Category: Vintage Recordings Pre-1950

Molly Picon

By , May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

Defying expectations, changing the rules, and making us laugh.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries honors the work and life of Molly Picon. Compiling 58 of her earliest songs produced on 78 rpm records and four of her LP albums produced later in her career, the JSA invites you to revisit the talents of a truly great Jewish female icon.

Who was Molly Picon?

She was an actress, singer, and comedian whose career spanned over 70 years. Debuting in the Yiddish Theater at the age of 6 she emerged as a respected American actress, performing in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) with Frank Sinatra, and having starring roles on Broadway in Milk & Honey (1961) and  film, Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

Molly Picon’s career followed Yiddish culture from the shtetl into mainstream America. Small and very youthful-looking she often had to fight to be taken seriously. She wore male clothing as a disguise through most of her breakout performance in Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936) and many of her other early roles, including the well-known “Yankele.” In today’s world she might be considered to be a voice for women’s rights.

Click here for Molly’s LP albums.

Click here for Molly’s 78 rpm recordings.

Click here to see film clip of a very young Molly Picon singing the title song from Yid’l Mit’n Fidl.

Mischa Elman

By , April 19, 2013 8:43 am

Six new Mischa Elman compilations from the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries has created six digitized compilations from 77 original 78 rpm recordings of world famous Jewish violinist, Mischa Elman.

All these recordings were originally produced between 1906 and 1921.

Click here for Mischa Elman’s biographical notes.

Click here to hear Mischa Elman’s digitized recordings at the Judaica Sound Archives.

Click here to see a  video of Mischa Elman playing Humoresque.

This film short, produced in 1926 by Vitaphone Sound Pictures, demonstrated a new technology  as innovative and exciting in its day as the first i-phone.  A year later the first feature-length talking motion picture, “The Jazz Singer,” put an end to silent movies.

 

Remembering the Titanic

By , April 4, 2013 4:51 pm

There are few stories which affect us as powerfully as the story of the sinking of the Titanic.

It is a story of arrogance, pomposity, and cruel disregard for human life.

It is a story of bravery, compassion and self-sacrifice.

It is a story about horrible deaths.

It is a story of survival.

The British ship Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg only four days into her maiden voyage. The sinking of the Titanic caused the deaths of 1,502 of the 2,224 passengers and crew she carried.

Noted for its luxury and opulence the Titanic had a swimming pool, first-class restaurants, and every modern convenience of the time. She carried hundreds of emigrants on their way to North America and also some of the wealthiest people in the world. This unsinkable vessel also carried only enough lifeboats for 1,178 souls.

On April 14, 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg. The ship gradually filled with water. First class women and children were hurriedly loaded into lifeboats.  When the ship finally broke apart and foundered there were still over a thousand people aboard.  Two hours later the RMS Carpathia was able to rescue 705 survivors.

The disaster was greeted with worldwide shock and outrage at the huge loss of life and the procedural failures that had led to it. It is suspected that over 100 Jews died on the Titanic, many of them poor immigrants on their way to America. Others were crew members and also wealthy, prominent Jews who occupied first-class cabins. Jewish first-class passengers, Ida and Abraham Straus went down with the ship along with Jewish millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim.

Cantor Josef (Yossele) Rosenblatt, being a man of great heart, felt called upon to reach out with help for all those who had lost loved ones in the tragedy. Raising his powerful voice in song, he recorded “El mole rachmin (fur Titanic)” for Victor records soon afterwards. Record sales soared and Rosenblatt was able to collect over $150,000 in royalties, which was promptly donated to help the bereaved  families.  Click  to hear original recording.

 

English translation: Exalted, compassionate God,  grant perfect peace in Your sheltering Presence, among the holy and the pure,  to the souls of all our beloved who have gone to their eternal home. May their  memory endure as inspiration for deeds  of charity and goodness in our lives.  May their souls thus be bound up in the  bond of life. May they rest in peace.  And let us say: Amen.

The American Jewish community was especially touched by the bravery and death of Ida Straus who chose to die alongside her husband. Solomon Smulewitz, a prolific writer for the Yiddish theater, wrote “Der Naser Kaver (The Watery Grave)” a graphic and moving song about the tragic event. Click to hear the original recording.

 

English translation: There stand, in woe/The thousands in need/And know that death/will dash them down/Then they cry, “Save yourselves/into the boats quickly, women/No man dare/ Take a place tbere.”/But listen to one woman-soul/who can say/”I won’t stir from the spot/I’ll die here with my husband.”/Let small and great honor/the name of Ida Straus! (from Tenement Songs by Mark Slobin; 1982).

