Archive for YIVO Institute

“Vus a mul brent dus fayer greser” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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Vus a mul brent dus fayer greser / The Fire Burns Stronger Each Day
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn NY  1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Yet another lyrical love song from the repertory of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW). In this dialogue, the women speaks first then the second and third verses are spoken by the man. postcardIn the Ruth Rubin Archive, Frida Lobell begins her version with the following verse:

Keyner veyst nisht vi mir iz biter (No one knows how bitter I feel)
keyner veyst nisht vi mir iz shlekht. (No one knows how bad I feel)
Keyner veyst nisht vi ikh tsiter (No one knows how I shake)
az di furst fin mir avek. (When you leave me) 

Other versions of this version can be found in “Folkslider in Galitsye”, Oyzer Pipe and Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe, YIVO-bleter vol. Xl no. 1-2, 1937 songs #36 and #37 and Cahan Yidisher folklor, 1938, #55. But LSW’s last line, “Your beauty will fade like the dew in the open field” is the most poetic.

TRANSLITERATION

“Vus a mul vert dus fayer greser,
ven ikh zey dekh mit a tsveyter geyn.
Shtekhn vel ikh meykh mit a meser.
Mer zol ikh fin dir dus nisht zeyn.”

“Shtekh dekh nisht, mayn tayer zis leybn,
vayl dayn plage iz dokh gur imzist.
Ikh bin tsi mazl a khusn gevorn
in dir loz Got bashern veymen di vi’st.

Di vi’st dekh meynen, di bist di shenste,
in di angenemste af der velt.
Dan sheynkeyt vet fargeyn
azoy vi di rose afn frayen feld.
Oy, dayn sheynkeyt vet fargeyen
vi di rose afn frayen feld.”

TRANSLATION

“The fire burns stronger each day
when I see you standing with another.
I will stab myself with a knife –
I don’t want to see this any more.” 

“Don’t stab yourself my beloved
For your suffering is for naught.
I am now luckily engaged,
and may God grant you whomever you want. 

You thought you were the most beautiful
and the most pleasant in the world.
Your beauty will fade
like the dew in the open field.”

Screenshot 2020-04-29 at 1.27.20 PM

“Az in felder geyt a regn” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

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Az in felder geyt a regn/When it rains in the fields
Sung by Jacob Gorelik, lyrics by Wolf Younin with music by Maurice Ruach
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx, 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Jacob Gorelik probably learned this song as a member of a Yiddish chorus in NYC or from a chorister, since it is part of a longer “Folk Oratorio/Ballet for Chorus” (1947) called “Fun Viglid biz Ziglid”; words by poet, lyricist, journalist, teacher Wolf Younin (1908 – 1984) and music by composer, writer, choir leader, Maurice (Moyshe) Rauch (1910 – 1994). On Rauch see this link, while for information on Younin see his obituary.

GorelikDrawing“Gorelik at the microphone” drawing by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

In the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO, Yehudis Wasilievsky (Gorelik’s neighbor in the Chelsea-Elliiot Houses in Manahattan) sings another song from this oratorio – “Granatn”.

The Goldene Keyt/The Yiddish Chorale with Zalmen Mlotek conducting, recorded the work on their compact disc “Mir zaynen do tsu zingen”, 1997. The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Folk Chorus in NYC, Binyumen Schaechter conductor, performed the oratorio in 2008. The composer Mark Zuckerman transcribed the words and music for this performance — view his choral arrangement of the song at the end of this post.

Thanks to Binyumin Schaechter and Mark Zuckerman for help with this week’s post.

*Note: Gorelik’s text differs only slightly from Younin’s libretto, so we put in brackets Younin’s original words next to the way Gorelik sings them.

TRANSLITERATION (Gorelik’s text)

Az af [in] felder geyt [shpritst] a regn, vern grozn nas
un di zangen oykh, un di zangen oykh.
In mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?
In mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?

