OK so it’s a bit off the Operaramblings beaten path but there’s a concert coming up at Koerner Hall on August 28th that intrigues me. It’s called Yiddish Glory and it resurrects anti-fascist music that documents Nazi atrocities and Jewish resistance/partisan activities in the Soviet Union after the German invasion of 1941. They were collected by a team of Jewish Soviet ethnomusicologists led by Moisei Beregovsky during the war, but shortly afterwards, during Stalin’s anti-Jewish purge, the members were arrested, their work confiscated, and they died thinking the music was lost to history. In the early 2000s, a lucky coincidence brought University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis to Kiev, where she learned that the music had actually survived in the intervening decades following the researchers’ arrests, and in the years since, has led the research project to restore these songs. There’s also a CD. I’ve listened to a few tracks. The music is clearly Jewish and very much of the time. It’s redolent of horror and resistance and ultimately, hope. I find it deeply moving.
Here are the lyrics of one song Mayn Pulemyot – My Machine Gun; in English translation of course…
I lie beside my machine gun
And softly sing a Yiddish tune.
All around me, everything is quiet,
The only sound is the swish of the grasses.
I remember the joy of my shtetl,
Who wouldn’t recognize it?
Now it’s been emptied out,
there are no people left,
Oh, all the houses have been burned.
But [luckily] the Red Army is here
And she gave me a machine gun.
I fire at the Germans, again and again,
So that my people can live freely.
(So that all people should be free).
Oh, you vicious cannibals, feasting on humans,
Oh, you German bandits!
Hey, machine gun, aim for the target,
Not a single German should be left alive.
The show is being presented by Show One Productions and tickets can be obtained from the Koerner box office or http://www.rcmusic.ca