Recorded by almost every every pop and jazz artist, translated into many languages, it was also a hit in Hitler’s Germany, “until the Nazi Party discovered that its composer was a Jew, and that the song’s title was Yiddish rather than a south German dialect.”
Listen to a 16-minute NPR documentary on the Project, focused on Yiddish Melodies in Swing, sponsored by the Manischewitz Company. The program ran for nearly 20 years, from 1938, when it had a large studio with a live audience of 1,000 and a large orchestra – all of which dwindled through the years.
Don’t miss the exhibit about crooner Seymour Rexite (originally Rechtzeit – for the genealogists reading this!) and listen to his Yiddish versions of “Surrey with a Fringe on Top/Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” 1948; “Tea for Two,” (with Miriam Kressyn), c1950; “Love and Marriage,” (with Miriam Kressyn) c1950; “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” 1954; Barbasol jingle, 1948; and the Ajax jingle, 1952.
In “Love and Marriage,” note that “horse and carriage” are now geyt tzuzamen vi zup un knaydlakh (go together like soup and matzoh balls).
There’s much more on this Yiddish radio phenomenon as the Library of Congress has recently posted a video presentation on the topic by scholar Henry Sapoznik of the Yiddish Radio Project, recorded October 14. 2009. This presentation is detailed in another Tracing the Tribe post.