PLEASE click here  to hear FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives compilation of  14 original songs from the Titanic Era.


Living in America

By , June 28, 2012 10:36 am

Now you can celebrate the 4th of July and your Jewish heritage at the same time.

This new compilation of songs from the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries in Boca Raton, FL is about the American Jewish experience.

It contains  Yiddish songs recorded during the early 20th century and expresses a Jewish immigrant perspective on New York, Coney Island and other things distinctly American.

You will also hear American patriotic songs sung by Jewish performers, Mike Burstyn singing about America in Hebrew and, from FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives Vintage 78s Collection, a very young Frank Sinatra singing “America the Beautiful.”

Click on the image above to hear this special compilation of songs from the JSA.

1. My America’s Free: Written byJerome Lipman and Irving Lewis. Sung by Molly Picon and Seymour Rechtzeit with the Abraham Ellstein Orchestra and Dave Tarras on clarinet. This upbeat tune lists some of the many things to love about America…..especially freedom!

2. Ich Dank dir Got fur America: Sung by Liebele Waldman.

3. America: Sung by Yiddish Theater star, Josef Feldman.

4. Yankee Doodle: This well-known Anglo-American song from the revolutionary War era is sung by Jewish singer/educator, Judy Caplan Ginsburgh.

5. I’m Going to Miami: Benny Bell tells a story of his trip to Miami Beach, Florida by train.

6. Hot Dogs and Knishes: Aaron Lebedeff sings this comic Yiddish song about Coney Island, NY.

7. Hurray far NY: This recording is from a 1967 recording of Pesach Burstein’s Yiddish Theater performance from “The Vilna Komiker.”

8. America Ich Lieb Dich (America I Love You): Sung by Yiddish Theater star, Gus Goldstein.

9. Ragtime Fiddle: Written by Irving Berlin and sung by Simon Paskal

10. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny: Originally a song sung by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, it was recast in 1878 from the slave’s perspective. This 1916 recording by Jewish opera star, Alma Gluck, is said to have been the first operatic celebrity recording to ever sell a million copies.

11. Tell That to the Marines: Written during WWI,  sung by Al Jolson.

12. God Bless the USA: This recordingis from the Judy Caplan Ginsburgh album, Musical America.

13. America America: Mike Burstyn’s tribute to the land of his birth sung in Hebrew.

14. America the Beautiful: This recording by a very young Frank Sinatra is from FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives Vintage 78rpm music collection.

Celebrate klezmer!

By , February 27, 2012 9:41 am

4th Annual KULTUR FESTIVAL: A Celebration of Jewish Music and Arts

March 3—11, 2012

FAU Libraries, Boca Raton, FL

Can’t make it to South Florida?

You can join in the celebration of klezmer right here at the Judaica Sound Archives!

The word “klezmer” derives from two Hebrew words meaning instruments of music. The roots of klezmer can be traced back to 15th century Eastern Europe. Klezmer music incorporates Chassidic melodies, folk tunes, and Jewish celebration dances. However, most ethno-musicologists would tell you that what we refer to as “klezmer” in 21st century America bears very little resemblance to the musical compositions of 100 or 200 years ago. Today’s “klezmer” is like a  kaleidoscopic musical mirror that captures sound bits from the Jewish experience and reflects them back in new and sometimes wildly improbable ways.

Steeped in traditional Jewish sounds and melodies, klezmer is no longer chained to the shtetl. Today’s klezmer can be heard on the internet in Jewish homes around the world. Today’s klezmer can absorb interesting new flavors as the Jewish world of music expands.

Today’s klezmer music wakes up our Jewish cultural memory and provokes us to dance, to celebrate, to be Jewish!

Early klezmorim played the violin and other stringed instruments. Around 1855 the clarinet began to gain prominence. In the USA, clarinetists Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein spear-headed a klezmer revolution during the 1920’s. Today klezmer music continues to evolve.  It now includes everything from traditional renditions to mind-blowing fusions.

TheJudaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries invites you to enjoy klezmer music from the past and the present.

Adrianne Greenbaum – FleytMuzik Klezmer music for flute

Benny Bell – To the Bride

Effy Netzer and his band – Folk Dance in Israel Today

Harry Kandel- Kandel’s Orchestra (1917-1918) Vol. 1

Klezmer Company Orchestra – Beyond the Tribes

The Original Klezmer jazz Band

Paul Green – Klezmer East

Rudy Tepel and his Orchestra- Lubavitch Wedding

Yiddishe Cup – Klezmer Guy

My favorite videos on YouTube

By , June 13, 2011 2:50 pm

Although the Judaica Sound Archives does not collect or preserve video materials we LOVE watching some of the wonderful clips on YouTube. Supporters and friends of the JSA often send us links to film clips that they think we will enjoy.  Here are some of our favorites. What are yours?