Tsvishn felder, tsvishn velder flist a griner taykh
un er vert gornit mid, un vert gornit mid.
Zingt a foygl tsu a foygl: oy, ikh hob dikh lib.
Zingt a foygl tsu a foygl: oy ikh hob dikh lib.

Ven ale beymer zaynen feder, [Ven yeder boym zol zayn a feder
ale yamen tint un papir der veg, [fun papir der veg]
ale yamen tint un papir der veg.
Undzer libe tsu bashraybn volt es nit geklekt
Undzer libe tsu bashraybn volt es nit geklekt

Az in felder geyt a regn vern grozn nas
un di zangen oykh, un di zangen oykh
in mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?
in mayn hartsn brent a fayer, nor ver ken zen dem roykh?

TRANSLATION

When it rains in the fields the grass becomes wet,
and the stalks as well, and the stalks as well.
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?

If the trees were all feathers, and the oceans were ink
and the paths made of paper, and the paths made of paper.
It would not suffice to describe our love.
It would not suffice to describe our love

In fields, in woods,
a green river flows and does not tire at all,
does not tire at all.
A bird sings to another bird: “I love you”
A bird sings to another bird: “I love you”

When it rains in the fields the grass becomes wet,
and the stalks as well, and the stalks as well.
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?
In my heart a fire burns, but who can see the smoke?
gorelik1

gorelik2

Excerpt of choral score for “Fun viglid biz ziglid” by Mark Zuckerman:Fun viglid biz ziglid 23-page-0Fun viglid biz ziglid 24-page-0

“Zishe Breitbart” Performed by Yitzchak Milstein

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2020 by yiddishsong

Zishe Breitbart Sung by Yitzchak Milstein
Recorded by Toby Blum-Dobkin, 2/19/1977, Brooklyn NY. 

Commentary by Toby Blum-Dobkin. Song lyrics and transcription appear at the end of the post, including Milstein’s opening and closing spoken remarks. 

About the Singer Yitzchak Milstein

I first recorded Yitzchak Milstein singing the ballad of Zishe Breitbart in 1973, when I interviewed Mr. Milstein for the YIVO Yiddish Folksong Project, directed by Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. The project team aimed to define and document Yiddish musical specialists and to compose portraits of such individuals [Blum-Dobkin 1975]. I again recorded the song in 1977, when I wrote an article about Zishe as a folk hero. I translated the song into English, and also transliterated it to reflect features of Milstein’s Yiddish pronunciation [Blum-Dobkin 1978].  

MilsteinPhoto

Yitzchak Milstein

I conducted ten interviews with Yitzchak Milstein for the Yiddish Folksong Project, between 2/27/1973 and 9/18/1974.  Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes. All the interviews were conducted in Yiddish, with some songs and narrative in other languages. I translated portions of the interviews and songs into English, directly from the recordings. Bella Gottesman transcribed all the interviews and songs in Yiddish, also directly from the recordings. 

Mr. Milstein was born in Shidlovtse (Szidlowiec), Poland, in 1914. His mother Rokhl had a booth of ‘galenterye’ at the shtetl market. His father Motek (Mordkhe) was a ‘holts tokazh’ – a wood turner. Yitzchak worked as a tailor in Shidlovtse and seasonally in Warsaw. His childhood home was filled with music. He remarked, “In our home, almost everyone sang. . . were there better entertainments?. . . I remember that my father had a ‘liderbikhl’ – a Yiddish song book..  [with songs about] city girls and farmers’ girls…When my father was young he also acted in the drama circle, in [Goldfaden’s] Di Kishefmakherin – The Sorceress.” Even when Yitzchak’s father became more religious, he did not forbid Yitzchak from attending performances and acting in amateur dramatics. Yitzchak remembered that his father “said it was ‘b’yerushe’ – part of my legacy.”  The family had a mandolin, and Yitzchak learned by observing others.

