Polish Jewish Cabaret: a library of wonderful but forgotten Yiddish songs of the 1920s - 1930s. Have a listen!

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Vaser (to the tune of Wanda, a tango by Jerzy Peterburski) - parody tango about the day the water was shut off in Warsaw

Artur Gold and Jerzy Petersburski orchestraHere's a live version of us singing "Vaser" -

Or click this album cover to hear the recording (you can even buy it) of Vaser, which was the first song from the Itzik Zhelonek books I put together for the Mappamundi Cabaret Warsaw project.



I first came upon my stash of obscure theater song books when Beth Holmgren and I were making plans to begin our cd Cabaret Warsaw. In "35 Newest Hits from Azazel and Sambatiyon" - these two venues being the biggest names in Yiddish kleynkunst theater in Warsaw in 1929 - one of the songs, Vaser, indicated at the top of the page: "sing to the melody of Wanda."

This turned out to be a wonderful tango by the famous Polish Jewish composer Jerzy Petersburski, original Polish lyrics by Andrzej Włast. Here's Wanda, the original song by Jerzy Petersburski, from Youtube:


You can get the sheet music with translation etc. here:


Jerzy Petersburski had a great orchestra with his cousin, violinist Artur Gold and a few of their recordings are available on Youtube.

Whoever wrote this parody was describing a day the water mains (vodotchang is the way the Polish word for water mains is transliterated into Yiddish) broke in Warsaw and it brought out everybody's worst nature. People were slipping and sliding all over the place and grabbing at each other and "butting in line" as we used to say when I was in grade school.

Translation and Yiddish lyrics after the jump:

Listen to this misfortune we suffered,
Such a thing never happened before.
That we in Warsaw should be without water,
That is not a pretty thing!
One morning, out of the blue, a great wailing broke out in Warsaw
People were expecting to get their water;
Suddenly they were running from everywhere!

Water - there was a great outcry!
Everybody went nuts!
Water - people ran all over the place.
You couldn't get water at any price!
Water - a woman ran with two pails, shouting!
Water - when she arrived the water was turned off.
Water! So she went off her rocker.
Water - this is a pretty world these days!

Some woman, she's instantly running,
(because she wants to be first in line),
So listen what happens next:
There's a torrent of yelling and tears,
Because while she's standing in line
(Not expecting anything at all unusual to happen)
There's a stampede and people rush by her
And they even knock into her pail!

Water! It's slippery, people are falling and yelling.
Water! The water main is turned off.
Water! People are running in the mud
Everyone's grabbing and shouting
Water! You turn the faucet, nothing comes out.
Water! The sidewalk is smeared with mud.
Water! This really stinks!
Water! We're getting tired of shlepping it around!

Suddenly Reb Ber comes running to me.
He says they're about to close the main water line
And that very moment the water's gone.
It's shut off for 24 hours!
From the houses and courtyards people run, complaining,
Everybody's furious.
They run down the stairs with pails
And all the neighbors are fighting!

Click for a larger view:



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1 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

The tango piece titled "Wanda" was written by Kazimierz Englard and Jerzy Petersburski, and its first performance took place in Warsaw, Poland, on July 12th 1928.

November 16, 2015 at 1:57 PM  

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