Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Friday, April 15, 2016

Franz Josef's toyt (The Death of Franz Joseph) to "She is More to be Pitied than Censured."

This is the third and last of the penny songs set to this tune. The first two were A froy in mayn shikzal iz shuldik and Dos lid fun nokh dem fayer. Once again, the sweet, cheerful tune is at odds with the subject matter.

Franz Joseph I died November 21, 1916, so this song probably came out not long after that. I read a lot in Melech Ravitch about how the Austrian Jews loved Franz Josef and his wife. Morris Rund, who wrote this lyric, was from Austria.

Click the Yiddish broadside above for a larger view - you can also enjoy the fortune teller's ad. And more unusually, Morris (a baker and a member of Local 100 the Kosher Bakers Union) advertises his side business with his buddy Bezante:

Morris Rund and L. Bezante - rhymers and singers. Turn to them for amusement, weddings, betrothals, brises, parties, banquets, etc. for the best enjoyment. Write a postcard and we'll come to your house.

Back to the song at hand. Here's my recording, re-using for the third time the piano accompaniment Aviva Enoch made for me a while back:

The transliteration and translation are below:

A troyer iz in Estraykh a khurbn
Nit eyner fargist dort a trer
Der alter monarkh iz geshtorbn
Frants Yoysef er lebt shoyn nit mer
Di yidn zey megn yetst klogn
Veynen mit trern fun blut
Vayl Frants Yoysef hot zey nit geshlogn
Vi Emelek un der Katsap tut!

Oy a khurbn in Estraykh iz haynt
Frants Yoysef der alter is toyt
Farloyrn hobn yidn a fraynd
Vos hot zey geshitst in a noyt
Nit gevist hot der yid fun pogromen
Gegebn im rekht im und im
Darum yidn halt heylik zayn nomen
Un troyert, yo troyert yetst nokh im

Der alter Frants Yoysef baym lebn
Gemakht hot er keyn untershid
Er hot frayhayt dort yedn gegebn
Dem krist azoy oykh gut dem yid
Er hot yidn keyn mol nit getribn
Bashitst zey in noyt un fun plog
Zayn toyt darf baym yid zayn farshribn
Un troyrn zol er dem tog!

In Estraykh tut blut zikh yetst gisn
Frants Yoysef hot dos nit gevolt
Der emes tut yeder yetst visn
Az Rusenland hot nor di shuld
Frants Yoysef geton hot regirn
Dokh zayn folk geshits yedn trit
Oysgehit zikh milkhomes tsu firn
Nit gevolt hot er fargisn blut!

There's terrible sadness in Austria, a destruction
More than one person is crying
The old monarch is dead
Franz Joseph lives no more
The Jews may lament now, cry tears of blood
Because Franz Joseph didn't beat on them like Emelek (famous anti-semite) and the Russian does!

Oy, there is a disaster in Austria today
Franz Joseph the first is dead
Jews lost a friend who defended them in their hardships
The Jews never knew pogroms there, he gave rights to everyone
So Jews, hold his name holy and grieve for him now

The old Franz Joseph in his lifetime
Made no distinctions,
He gave freedom to everybody, Christians and Jews
He never drove the Jews out
He defended them from being plagued
His death should be memorialized by Jews
And we should grieve the day

In Austria, blood is flowing now,
Franz Joseph never wanted that.
Everybody should know the truth now:
It was all Russia's fault.
Franz Joseph made laws to protect people
He wanted to keep away from war
He didn't want blood to pour.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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