Part Five: Resources
The Folkslid group has begun a series of recorded sessions with savants of the Yiddish folksong to widen the discussion of analytical approaches.
Isabel Frey, 10/26/22
Click here to watch.
Isabel Frey added the following comment: This is a presentation of a part of my ongoing dissertation research on contemporary transmission practices of Yiddish folksong and singing style. It should be understood as an exercise in explorative theorizing, not as any kind of definitive statement. The material and the thoughts I present are very much work in progress and open for any kinds of comments or suggestions, that I will include in my research. I am very grateful to the Yiddish folksong study group to invite me to take part in this dialogue and hope it will continue.
Judit Frigyesi, 4/11/22
Alan Bern, 1/20/22
Alan Bern has added the following comment to the recording:
I want to thank the Yiddish Unaccompanied Song study group for the invitation to share my thoughts with them. I feel very fortunate to be able to consider each of these remarkable people a trusted friend, colleague, unique cultural resource and teacher for more than 30 years. May we have many years to come to continue sharing music, ideas and friendship!
For the sake of historical accuracy and respect for cherished relationships, I need to correct two statements that I made in this video that could be misleading. First, when speaking of my grandparents as “alien” to me, I meant that their Old World Yiddish ways of being and speaking were another world completely compared with the Midwestern culture and language in which I was raised in Bloomington, Indiana; by the time I was old enough to be ready to really understand my grandparents’ lives, they were no longer there. Second, I re-told Daniel Kahn’s anecdote about his meeting Arkady Gendler at Yiddish Summer Weimar too quickly: it’s not that Daniel thought that Arkady was speaking German, but that he thought the meaning of “darf” in Yiddish was the same as it is in German (where it means “may” rather than “need to.” I felt free to re-tell this anecdote because Daniel himself often tells it, and I apologize for having distorted it because of rushing to fit three sentences into one.
Itzik Gottesman, with support from the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, posts Yiddish songs with commentary weekly at Yiddish Song of the Week.
Over 2000 Yiddish folksongs can be heard in the Ruth Rubin Legacy archive at YIVO.
Yiddish folksongs can be heard in the Stonehill Jewish Song Archive presented by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. The collection continues to grow!
For online resources for Yiddish music in general, consult Amanda Seigel’s helpful survey.
Abigail Wood has kindly provided her index of Yiddish song books.
Zev Feldman and Michael Lukin produced a ground-breaking annotated bibliography, Eastern European Jewish Folk music, as part of the series Oxford Bibliographies Online. Unfortunately, this valuable resource is only available to subscribers such as libraries that allow member-only access. New York Public Library allows access to card holders, for example. For this website, Lukin has provided an alternate, unpublished version of the bibliography.
“The Uses of Printed Versions in Studying the Song Repertoire of East European Jews: First Findings,” in M. Herzog, B. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, D. Miron and R. Wisse eds., The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore and Literature, Fourth Collection. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1980, 329-70.
“Studying the Yiddish Folksong.” M. Slobin. Journal of Jewish Music and Liturgy IV, 1983, 7-11.
Articles and Research Reports
Zev Feldman has edited a special issue of the journal Shofar with important articles relevant to the Yiddish folksong and related traditions. You can find the Table of Contents and ordering information below; readers with institutional access to Project MUSE can access this free, others need to order it.
Jeffrey Shandler gave the talk “And now I have to read in Jewish something”: Yiddish Performances by Holocaust Survivors” at YIVO. It begins at ca. 13 minutes from the start of the video (after introductions) and ends at ca. 49 minutes from the start of the video, followed by Q&A. The talk includes clips from several survivor interviews in the Shoah archive, with English subtitles. The talk is based on part of Chapter 3, "Language: In Other Words," of Shandler’s book Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age: Survivors’ Stories and New Media Practices (Stanford University Press, 2017)
Recording & Transcription of "Researching Yiddish Folk Songs Then and Now" Presentation by Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett At the Annual YIVO Gathering with the Jewish People's Library in Montreal, March 31, 1973. Transcription and Translation by Joshua Waletzky 2021.
"Folksongs in the East European Tradition" from the repertoire of Mariam Nirenberg. By Barbara Kirshenblatt, Mark Slobin, and Eleanor Gordon Mlotek
From the YIVO Archives - Final Report on Eastern European Jewish Song in its Social Context: An Analysis of the Social Systemization of Folksong Performance by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.
Project Questionnaire from 1975 by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.
This site contains a number of Slobin’s talks on Yiddish music matters under the tab “Jewish topics,” not all on the topic of folksong proper.
Additionally, the Jewish Music Research Centre has published an additional article by Michael Lukin about Yiddish folksong.
"M.F. Gnesin on the Modal System of Jewish Music (Based on the Composer’s Archival Materials)"
Nauchnyi Vestnik Moskovskoi Konservatorii 2012, 6-25. By Izaly Zemtsovsky. Translated by Anya Shatilova, edited by Mark Slobin.
We are pleased to have permission from Joseph Levine, editor of the 2010 special issue on Yiddish topics of Jewish Synagogue Music, to reprint Max Wohlberg’s seminal article, “The Music of the Synagogue as a Source of the Yiddish Folk Song.”