In 1942 Yitzchak Milstein was forced into labor at the Skarszysko Hasag camp, and was subsequently incarcerated in several other Nazi camps. He was liberated in April 1945 and housed in the Displaced Persons camp in Feldafing, Germany. He emigrated to the the US in 1950 and settled in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, resuming work in his trade of tailoring.  He also resumed his avocation, singing. Mr. Milstein’s other avocation was keeping the memory of his shtetl Shidlovtse alive. He was active in the effort to publish Shidlovtse’s ‘yizker bukh’ – memorial book – for which he created artwork and essays  [Milstein 1974]. For Yitzchak Milstein, it was a matter of pride to reproduce a performance or song ‘genoy’ – as correctly and faithfully as possible. “I am a tape recorder,” he explained to me.

The Song ‘Zishe Breitbart’ 

Yitzchak Milstein had heard the ballad of Zishe Breitbart in the 1920’s from a ‘hoyfzinger’ – a street singer in Shidlovtse. The text of the ballad along with pictures of Zishe Breitbart were sold by street singers in broadside form. I am indebted to Chana Gordon Mlotek for directing me to other versions of the Breitbart song, and for pointing out the elements that the Breitbart ballad had in common with traditional ballads [Mlotek 1974].

PhotoBreitbart

Zishe (Sigemund) Breitbart

Zishe (Siegmund) Breitbart, son of a blacksmith, was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1883. His fame was based both on his physical strength and his unique personality. He toured widely, and in 1923 performed for the Keith vaudeville theaters in New York. The New York Times reported on Breitbart’s 1923 arrival in the United States:

“Among other feats of strength he claims to be able to lift ten or twelve persons with his hands, twist bars of iron like scraps of paper, crack Brazil nuts between his fingers, and haul a wagon with ten persons along the road by his teeth.” The article notes that Breitbart “says he is so sensitive that he would walk into the roadway to avoid trading upon a worm. . . he likes music and writes poems, but doesn’t like prize fighting. He declined an offer received by telegram at the pier to go to Saratoga Springs and have a tryout with Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight champion. ‘For me it is not,’ the strong man of Poland said.” [New York Times 1923].  

Breitbart’s death at the age of forty-two apparently resulted from blood poisoning initially contracted during a performance in Radom, Poland, when he scratched or punctured his leg with a nail.  He died in Berlin in 1925.

Zishe Breitbart’s crowd-pleasing persona and sense of mission as a Jewish hero made a lasting impression [Blum-Dobkin 1978; Bart 2014; Gillerman 2010].  He appeared in the silent film [Der Eisenkoenig 1923] and is the subject of a feature film [Invincible 2001].  It has even been posited that Zishe Breitbart was an inspiration for the character of Superman [Gordon 2011]. 

Milstein Comments

From Khane & Yosl Mlotek’s Song of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song (Workmens Circle, 2004):

Breitbart1Breitbart2Breitbart3

Selected Sources:

Bart, Gary.  Interviewed by Christina Whitney,  Wexler Oral History Project, National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst MA, November 21, 2014.

Blum-Dobkin, Toby.  “Case Study of a Traditional Yiddish Folksinger.” Unpublished paper, 1975.

Blum-Dobkin, Toby.  “Zishe, the Yiddish Samson.”  The Parade of Heroes: Legendary Figures in American Lore.” edited by  Tristram Potter Coffin and Hennig Cohen, Anchor Press, Garden City NY, 1978: 206-213, 557-558.

Der Eisenkönig.  Film directed by Max Neufeld, 1923. 

Gillerman, Sharon.  “The Strongest Man in the World.” YIVO Encyclopedia, 2010.

Gordon, Mel.  “Step Right Up and Meet the World’s Mightiest Human: A Jewish Strongman from Poland who Some Say Inspired the Creation of Superman.”  Reform Judaism, Summer 2011.  

