods – the rain falls on her – she then loses her color” in a Freudian manner.

VERSION BY LIFSHE SCHAECHTER-WIDMAN

Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu baklern [dermanen]
Az ikh heyb mikh on tsu badenken.
Fal ikh arayn in alerley krenken,
fal ikh aran in alerley krenken.

When I begin to ponder [remember]
When I begin to consider,
I fall into all
sorts of illnesses.

Alerleyke krenken
ken a doktor heyln.
Nor mayn krenk
Ken ikh keynem nisht dertseyln.

All kinds of illnesses
can be cured by a doctor.
But about my illness
I can tell no one.

Der boym [di blum] vakst in vald
Der reygn geyt af ir.
Farlirt er [zi ] dekh oykh
dem sheynem kolir.

The tree [flower] grows in the forest.
The rain falls on it.
And so it loses
its beautiful color.

Nisht azoy di kolirn
vi di sheyne farbn.
Eyder aza leybn
iz beser tsi shtarbn.

Not so much the colors,
as the beautiful colors.
Rather than such a life,
it would be better to die.

Yingerheyt tsi shtarbn,
iz dokh oykh a sakune.
Eyder tsi blabn
a yinge almune.

To die young
is also a danger.
Better than remaining
a young widow.

An almune blaybt men
A’ der man shtarbt avek.
A grishe [an agune] nor blaybt men
ven der man varft avek.

One becomes a widow
when the husband dies.
A woman becomes divorced [abandoned]
when the husband discards.
badenken1badenken2badenken3
VERSION FROM PODBROZ, VILNE REGION (from Yidisher folklor, 1938, click to enlarge):

sheyneRoza
DiSheyneRoze