Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Friday, January 1, 2021

Der tsvantsigster yorhundert (The Twentieth Century) - Isaac Reingold's cri de cœur

The twentieth century
To sing with the melody of Zunser's famous song
The nineteenth century
Created by Isaac Reingold
(Click to view or download large image)



Isaac Reingold, as pointed out before (put his name in the search box above), was regarded as a very serious and important poet of the worker, even though he is mostly featured on this blog as the rhymer who wrote silly Yiddish versions of silly American songs (probably for a pittance). Here he bewails his dark, venal century as it geared up for war.

The melody he cites, by Eliakum Zunser (Tsunzer), is - like most of Zunser's melodies - a meandering mess. One brave man - Nathaniel A. Entin - took on the task of recording an album of these songs, and you can hear it and buy it on Amazon: Selected Songs of Eliakum Zunser. It includes this song, Der nayntsnter yorhundert (spelled Der Neinzehnter Yahr Hundert).

Rarely did Yehudah Katzenelenbogen's Lider magazin devote a whole page to one lyric. Maybe that means this one was especially dear to him.

Maybe in the decades to come some researcher will stumble across this post while writing about the works of Isaac Reingold. If you are interested in this song and I'm still alive, I'll transliterate and translate it for you. Be in touch.


For sheet music and/or performances contact me: jane@mappamundi.com

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