Invincible.  Film directed by Werner Herzog, 2001.

Milstein, Yitzchak.  “Khronik fun khurbn in Shidlovtse.”  Shidlovtser Yizker Bukh/Yizkor Book Szydlowiec, edited by Berl Kagan  Shidlovtser Benevolent Association, NY (1974): 344-368.

Mlotek, Chana Gordon.  “Perl fun der yidisher poezye.” Forverts 1973.The New York Times August 27, 1923.

 

“Borukh Shulman – Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn” Performed by Leo Summergrad

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Borukh Shulman – Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn
Borukh Shulman – Another Grave, Another Sacrifice
Sung by Leo Summergrad, recorded in New York City, 1959 by Leo Summergrad

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In 1906, in Warsaw, radical 19 year-old Borukh Shulman (Polish: Baruch Szulman1886 – 1906) threw a bomb and killed the hated Tsarist police chief Konstantinov. What happened next differs in various versions of the song.  In one version, he escapes on the trolley but when he heard a wounded comrade David Apt call him back, he returned to shoot three policemen before he was killed. In another version he killed himself after killing the police. 

ShulmanPhotoImage of Borukh Shulman published in Shmuel Lehman’s
collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921)

The majority of versions begin with the line “Vi s’iz gekumen der ershter Rusisher May” (“As soon as the Russian first of May arrived”). 

This song seems to have been quite popular before the 1950s. It appears in the Workmen’s Circle collection Zing mit mir (1945) with the music (see scan below). Leo Summergrad says he probably learned this two-verse version in his “Ordn” folkshule (secular Yiddish school) in NY.

In 1950, Yankl Goldman also sang a two-verse version that is preserved in the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO.  Goldman’s version was printed, words and music, in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, p. 143 (Slobin/Mlotek Detroit, 2007).  According to the YIVO website, Goldman was born in 1885 in Warsaw, and had been a needle trades factory worker. Here is that recording:

The “Warsaw Revolutionary Choir” recently sang a longer version of Borukh Shulman at his grave in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery. Here is a link to video link.

A nine-verse variant with music appears in Shmuel Lehman’s collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921) p. 64-66 (see scan below). We have also transliterated and translated this version, the longest one. 

Other versions were printed in S. Bastomski’s Yidishe folkslider (Vilnius, 1923)  p. 90-91 (text only, see scan below), Aharon Vinkovetsky et al..  “Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” (1987) volume 4 and Sofia Magid’s collection Unser Rebbe und unser Stalin (Grozinger/Hudak-Lazic) p. 244.  

Thanks this week to Karolina Szymaniak, the YIVO Sound Archives, Lorin Sklamberg and Leo Summergrad. 

TRANSLITERATION (Summergrad version)

Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn
Nokh a lebn iz tseshtert fun der velt.
Nokh a kemfer iz opgeshtorbn
Borukh Shulman der bavuster held.

Veynt nit brider, veynt nit shvester.
veynt nit muter nokh ayer kind.
Az es falt, falt der bester:
Der vos hot undz getray gedint. 

TRANSLATION (Summergrad version)

Another grave, another sacrifice.
Another life destroyed in this world.
Another fighter has died –
Borukh Shulman the famous hero.

Don’t cry brother, don’t cry sister;
don’t cry mother for you child.
When someone falls, it is the best that falls.
He who served us faithfully.

Note regarding Lehman Version: The expression “gekrogn a khap”, literally “got a catch” is unkown to me and probably means “got what was coming to him” or “got a surprise”

TRANSLITERATION (Lehman’s Version)

Vi es iz gekumen der ershter rusisher may
hot men derhert in gas a klap:
Dos gantse folk hot zikh getun freyen:
Konstantinov hot gekrogn a khap. 

Borekh Shulman iz in gas gegangen,
gegangen iz er tsu dem toyt.
Gezegnt hot zikh mit zayne khaverim
mit der bombe in der hant. 

