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Makh Tsu Di Eygelekh
Makh tsi di eygelekh' (Close your eyes) was composed for the ghetto theatre, and performed in the ghetto by the singer Ella Diament. The song was written by Isaiah Shpigl, a writer-poet-essayist-teacher who survived the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz (1906-1990) and by the composer-conductor Dovid Beyglman (1887-1944). None of the survivors interviewed by Gila Flam for her book on songs of the Łódź ghetto could recall the song. The songs was published in several collections, including the collection of Shmerke Kaczerginsky (1948:92), and the recording here was also made by him for the Munich Historical Committee of 1946. The reason that survivors of Łódź could not recall the song is because Rumkowski censored the song, and Isaiah Shpigl was threatened with deportation. The song was not performed again.
The song is a lullaby, which was one of the most popular song genres of Yiddish folk and theatre music. In a typical Jewish lullaby, the mother soothens the child to sleep with promises of pleasant times to come. The father is usually absent, off making money for the child’s education; his return, however, is said to be imminent. Shpigl’s composition, turns this concept upside down: father will never come home. The child lies down to sleep in an open field at the mercy of the elements, his parents’ house been burned to the ground.
This is one of the hopeless songs composed for a public audience in the Łódź ghetto. Nature does not smile, God has brought night into the little boy’s world, and wind and hail accompany the child and the singer into the depths of the earth.
The music is a rare form of musical hybrid, a tango-lullaby. Evidently, tango melodies were very popular during the period, and the contrast between the horrifying lyrics and the sweet melody make the song even darker and more frightening.
Internationally recognized as one of this generation’s stellar performers and teachers of Yiddish vocal music, Adrienne Cooper appears on concert, theater, and club stages around the world. Her singing has been featured on some twenty recordings as well as on film, TV and radio.
From Carnegie Hall to the famed Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, from Moscow to Jerusalem, she has mesmerized audiences and worked at the heart of the klezmer revival scene, defining a wholly original interpretation of Yiddish song. She has performed and recorded with The Klezmatics, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass AllStars, David Krakauer, Zalmen Mlotek, So-Called, The Three Yiddish Divas, Marilyn Lerner, Michael Winograd, Alicia Svigals and Mikveh, Greg Wall’s Unity Orchestra, Joyce Rosenzweig,The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Kapelye, and performance artists Jenny Romaine and Sara Felder. Cooper is co-creator of groundbreaking works of Yiddish/English music theater – including the critically acclaimed “The Memoir of Gluckl of Hameln (with Jenny Romaine and Frank London/Great Small Works Theater),” “Ghetto Tango” (with Zalmen Mlotek), and “Esn: Songs from the Kitchen” (with Lorin Sklamberg and Frank London). Recent projects include her multi-media concert experience “Every Mother’s Son: Jewish Songs of War and Peacemaking “ featuring animations by Israeli visual artist Mor Erlich, and composer Marilyn Lerner’s revolutionary bilingual song cycle “Shake My Heart Like a Copper Bell: On the Poetry of Anna Margolin.”
Cooper’s inspired innovations in music and culture production have been recognized by awards, grants and commissions from University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center and UCLA, The Jewish Museum, United Synagogue, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National and New York State Endowments on the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. She is the recipient of Klez Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Yiddish Arts and Culture.
Zalmen Mlotek is an internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music and a leading figure in the Jewish theatre and concert worlds. Mr. Mlotek was raised in a prominent Yiddish speaking family renowned for its Jewish songbook collections. His formal training as a classical musician and conductor was at Julliard School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Tanglewood Music Center, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes School of Music. Among his most notable teachers and mentors was Leonard Bernstein. Mr. Mlotek also studied conducting with Zubin Mehta, James Levine and other masters of music and conducting.
Mr. Mlotek's deep roots in Yiddish culture, his elite musical education and his talent and passion for both have merged into a career that has revitalized the world of Yiddish music and theater. Mr. Mlotek brought Yiddish- Klezmer music to Broadway and off-Broadway stages as a co-creator, music director, and conductor of Those Were the Days, the first bilingual music honored with a Drama Desk Award and nominated for two Tony Awards. He was co-creator, music director and conductor for the The Golden Land, an off-Broadway hit that toured nationally and was produced in Italy under the sponsorship of Leonard Bernstein. Mr. Mlotek was the arranger and music director for Isaac Bashevis Singer's and Robert Brustein's acclaimed production of Shlemiel The First at Lincoln Center's Serious Fun Festival in 1995 that subsequently toured to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston.
He is currently the Artistic Director of The National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene, America's oldest Yiddish theater. He instituted bi-lingual simultaneous English supertitles at all performances and Russian supertitles as well. The National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene is dedicated to bringing quality performances of the spoken and sung Yiddish word, with accessible translation, to new audiences around the country. On Second Avenue, an historical musical overview of the heyday of the Yiddish Theater, was nominated for two Drama Desk awards and was performed in Los Angeles in February 2007.
In 1995 Mr. Mlotek conceived and was musical director for the first All Star Klezmer Extravaganza at Lincoln Center, filmed by PBS for Great Performances and later released on CD and video as In The Fiddler’s House with Itzhak Perlman. Mlotek has concertized in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Krakow, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and other cities in Europe and Israel and has performed extensively throughout North America.
His many recordings include several made at the request of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. His tribute to wartime Yiddish Theater, which he conceived in collaboration with Adrienne Cooper is performed all over the world and is available on the Traditional Crossroads label. Mlotek's Yiddish choral work can be heard on Mandy Patinkin's Yiddish language CD Mameloshen on Nonesuch Records. To purchase Mr. Mlotek's CDs please check our Online Store section.
Mr. Mlotek is the conductor of The New Yiddish Chorale which performs Yiddish choral treasures from Gilbert and Sullivan in Yiddish to theater, historical and folk songs. He has presented master classes in Yiddish art songs, folk, and theater music and taught at Columbia University, Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, the University of California at Berkeley, and Bar Ilan University.
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