The following YouTube videos indicate that you don’t have to be Jewish to love Jewish music…..

Connie Francis released this album of Jewish songs in 1960. She talks about how much Jewish music has meant to her in this video. Click here. (3 min.)

If you haven’t heard Tom Jones singing My Yiddishe Momma you are in for a treat.  Click here. (2 min, 33 sec.)

Charles Aznavour also sings My Yiddishe Momma. He not onlymakes this rendition totally his own he also makes it powerful and totally unique.  I love this recording.  Click here. (6 min, 32 sec.)

We all love Julie Andrews.  Did you ever wonder what it would be like if she sang at a Jewish wedding?  Well, now you know! Click here. (4 min., 24 sec.)

Prof. Josh Kun discusses the meaning and importance of Hava Negila. Leonard Nimoy, Irving Fields, Harry Bellafonte and many others add their talents. Click here. (9 min.)

Sophie Tucker sings her iconic rendition of My Yiddishe Momma in this clip. Click here. (7 min., 9 sec.)

Think you’ve heard it all?  Here is a new perspectives on some old Jewish music.

Meshugga Beach Party performs Sholem Aleichem like you have never heard it before. Click here.  (2 min., 12 sec.)

Saul Family Given Recognition for Gift to FAU Libraries

By , April 28, 2011 8:55 am

When I learned that Marlene Englander (Jack Saul’s daughter) and her husband Jon would be visiting us on Feb. 28, 2011 I couldn’t have been more excited. Marlene had been very helpful to the Recorded Sound Archives in negotiating the details of the delivery of two large truckloads of audio recordings from her mother’s home in Cleveland to FAU Libraries.

As a matter of fact, it was this enormous gift of recordings from the Saul family that inspired FAU Libraries to create the Recorded Sound Archives (RSA). Over the past six years the Judaica Sound Archives has been gaining in prominence and size. So you can imagine the excitement when we started unpacking the Saul Collection and found hundreds of gems that were new the JSA collection. Since Jack Saul had a wonderful collection of early Victor recordings we were able to put together collections of music by such Jewish entertainment super-stars as Al Jolson, Jascha Heifetz, Efrem Zimbalist and Alma Gluck.

FAU Libraries’ large collection of Jazz recordings did not fit within the parameters of the JSA and had been sitting dormant on the shelves at Wimberly Library. This new addition of more than 50,000 non-Jewish 78rpm recordings of classical, popular and folk music as well as historic speeches were also inappropriate for the JSA. Luckily, we were in a position to apply what we had learned processing Jewish recordings to these other music treasures. Creating a more comprehensive Recorded Sound Archives just seemed like the logical thing to do.

We gave Marlene and Jon a tour of the new RSA’s three separate areas: Judaica, Jazz and Vintage 78’s.

Alethea Perez (RSA Operations Coordinator) and Marlene Englander (Jack Saul’s daughter)

“How much of this came from my father?” she asked looking down a long aisle of records. “Just about all of them,” I replied. I was especially pleased to be able to show Marlene the recognition “gold record” that had been placed on our Sound Angels wall and to present  her with a similar plaque to take home to her mother.

Not long ago I received the following email from Marlene.  I am proud to share it with you.

“What a pleasure it was to … see the fabulous things you are doing with both the Recorded Sound Archives in general and the Jack Saul collection in particular. Our family is so pleased with the dedication and devotion of your staff and volunteers in working to provide access to this unique resource.  [We] were pleased to see familiar faces – you, Ben, Alethea, Dean William Miller and Associate Dean Rita Pellen – and to meet a volunteer who was so excited to have found a signed 78 recording from the collection while we there!

Upon returning home, I couldn’t wait to show my mother some of the pictures, and she, of course, was very pleased. She also was touched by the plaque you had made for her and to see that our family’s name is now on your donor wall. I hope she will join us on our next trip – the way the weather is up here, it may be sooner than anticipated!

Again, many thanks for all your hard work, your wonderful blogs (which I read regularly) and your ongoing commitment to preserving not only my father’s collections of Jazz, vintage and Judaica recordings, but those of others as well.”