Borekh Shulman iz in gas gegangen,
bagegnt hot er dem tiran;
Mit der bombe hot ir im tserisn
Konstantinov dem tiran. 

Borekh Shulman iz afn tramvay arof,
hot Dovid Apt gegebn a geshrey;
“Borekh, Borekh! Vu lozstu mikh iber,
tsvishn di tiranen eyner aleyn?”

Borekh Shulman iz fun tramvay arop,
gegangen rateven zayn khaver Apt.
Aroysgenumen hot er dem revolver
un hot geharget dray soldatn. 

Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn,
nokh a lebn iz tseshtert fun der velt.
Nokh a kemfer iz opgeshtrobn –
Borekh Shulman der bavuster held.

Veynt nisht shvester, veynt nisht brider,
troyert nisht muter nokh ayer kind!
Az es falt, falt der bester,
der vos hot nor getray gedint. 

Dayne khaverim, zey shteyen bay dayn keyver,
zey gisn trern yede minut.
Rakhe veln mir fun di tiranen nemen,
far undzer khavers fargosn blut. 

Sheyne blumen tuen blien,
bay Borekhs keyver af der velt.
Dos gantse folk vet kumen knien
far Borekh Shulman dem bavustn held. 

TRANSLATION (Lehman’s Version)

Upon the arrival of the Russian May 1st
an explosion was heard in the street.
All the people were celebrating –
Konstantinov got a “catch”. [surprise?]

Borekh Shulman was going in the street,
he was going to his death.
He bid farewell to his comrades
with a bomb in his hands. 

Borekh Shulman was going in the street,
and he met the tyrant.
With the bomb he ripped him apart –
Konstantinov the tyrant. 

Borekh Shulman got on the trolley,
Dovid Apt gave a yell:
“Borekh! Borekh! How can you leave me
Along among these tyrants!”

Borekh Shulman got off the trolley.
He went to save his friend Apt.
He took out his revolver
and killed three soldiers.

Another grave, another sacrifice,
another life destroyed in this world.
Another fighter has died –
Borekh Shulman the famous hero.

Cry not sister, cry not brother,
do not lament, mother, for your child.
When one of us falls, he is the best one –
he who served us faithfully.

Your friends, they stand at your grave
They pour tears every minute.
We will take revenge upon the tyrants,
for the spilled blood of our comrade.

Beautiful flowers blossom
at Borekh’s grave in this world [?]
All entire nation will come and kneel
for Borekh Shulman the great hero.

S. Bastomski’s Yidishe folkslider (Vilnius, 1923)  p. 90-91
BastomskiShulman

Shmuel Lehman’s collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921) p. 63-66:ShulmanLehman1ShulmanLehman3ShulmanLehman4

Zing mit mir (Workmen’s Circle, 1945), p. 70-71:ShulmanZingMitMIr

“Reb Tsudek” Performed by Itzik Gottesman

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Reb Tsudek
Sung by Itzik Gottesman, recorded Nov 2018, Austin TX

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I was asked to post the song “Reb Tsudek” as sung by the Yiddish poet Martin Birnbaum. He sang it to Michael Alpert and me in 1984-85 in NYC.  But, alas, I cannot find the original recording so I have recorded it myself.

Birnbaum was born in 1905 in Horodenke when it was Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now it is in the Ukraine  – Horodenka. According to a NY Times obituary he came to the US in 1923 and died in 1986. In the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Legacy Archive, Birnbaum sings four songs but not this one. Those recordings were done in 1964.

I believe there is more Yiddish folklore to be discovered about this shlimazel (bad luck) character Reb Tsudek. When I asked the Yiddish poet Yermye Hescheles about him he affirmed that there was such a comic figure in Galicia, where both he and Birnbaum were from.

