Mordechai Gebirtig: His Poetic and Musical Legacy

Edited by Gertrude Schneider

Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000.
Prologue 1-6. pp. 209. bibl. index.
Scores. Texts in Yiddish language, transliteration and English translations.

A biography by Sara Rosen about Gebirtig (17-38) gives a very good picture of the life of the composer. Included in the book are songs with score, and poems and songs with only the texts surviving. Also included in the introductory section are pieces that the editor speculates are written by Gerbirtig.

Mordechai Gebirtig was a folk composer of Yiddish song who lived in and around Crakow, Poland, and died during the Holocaust. He was a poor carpenter who was self-taught in music and composed songs completely by ear, remembering them all in his head. Because he was illiterate in music, friends notated his songs. Despite the handicaps, Gebirtig’s (also spelled Gebertig) songs grew wildly popular and were picked up, even in the United States, to become part of folk, popular theater and sheet music repertoire. Several books of his music were published during his lifetime. This volume attempts to bring the body of his work together in one place, and to include as many previously unpublished items as possible. Many of the printed scores appear to be taken directly from the original proofs of his earlier publications –as the printing, fonts and score are identical to Gebirtig’s own publications from Mayne Lider.

Sara Rosen’s wonderful biography includes ample mention of sources for those who had first hand knowledge about Gebirtig.

Gertrude Schneider’s moving Prologue to the volume gives the outlines of her interaction early in her life with his work.
jp 03.04.02