Marlene and Jon Englander

(Jack Saul Family)

“You ain’t heard nothin’ yet”: Al Jolson sings

By , October 4, 2010 9:35 am

“The Jazz Singer,” released in 1927, was the first commercially successful “talking motion picture.” One of the most iconic moments in movie history occurs in this film when Al Jolson on stage, turns to his enthusiastic audience and says, “Wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”  This promise of even more exciting entertainment to come is fulfilled as he sings “Toot-toot-tootsie” using moves that could have made Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson jealous. The effect is electrifying.

Known as “The World’s Greatest Entertainer” during his lifetime, Al Jolson’s life story (on which the movie was based) tells of a young Jewish boy who is driven to become a Pop singer despite the fact that his Orthodox father wants him to be a Cantor.

Who would think that a Jewish child born in anti-Semitic Tsarist Russia could become an American entertainment icon whose fame would continue to flourish  more than 50 years after his death?

When Asa Yoelson was only four years old his father became a rabbi and left his family and the old country to find a better life. After four years the Rabbi found a position in Washington D.C. and his family joined him. Tragically Asa’s mother died in 1895 only a short time after her arrival in the USA.

Embracing their “American” identities, young Asa soon became known as Al and his older brother Hirsh became Harry. The boys were obsessed with show business and by 1901 they were getting bookings in burlesque and vaudeville.

In 1904 Al, now known as Al Jolson, was called upon to fill-in for a performer in a blackface vaudeville comedy show.  Blackface, an important performance tradition in the American theater beginning around 1830 can now be seen as racist and offensive. But to young Al Jolson it was a blessing. Hidden behind the make-up, he found that he could give a freer, more energetic performance.  When this chance opportunity was well-received by the audience and critics, he soon decided to continue using blackface. The spontaneity and freedom he felt when in blackface elevated his performance and his fame.

In 1911 Jolson had his Broadway debut. His rendition of George M. Cohan’s Haunting Melody in the show “Vera Violetta “made him a Broadway star.

This was followed by other Broadway musicals and other hits for Jolson including You Made Me Love You in 1913 where he sang the final chorus pleading on one knee, a pose he would assume many times over in his career; Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody (1918); and George Gershwins’s Swanee (1918).

To hear all 55 songs in the JSA’s collection, click here. This collection of songs originally recorded by Al Jolson on 78 rpm discs between 1911 and 1919 was digitized and compiled by The Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries. These albums are not available for sale or reproduction.

Post-war America dances to a Latin beat

By , September 2, 2010 3:45 pm

Several of the Vogue Picture records in the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries capitalize on America’s love affair with Latin rhythms during the 1930s , 40s and 50s.

During the Prohibition Era (1920-1933), Havana, Cuba was a popular tourist destination for Americans seeking fun and excitement. One of the pleasures they discovered there was the rhumba. Popularized by performers such as Spanish-Cuban bandleader Xavier Cugat and Desi Arnaz, Latin ballroom dances and rhythms became a common staple of American entertainment for decades.

Riding this wave of popularity Sav-way produced several Latin-themed recordings and a series of recorded rhumba ballroom dance lessons. By today’s standards the music seems somewhat watered down and mild.  Nevertheless, these recordings give us a true representation of Americanized Latin music as it actually was during the mid-20th century.

Vogue Records: Spinning a pretty picture

By , August 18, 2010 3:52 pm

The Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries has been sorting, organizing, washing and digitizing tens of thousands of vintage 78 rpm recordings since we received a large donation of the discs from the estate of Cleveland collector, Jack Saul.

Hundreds of boxes containing vintage 78 rpm recordings remain stacked in the hallways while others are being opened by volunteers. The black shellac discs are piled high on work tables for volunteers to sort.

Opening the first box containing Vogue Picture Records caused a commotion that I could hear all the way in my office down the hall. Volunteers had discovered over 20 recordings that were stunningly beautiful. This was the first time any of us had ever seen such lovely artwork embedded within an entire record. “It’s like finding an unexpected treasure,” one of our volunteers told me.

The Recorded Sound Archives has now inventoried 62 different pictures on 32 two-sided 78 rpm discs. The pictures, together with the songs embedded within them, provide a glimpse into the post WWII American pop scene. The recordings feature the big band sounds popular at the time, swing sounds for teenagers, hillbilly/country songs, children’s songs and stories, and reflecting a growing interest in South American culture, Rhumba dance lessons and music with a Latin beat.

Despite Sav-Way’s inability to attract big-name recording talent, these beautiful discs are appealing to collectors who value them as standouts among the drab black shellac records of their day and because the limited number of different titles (74) make them more valuable as a complete set.

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