The song mocks the Hasidic lifestyle – absurd devotion to the rebbe, irresponsibility, staying poor. The word “hiltay” – defined by the dictionaries as “libertine” “skirt-chaser” “scoundrel” – is really a cue that this is a 19th century maskilic, anti-Hasidic, song. The word is often used in such songs. The humor also hinges on the double meaning of tsimbl both as a musical instrument (a hammered dulcimer) and as a verb – “to thrash or scold someone”.

couple tsimblA tsimblist, about to be thrashed by his wife.
(courtesy Josh Horowitz)

In the song two towns are mentioned: Nay Zavalek remains a mystery but Grudek, west of Lviv, is Grodek in Polish and Horodok in Ukrainian.

Here is a clip of Michael Alpert singing  the song, with Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, Jake Shulman-Ment on violin and Ethel Raim singing at the Smithsonian Folkife Festival in Washington D.C.,  2013:

TRANSLITERATION

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek,
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Fort a yid tsu zayn rebn – Reb Tsudek.
Tsudek iz a yid, a lamden.
Er hot a boykh a tsentn,
Un s’iz bakant, az er ken shpiln
of ale instrumentn.

Shpilt er zikh derbay (2x)

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Fort a yid keyn Nay-Zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

Un Reb Tsudek, er zol lebn,
hot gehat a gutn shabes.
Tsudek hot gekhapt shirayem,
mit beyde labes.
Aheymgebrakht hot er zayn vaybl
a zhmenye meyern-tsimes.
Un dertsu, oy vey iz mir,
a tsimbl un strines.

“Hiltay vus iz dus!” (2x)

Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

TRANSLATION

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek,
directly until Grudek.
The man is traveling to his rabbi,
Mister Tsudek.
Tsudek is a learned man,
and has a belly that weighs ten tons.
And everyone knows that he can play
on all the instruments.

So he plays as he travels –

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!
A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!

And Reb Tsudek, may he be well,
had a good Sabbath.
Tsudek caught the Rebbe’s holy leftovers
with both paws [large, rough hands].
For his wife he brought home
a handful of carrot – tsimmes,
and in addition – oh no! –
a tsimbl with no strings.

Scoundrel! what is this? (2x)

Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek until Grudek
Oh my, dear God.
Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek unti Grudek
Oh my, dear God

tsudek1

tsudek2

tsudek3

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

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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

“Bin ikh mir geshtanen” Performed by Nochem Yood

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2018 by yiddishsong

Bin ikh mir geshtanen / I was standing there
A 19th century “khaper” song from Czarist Army
Sung by Nochem Yood

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This 19th century song describes the khapers, the “catchers”  – the despised Jews who caught boys to fulfill the Jewish quota for the Czarist army. Apparently the “khapers” only existed from 1852 – 1855, but in folk memory they were active the entire time of Czar Nicholas l’s conscription program.

soldiers passoverJewish Soldiers at Passover Seder, 1902 (Zionist Archive)

The singer is the Yiddish poet Nochem Yood (Nokhem Yerusalimtshik (1888-1966). He was born in Bobr, Belarus and came to the United States in 1916. The recording was made in the 1950s or early 1960s but he had sung this same song for the folklorist I. L Cahan in the 1920s and Cahan published it in the volume Pinkes 1927-1928 (New York) with no music. There the song was called Dos lid fun di khapers (The song of the khapers). It was reprinted, still just the lyrics, in I. L. Cahan’s Yidishe folkslider, YIVO 1957, page 373-374 (scans are attached below). For that version Nochem Yood sang eighteen verses; here he sings eleven verses.

Nochem YoodNochem Yood 

The other voice on the recording, clearly a landsman from Bober who tries to remember more verses, is for the time being unidentified.

There is a version with music in the periodical Yidisher folklor # 1, NY, 1954, from the A. Litvin Collection at YIVO. Chana Mlotek wrote the commentary there and included information on other versions; some of them quite long.  A scan of that page is also attached.

