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

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Vu ahin zol ikh geyn? Where shall I go?

I received an email this morning:

My mother taught me a yiddish song when I was a very young girl. The name was vie a heen zulich gayn (where can I go). I am now 73 years old and would love to teach it to my granddaughter

My correspondent has run up again the constant problem of Yiddish transliteration. The song she is looking for is, in standard YIVO orthography, Vu ahin zol ikh geyn. A brief web search turned up these variants:

Vi Ahin Zol Ich Geyn
Vi ahin zol aich gein
Vi Ahin Zol Ikh Geyn
Russian: Куда мне идти?

And I just found this one on ebay, Wie ahin soll ich gehn:



If you're interested in a discussion of Yiddish tango before, during, and after the war, see HolocaustMusic. There are dozens of wartime tangos.

This one was composed by Oskar Strock, with lyrics by playwright Igor S. Korntayer (Korn-Teuer), who died in Auschwitz.

The most famous rendition currently is by the Barry Sisters (whose songs are rarely found in searches using YIVO spelling). However I vastly prefer the version by Menashe Oppenheim:





My correspondent wanted the sheet music, Luckily for her, I wrote it all out about a decade ago when I was conductor of the Triangle Jewish Chorale and the song was requested for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust remembrance day. Here it is (with the harmonies, translation, etc):




Lyrics after the jump:



Der yid vert geyogt un geplogt
Nisht zikher iz far im yeder tog
Zayn lebn iz a finstere nakht
Zayn shtrebn alts far im iz farmakht

Farlozn bloyz mit sonim. Kayn fraynt,
Kayn hofnung on a zikhern haynt

Vu ahin zol ikh geyn? Ver ken enfern mir?
Vu ahin zol ikh geyn az farshlosn iz yeder tir?
S'iz di velt groys genug nor far mir iz eng un kleyn
Vi a blik 'kh muz tsurik s'iz tseshtert yeder brik
Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?

Dort ahin vel ikh geyn tsu mayn land vu s'iz fray
Dort ahin vel ikh geyn boyen vel dir af s'nay
A land vi yidishkayt blit lebn vet dort fray
Der yid yisroel undzer heym
Der yid lebt fray un ayngenem
Dort ahin vel ikh geyn.

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