Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2014 by Fred Flaxman


Program 239
"Jewish Gems"

MUSIC: excerpt from Jeff Warschauer: "The Singing Waltz: Klezmer Guitar & Mandolin": Dem Helfand’s Tants (The Elephant’s Dance) performed by Jeff Warschauer, guitar, mandolin, and others. [Omega OCD3027, Track 1]  [under the following]  [4:46]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide to good music, Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and I’ll present you with some “Jewish Gems,” including traditional folk songs, klezmer, Hanukka favorites, dance music, and altogether some of the very best tunes ever written! So bring on the dancing elephants!

MUSIC: Up until the end

That was The Elephant’s Dance by Jeff Warschauer from his 1997 Omega CD, “The Singing Waltz: Klezmer Guitar and Mandolin.”

The eight-day Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, commemorates the Maccabean victory in 165 B.C. in the fight for religious freedom.  It marks the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem and the legend of the miraculous eight-day endurance of the light from the candelabrum.

Next, two cuts from the 2003 Naxos CD called “A Hanukkah Celebration.” First Herbert Fromm’s Hanukkah Madrigal. Then Samuel Adler’s take on Rock of Ages from his Flames of Freedom — a cantata for chorus and piano, based on ten well-known Hanukkah songs and hymns together with original music to two other liturgical Hanukkah texts.

MUSIC: Herbert Fromm: Hanukka Madrigal performed by the Rochester Singers conducted by Samuel Adler [Naxos 8.559410, Track 7]  [2:22]

MUSIC: Samuel Adler: Rock of Ages from The Flames of Freedom, performed by the New London Children’s Choir conducted by Ronald Corp [Naxos 8.559410, Track 15]  [3:28]

Samuel Adler’s setting of Rock of Ages from The Flames of Freedom, performed by the the New London Children’s Choir conducted by Ronald Corp. Before that you heard Herbert Fromm’s Hanukkah Madrigal performed by the Rochester Singers conducted by Samuel Adler.

Our next three selections are all from a 2004 Albany Records CD called “When the Rabbi Danced.” They are sung in Yiddish and Hebrew by Counterpoint with an instrumental ensemble directed by Robert De Cormier. First The Rabbi Elimelech;  then Tumbalalayka; and finally The Youngest Daughter.

When the Rabbi Elimelekh felt happy, he took off his small leather boxes, called phylacteries, containing Hebrew texts on vellum which were worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law. He put on his glasses and sent for the two fiddlers. And the fiddling fiddlers fiddled in a fiddling way. When the Rabbi Elimelekh felt even happier, he took off his cape, put on his cap, and sent for the two cymbalists. And the cybaling cymbalists cymbaled in a cymbaling way. And when the Rabbi Elimelekh felt very happy indeed, he called for the two drummers. And you can just imagine what the drummers did.

MUSIC: Traditional: The Rabbi Elimelekh  performed by Counterpoint directed by Robert de Cormier [Albany TROY 676, Track 9]  [2:36]

Tumbalalaika, play the balalaika. Let us be happy.

A young man wonders how he will find a girl who is gentle, loving and kind. There are many maidens and bright are their eyes. How shall he know the one who is wise?

Tumbalalaika, play the balalaika. Let us be happy.

Maiden, maiden, can you explain.
What can grow and never need rain?
Which is the fire that burns through the years?
Where is the sorrow deeper than tears?

Tumbalalaika, play the balalaika. Let us be happy.

Listen, listen, as I reply:
A stone can grow and always be dry.
Love that is true will burn through the years,
And when a heart cries, it cries without tears.

MUSIC: Traditional: Tumbalalayka  performed by Counterpoint directed by Robert de Cormier [Albany TROY 676, Track 11]  [2:36]

Leap higher, the circle, the circle make it bigger!
God has raised me up.
Happiness He has brought to me.
Revel, children, through the night.
My youngest daughter I’ve married off.
Faster, joyous — you the queen, I the king!
Oh, oh I myself have seen with my own eyes
How God has heaped blessings on me,
My youngest daughter I’ve married off.

Motl, the poor folk have arrived.
Serve them the best of every dish,
Costly wines, delicious fish,
Oh my daughter, give me a kiss!
My youngest daughter I’ve married off.

Isaac, you rascal, we’re in for a treat!
Just you watch Granny
How she stamps her feet!
What joy, oh what delight!
My youngest daughter I’ve married off.

Itzik, old fellow, raise your bow — and bellow
At your band, the lazy crew.
Strike up the liveliest of tunes!
Until you burst your strings in two!
My youngest daughter I’ve married off.

MUSIC: Traditional: The Youngest Daughter performed by Counterpoint directed by Robert de Cormier [Albany TROY 676, Track 17]  [2:29]

Three traditional Jewish songs arranged by Robert De Cormier. He directed Counterpoint with an instrumental ensemble. We heard first The Rabbi Elimelekh, then Tumbalalayka, and finally The Youngest Daughter.