It is interesting that Cahan did not include the “Ay-ay-ay” chorus in his version. The “Ay-ay-ay” chorus as heard in this Nochem Yood recording gives the song the feeling of a communal performance or a work song. Other versions do include a similar chorus.

Thanks with help for this post to Yelena Shmulenson, Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer.

TRANSLITERATION

[Bin ikh mir geshtanen] baym foter afn hoyf
her ikh a geshrey “Yungerman antloyf!”
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Bin ikh mir gelofn in a gertndl bald.
Biz ikh bin gekumen in a tifn vald.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Dray teg un dray nekht nit gegesn, nit getrunken
nor mit di eygelekeh tsu Got gevunken.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Gib ikh zikh a ker in der zayt
Ersht ikh derze a shtibele nit vayt.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Balebostitshke, balebostitshke efnt mir of di tir,
hot rakhmones un git a kuk af mir.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Eyder ikh hob nit tsayt optsubentshn
dan zaynen gekumen di khapermentshn.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Yidelekh vos zayt ir gekumen tsu forn?
Mir zaynen nit gekumen nokh veyts un af korn.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Ir zayt nit gekumen nokh veyts un af korn.
Ir zayt dokh gekumen af mayne yunge yorn.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Shtelt men mikh avek untern mos
un me git a geshrey “Molodyets, kharosh!”
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Beser tsu lernen khumesh mit Rashe.
Eyder tsu esn di soldatske kashe.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Beser tsu lebn in tsores un neyt
eyder tsu esn dem keysers breyt.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

TRANSLATION

I was standing in my father’s yard
when I heard a yell “young man, run away!”
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

So I ran into a nearby garden,
till I came upon a deep forest.
Ay….

Three days I didn’t eat, didn’t drink,
only winking with my eyes to God.
Ay…..

I  made a turn to the side
and before me stood a nearby house.
Ay….

Lady of the house open up the door,
have pity and take a look at me.
Ay….

Before I had time to finish saying the blessings,
the khapers had arrived.
Ay…

Dear Jews why have you come?
We have not come for wheat nor for rye.
Ay…

You have not come for wheat nor rye.
You have come for my young years.
Ay…

They stand me up for measurement
and exclaim “Attaboy!, Well done!”
Ay…

Better to learn Bible and Rashi
than to eat the soldier’s kasha.
Ay….

Better to live with troubles and want
than to eat the bread of the Czar
Ay…
binikh1binikh2binikh3

From I. L. Cahan’s Yidishe folkslider, YIVO 1957, page 373-374:

Cahan1
Cahan2

Yidisher folklor # 1, NY, 1954, from the A. Litvin Collection at YIVO:

mlotek 1

“Shule, oy, oy, oy, shule” Performed by Ester Szulman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Abraham (Avrom) Lichtenbaum, Yiddish teacher and director of the IWO (YIVO Institute in Argentina) recorded this school song from Ester Szulman, 78 years old, in Buenos-Aires, Argentina, October 2017.

Szulman attended the Wolfsohn school and the Peretz school, part of the YKUF (Yidisher kultur-farband – Jewish Culture Federation) in the Villa Lynch neighborhood in the 1950s.

buenosairesbookLeon Weiner’s book of children’s songs, Musical Alef-beys,
published in Buenos Aires, 1950

We invite all those who follow this blog in all countries to send in their Yiddish school or Yiddish camp songs (preferably in mp3 format but any format is ok) to: itzikgottesman@gmail.com

Shule, oy, oy, oy shule
In shule darfn ale kinderlekh geyn.
Der “mikro”* nemt un brengt tsurik –
Ale kinderlekh a glik!
Shule, oy, oy, oy shule.

(Yiddish) School, oy, oy, oy, school.
All the children have to go to school.
The “micro” * takes us and brings us back.
What a joy for the children!
School, oy, oy, oy school. 

Mikro/micro = micro-bus = small bus.

shule

 

“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.