Conference Proceeding: Reviving Lost Yiddish Theater Songs: The Itzik Zhelonek Collection

For decades, performers of Yiddish music have been recycling the same few "shlagers" (hits), ignorant of the wealth of Yiddish theater songs now almost extinct but still - just barely - findable. When the last 78 of a pre-war song is broken, the song disappears from our world forever. Jane will discuss a spectacular primary resource found at the Chabad library in Brooklyn: a collection of seven booklets of "Newest and Most Beloved" theater song lyrics published in Warsaw, Poland 1929-1934. Jane spent three years tracking down the melodies to these lyrics and will share her process and some of the wonderful treasures she unearthed. The end product was the songbook Yiddish Songs from Warsaw 1929-1934: the Itsik Zhelonek Collection and three CDs of this clever, lovely, but obscure music, adored between the World Wars but evidently deemed too frothy and cosmopolitan for the post-Holocaust era. The presentation will include musical examples and the projected translations she now uses to bring the music alive for a generation which has lost its understanding of the Yiddish language.

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