You are listening to “Jewish Gems” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Next a risqué showstopper that was a favorite of Yiddish vaudeville houses and music halls in New York City’s Second Avenue area during the early decades of the 20th Century. It is by that great Yiddish composer, Ann Onymous, and it’s called Hudl Makes Shtrudl.  It is sung in Yiddish. The words translate approximately like this:

Oh Hudl, Hudl, Hudl
how’s your strudel doing?
It’s delicious; I really love it.
I don’t need any meat or tzimmes
because that’s all boring to me.
Oh Hudl, Hudl, serve the strudel, fork it over!

I have a countryman named Dudl.
He has a wife named Hudl,
and Hudl-Dudl live together all lovey-dovey.
And Dudl’s pretty wife Hudl
bakes an outstanding strudel.
It’s really a pleasure; it just melts in the mouth.
Every Friday, when Dudl has time,
he comes home to his wife and shouts:
“Oh Hudl, Hudl, Hudl…”

My countryman Dudl has a boarder,
who is in love with his Hudl
because she cooks him a very nice supper.
And the boarder, as is proper,
relishes the supper,
and literally devours Hudl with his eyes.
And when Hudl brings the tea to the table,
he smiles and says to her:

“Oh Hudl, Hudl, Hudl,
bring your strudel to the table.
It’s delicious; I really love it.
It’s quite a delight,
Because it goes down so smoothly.
Oh Hudl, Hudl, Hudl, give me the strudel!
Hand it over already!

MUSIC: Anonymous: Hudl Makes Strudel sung by Bruce Adler [Naxos 8.559406, Track 3]  [2:56]

Hudl Makes Strudel sung by Bruce Adler. That was from a Naxos compact disc called “Introducing the World of American Jewish Music.” The tracks on the CD come from the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music.

Our next selection, Hava Nagila / Let Us Rejoice, is perhaps the first modern Israeli folk song in the Hebrew language that has become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. It was composed in 1920’s Palestine at a time when Hebrew was being revived as a spoken language for the first time in two thousand years. Palestinian Jews were being encouraged to speak Hebrew as a common language, instead of Yiddish, Arabic, Ladino, or other regional Jewish languages.

Hava Nagila is performed here by the London Festival Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Stanley Black.

MUSIC: Hava Nagila / Let Us Rejoice performed by the London Festival Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Stanley Black. [London Records ADRM 448879-2, Track 2]  [3:20]

Hava Nagila / Let Us Rejoice performed by the London Festival Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Stanley Black. Now something a bit softer from the same orchestra and conductor: My Yiddishe Momme / My Jewish Mother.

The song was written by Jack Yellen and Lew Pollack. It was first recorded by Willie Howard, and was made famous in Vaudeville by Belle Baker and by Sophie Tucker, who began singing the song in 1925, after the death of her own mother. Tucker made “Mama” a top five hit in the USA in 1928, recording it in English on one side of the 78 rpm recording and in Yiddish on side B. Leo Fuld combined both languages in one track and made it a hit in the rest of the world.

My Yiddishe Momme was sung under various names in different languages or without vocals at all by Itzhak Perlman, Connie Francis, Neil Sedaka, Tom Jones, Ray Charles, Charles Aznavour in French, Ivan Rebroff in German, Annikki Tähti in Finnish, and many others.

MUSIC: My Yiddishe Momme performed by the London Festival Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Stanley Black. [London Records ADRM 448879-2, Track 10]  [4:51]

My Yiddishe Momme. The London Festival Orchestra and Chorus was conducted by Stanley Black.

Our next selection on this hour of “Jewish Gems” is Hatikva / The Hope — the national anthem of Israel. It dates from the beginning of the 20th Century, and its lyrics are based on a poem written in 1877-1878. They reflect the Jew’s 2000-year-old hope of returning to the Land of Israel, restoring it, and reclaiming it as a sovereign nation. In this 1996 Campion Records CD it is sung by the Latvian-born soprano Inesse Galante. The piece is excerpted from Eighteen Jewish Folk Songs for Voice, Violin, and Piano by the Latvian-born composer Maks Goldins.

MUSIC: Hatikva, performed by Inessa Galante, excerpted from Eighteen Jewish Folk Songs for Voice, Violin, and Piano by Maks Goldins [Campion Records RRCD 1340, Track 13]  [2:16]

Hatikva, performed by Inessa Galante, excerpted from Eighteen Jewish Folk Songs for Voice, Violin, and Piano by Maks Goldins.
You are listening to “Jewish Gems” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in timing for this program]

Our next two selections are all from the same Naïve compact disc called “From the Shtetl to New York.” They are sung by Isabelle Georges with the Sirba Octet.  The first is Bei Mir Bist Du Scheyn, which Georges sings in both Yiddish and English.

