Leo Fuld: A forgotten man?

By , October 30, 2014 1:42 pm

Leo FuchsDo you know this person?

Clue: He is a Dutch man who was once called the King of Yiddish Music.

Leo Fuld was one of the premier Yiddish performers in America during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Audiences loved to hear him sing Yiddish favorites in a combination of Yiddish and English. They loved his music which evoked the emotions and hardships of the Jewish people. Simply put, audiences loved the truth in his music.

One of his most famous compositions “Vi Ahin Zol lch Geyn? (Where Can I Go?), can still wrench the heart. It sold over one and a half million copies worldwide. Leo Fuld not only composed Yiddish songs, he also performed them with great success.  His list of recorded hits include: Ich Hab Dich Zu Viel Lieb (I Love You Much Too Much), Wus Geween Ist Geween, My Yiddishe Mama, Zigany Melody. The lyrics to his song, Mazzel, tells us something that we all know….a little luck can make a big difference!

Lyrics:

You gotta have a little mazzel,Leo Fuld
Mazzel means good luck,
‘Cause with a little mazzel,
You always make a buck.
And if you have no mazzel,
Although you’re on the ball,
You try and try and can’t get by,
You beat your head against the wall.
Don’t ever try to figure, why you seem to be to blame,
That some folks have a million, and can’t even write their name!

Fuld was born into a large family (the third of ten) in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He served as a cantor in the synagogue when only 16 years old. Like other young men of the time, however, he was also attracted to popular music. Just before the outbreak of World War II, he left for America, established himself as a singer of Yiddish songs and became a well-known and successful performer.

Returning home after the war, Fuld was devastated to find his beloved Rotterdam bombed beyond recognition and his entire family murdered.  With his red-hair and European accent he became a very recognizable Jewish performer when he returned to the USA. Combining Yiddish songs with swing music, and using both Yiddish and English lyrics he achieved stardom among Jewish audiences in the 1950s and 1960s. Performing with super-stars like Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf his admirers ran the gamut and included such luminaries as Frankie Laine, Billie Holiday, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye and even Albert Einstein.

Click here for more songs by Leo Fuld.

This blog was written by RSA guest blogger, Niels Falch. An independent researcher, Mr. Falch is especially interested in the influence of Jewish music on American popular songs. He lives near Amsterdam in Holland. Additional material supplied by Maxine Schackman, Director of the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries in Boca Raton, FL.

Vinyl record give-away a big hit with FAU students

By , October 23, 2014 6:52 pm

 

FAU students Allyson and Alexander browse through vinyl LPs.

FAU students Allyson and Alexander browse through vinyl LPs.

Over 300 FAU students and invited guests participated in the Recorded Sound Archives Vinyl Record Give-away event on October 20 and 21, 2014 at the Wimberly Library’s fifth floor on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.

More than 1,500 vinyl LP records were distributed as well as cassette tapes, and 45 rpm records (singles).

Established in 2002 to collect, organize and protect vintage audio recordings, the RSA houses more than 250,000 classical, jazz, Judaic and other vintage recordings, making FAU Libraries one of the top academic libraries in the nation for sound recordings.

Happy students,Kelly and Sydney,  are looking forward to sharing their vinyl finds with their families.

Happy students,Kelly and Sydney, are looking forward to sharing their vinyl finds with their families.

All the recordings in the archives were donated to the university by collectors and institutions. Recent efforts to organize and inventory the back-log of thousands of donated recordings resulted in the identification of duplicate and excess records that were not needed for the RSA collection. The RSA regularly receives about 10,000 donated recordings each year.

Marianna never heard of Jack Benny but she was interested to find out.

Marianna never heard of Jack Benny but she was interested to find out.

Some students expressed disappointment when they learned that classic rock icons such as the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Alice Cooper were not among the recordings being offered. One student commented, “Man, these are really, really old records.”

Yet, they were scooping up albums by Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Jack Benny and Robert Goulet. “Why did you choose this record I asked?” Very often the answer was something like, “I’m not sure but I think I remember my grandmother mentioning that she liked this singer.” For many adults of my age these recordings represented a “walk down memory lane”, but for these students it was a treasure trove of discovery. They asked for historical information about shows like “My Fair Lady” and “Oklahoma.” They showed me recordings of operas and wanted to know if Leontyne Price or Robert Merrill were good singers.

William was happy to find this classic Simon and Garfunkle album.

William was happy to find this classic Simon and Garfunkel album.

A group of young men scooped up a bunch of 45 rpm records and were surprised when I mentioned to them that they would need a special insert to fit in the large hole in order to play them on a standard phonograph. Many students said they had phonograph players and some said that they would go out and buy one just so they could listen to the music they had collected. A few lucky students were able to find used turntables at the give-away which also included several pieces of used equipment.

Austrian museum explores Jewish influence on recorded music

By , October 8, 2014 4:23 pm

plakat_jukebox_webJukebox. Jewkbox! An exhibition of the Jewish Museum Hohenems in collaboration with the Jewish Museum Munich will run from October 19, 2014 until March 8, 2015.

According to the website  of the Hohenems Jewish Museum in Austria the exhibit presents the history of Jewish recordings “from the first gramophones and shellac records to the dissolution of this medium in World Wide Web.”

This sounds like a wonderful project. Looking at sound recordings as cultural mirrors of the 20th century experience, the exhibitors write that “the omnipresent sound of the 20th century, its best known songs, musicals and soundtracks was not always Jewish music – but always also a product of Jewish history and experience.”

We do not know which recorded gems are included in this European exhibit but the Judaic Collection/Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries in Boca Raton FL hopes you will enjoy the following authentic recordings from the early 20th century.

Molly Picon – Abi Gesind    
Simon Paskal – Aheim Aheim    
Al Jolson – Angel Child   
Arthur Pryors Band – At a Hebrew Wedding

M Kanewsky – Auf’n Pripetchok

Andrews Sisters – Bei Mir Bist du Shon  (snippet)

Benny Bell – Celebration Freylach

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