Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Di opgeflikte blumen - The Torn-off Blossoms - Yiddish version of Ellen Wright's "Violets" of 1900

The Torn-off Blossoms
to sing with the famous English melody "Violets"
by Mikhl Aronson

This song, I'm perplexed to say, was evidently extremely popular in 1900 or thereabouts. There are THREE different Yiddish versions of it in the Judah Katzenelenbogen Lider magazin collection. One is a close translation by this composer, Mikhl Aronson, and the other is a close translation by Solomon Shmulewitz.

I found this third version to be more interesting. It had three verses but I condensed it to two. It's really only suitable for a classical singer but I did my best.

Thanks to Jim Baird for the guitar part, which he recorded at home and emailed to me, we never once have played this together. Here's my living room recording from this morning (the lady is the composer, Ellen Wright):

Translation of the Yiddish and transliteration of the two verses I sang after the jump.

Di opgeflikte blumen

In a sheyn farputstn tsimer, in a prakhtfoln kafe
Zitsn yunge sheyne froyen, shtrasn froyen zaynen zey.
"Mir gedenken undzer yugnt, undzer kindhayt lang tsurik.
Reyn geven iz undzer zeele, undzer lebn ful mit glik."

Zise heymat, gute muter, vore libe - als avek.
Undzer lebn iz a hele ful mit angst un ful mit shrek.
Veysn mentshn az in trern esn mir dos shtikl broyt.
Oh, vos es git "zey" fargenign git undz dokh a frien toyt!

The torn-off blooms

In a beautifully appointed room, in a pretty cafe
Young lovely women sit, they're street walkers.
"We remember our youth, our childhood long ago.
Our souls were pure, our lives full of happiness."

Sweet home, good mother, true love - all gone.
Our life is a hell full of anxiety and terror.
Know, people, that we eat our bit of bread in tears.
Oh, that which gives "them" pleasure sends us early to our death.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:


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