Bei Mir Bist Du Scheyn means “You Are Beautiful to Me.” It was written in 1932 by Sholom Secunda as a music hall number. As the story goes, the composer sold the rights to the Kammen publishing house for $30, and after that the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland made an everlasting hit of the music.

MUSIC: Bei Mir Bist Du Scheyn, performed by Isabelle Georges with the Sirba Octet [Naïve AM173, Track 2]  [5:13]

Bei Mir Bist Du Scheyn, performed by Isabelle Georges with the Sirba Octet.

The French singer Isabelle Georges is what the English call a triple-threat: she sings, dances, and acts. She has been the leading lady of many musicals and has worked with Michel Legrand and many others. The French-based Sirba Octet was founded in 2003 by the violinist Richard Schmoucler. They have staked out for themselves a musical position somewhere between classical and klezmer.

Next the Octet and Isabelle Georges with one of my very favorite “Jewish Gems” — Rozhinkes mit mandlen / Raisins with Almonds. In a corner of the temple, a Jewish widow is rocking her very young son in her arms, singing this charming song:  “Under your crib, my little one, is a kid as white as snow. He sells raisins and almonds, and one day your turn will come, too… Go to sleep, my little one, go to sleep.”

MUSIC: Rozhinkes mit mandlen, performed by Isabelle Georges with the Sirba Octet [Naïve AM173, Track 15]  [3:09]

Rozhinkes mit mandlen / Raisins with Almonds. Isabelle Georges was the vocalist with the Sirba Octet.

You are listening to “Jewish Gems” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide to good music, Fred Flaxman.

Hevenu shalom aleichem means “We have brought peace upon you,” which explains why this folk song is such a happy one. It is performed in this Vanguard Classics compact disc called “Israel Sings!” by the Karmon Israeli Dancers & Singers.

MUSIC: Traditional: Hevenu shalom aleichem. The Karmon Israeli Dancers & Singers [Vanguard Classics OVC 6019, Track 11]  [1:17]

In case Hevenu shalom aleichem wasn’t happy enough for you, here’s Gregori Schechter’s Klezmer Festival Band in a track from their CD which is called “Be Happy.” The piece is called Bublitchki, which, of course, as everyone should know if you know just one word of Russian, means… “bagel.” This is from a 2011 ARC Music Productions release from the United Kingdom.

MUSIC: Traditional: Bublitchki. The Klezmer Festival Band [ARC Music EUCD 2317, Track 4]  [2:33]

Bublitchki, performed by Gregori Schechter’s Klezmer Festival Band.

Time for one more short “Jewish Gem”  in this hour devoted to them: Tzena, Tzena, Tzena as sung by The Weavers from the Vanguard CD collection called “The Weavers Greatest Hits.”

Tzena, Tzena, Tzena sounds like a folk song, but it was originally written in 1941 by a Polish emigrant to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine, but is now Israel.

Gordon Jenkins made an arrangement of the song for The Weavers, who sang it with Jenkins’ orchestra as backing. That version was one side of a two-sided hit released by Decca Records. The flip side was Goodnight Irene.

The original English lyrics, written by Mitchell Parish, were greatly altered in the version recorded by The Weavers. And the song was also recorded by Vic Damone and Mitch Miller’s Orchestra, and guitarist Chet Atkins — without lyrics.  A humorous version, called “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” was recorded by the Smothers Brothers on their 1961 debut album.

MUSIC: Issachar Miron / Parish: Tzena, Tzena, Tzena performed by The Weavers [Vanguard Records VCD-15/16, Track 3]  [1:10]

Tzena, Tzena, Tzena as sung by The Weavers.

And that concludes this hour devoted to “Jewish Gems.” It was inspired by my good friend Anne Bodin many years ago when she wondered if more Jewish music could be broadcast around Hanukkah the way Christian music is played around Christmas. That started me collecting Jewish folk songs and Jewish music to do just what Anne Bodin requested. Thanks, Anne, for getting me started. I really enjoy what I’ve turned up and I hope you and all the other listeners do, too.

If you missed part of the program or would like to hear it again, you can stream it on demand at compactdiscoveries.com. This is program number 239. And this is your guide to Compact Discoveries, Fred Flaxman, thanking you for listening.

MUSIC: excerpt from Jeff Warschauer: "The Singing Waltz: Klezmer Guitar & Mandolin": Dem Helfand’s Tants (The Elephant’s Dance) performed by Jeff Warschauer, guitar, mandolin, and others. [Omega OCD3027, Track 1]

ANNOUNCER (Tana Flaxman): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, Art and Eva Stevens, and ArkivMusic dot com, the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles. That’s A-r-k-i-v Music dot com.

Program Ends at 57:00