Recently I have begun to investigate the secular music of the Jews who lived in Poland prior to World War II. I discovered this beautiful tango on Jurek's YouTube Channel and decided to post it on PoloniaMusic.com as a starting point for my research.
Jurek provides this information about the tango, "Rebeka":
There were many Jewish songs composed in pre-war Poland meant for Polish speaking audiences and 'Rebeka' was one of the most popular. Basically it's a story of a poor shop girl who falls in love with a handsome and rich gentleman that visits her shop. For her it was love at first sight and his memory would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Before the war, a full text version was recorded only by Zofia Terné (1932). After the war the tango-song became a Polish standard recollecting times "when Jews were among us". Sung by such interpreters as Wanda Warska, Elżbieta Kępińska, Ewa Demarczyk, Sława Przybylska and many, many others.
Here is another version of the tango "Rebeka" by vocalist Stefan Witas (1908-2006) and instrumentalist, Henryk Gold:
Rebeka - tekst piosenki
Key of F minor
Guitar Capo Position: 1st Fret
(August 15, 1897-c. 1942) was a Polish Jewish musician, born in Białystok, died in Warsaw, Poland. He was a Jewish composer of many popular songs, a conductor, and a première pianist in Warsaw between the World Wars.
His tango Rebeka, built on Chasidic motifs and sung by Chasidic Jews as zmiros was popular in nightclubs, coffee houses and restaurants across Warsaw between the wars. The words are by Andrzej Włast; the song was first recorded by Zofia Terne (1932) and premiered at the Morskie Oko cabaret by Dora Kalinówna.
.. and yet another version by Tadeusz Faliszewski (1932) from Grzegorz 240252 YouTube channel. This video includes some interesting images of Jewish life in the town of Kazimierz Dolny located on the banks of the Vistula River,
Tadeusz Faliszewski i Orkiestra Syrena Rekord pod dyr. Henryka Warsa - Rebeka (Zygmunt Białostocki /Andrzej Włast) Tango z rewii "Yo-yo" teatru Morskie Oko (Tango from theatre Morskie Oko show "Yo-yo"), Syrena-Electro 1932
According to Grzegorz : "This tango was first sung by actress Dora Kalinówna in Morskie Oko revue "Yo-yo" in November 1932, in Warsaw. The stage setting was the Market Place in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą (Kazimierz /on Vistula River) a lovely renaissance little town located on the riverside cliffs on the bank of Vistula. Before 1939 a large part of that town's population was Jewish, therefore in Polish collective memory Kazimierz has become a kind of a model for a Jewish shtetl in prewar Poland.
Dora Kalinówna was an actress and singer in Warsaw cabarets of 1920s and 1930s. She was a favourite of the Warsaw theatre frequenters in her special repertoire of the "schmonces" songs and humoristic scenes, based upon the Polish/Jiddish urban jargon of prewar Warsaw. Dora Kalinówna survived the Holocaust, some say that after 1945 she was seen in the USA, the others claim they read her name in postwar communist Polish newspapers, announcing arrival to Gdańsk and Gdynia in year 1949 "the trouppe of Russian actors" from Moscow with Dora Kalinówna as "fine performer of prewar Polish songs of Julian Tuwim". So, perhaps
she survived the war in the USSR and then she stayed there.
Composer Zygmunt Białostocki wrote many hits e.g. tango "Szczęście trzeba rwać jak świeże wiśnie" (Good Luck Has To Be Grabbed Like Fresh Cherries). During the 2nd World War, he was murdered by Germans in the nazi Ghetto in Warsaw, in 1943.
Kazimierz Dolny is an art center in Poland. Many painters retreat to this small town to paint and sell their work. Galleries can be found in almost every street, offering for sale sculptures, stained-glass, and fine-art paintings. In the market, folk art is for sale at unbeatable prices
Sir Gilbert Levine, author of The Pope's Maestro, discusses his 17-year friendship with Pope John Paul II and
how it impacted his art and life.
Sir Gilbert Levine, Concert of Reconciliation conductor, returns to Pittsburgh Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - Sir Gilbert Levine Concert of Reconciliation conductor returns to Pittsburgh.
BELOW: Author Sir Gilbert Levine with his friend, Pope John Paul II
The story of the friendship between a Jewish-American conductor and Pope John Paul II. This book offers the inspirational story of an unlikely friendship and the two men who collaborated in an extraordinary way to begin to help heal centuries-old wounds. For two decades Sir Gilbert Levine and Pope John Paul II collaborated on symbolic acts of reconciliation: a series of internationally broadcast concerts designed to bring together people from all religious backgrounds under the auspices of the Vatican. These concerts broke new ground and demonstrated the Vatican's desire for rapprochement and even atonement in its relationships with Jews around the world. And it resulted in Sir Gilbert recovering his own Jewish faith in a deeper and more meaningful way. Details the extraordinary collaboration between a world-renowned musical maestro and an innovative Pope. Shows how music can act as a bridge between people of different faiths A moving, inspirational, and personal story that appeals to music lovers and to people of all faith traditions. This is a compelling tale of faith, friendship, and the healing power of music to bring people together.
Also, according to an article in the Polish American Journal (February 2012, p.6), "Jerzy Kluger, the Polish Jewish boyhood friend of the late Pope John Paul, who had a large influence on the pontiff's revolutionary relations with Jews died age 92 in a Rome hospital and was buried January 2, 2012 in Rome's Jewish cemetery. He had been living in a home for the elderly east fo the Italian capital."
In this video, Roger Bennnett, Josh Kun and David Katznelson give you a short tour to the events of the 21st Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, in the summer of 2011. Feat.: Jeremiah Lockwood and The Sway Machinery, Arie Kaplan, David Krakauer, Josh Dolgin aka DJSocalled, Fred Wesley, Frank London, Mike Alpert, Daniel Kahn and many many others..... FIlm by ElektroMoon, concert footage thanks to AJCTV
Polish folk music was collected in the 19th century by Oskar Kolberg, as part of a wave of Polish national revival. With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous of the state ensembles are Mazowsze and Śląsk, both of which still perform. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles. There were more authentic state-supported groups, such as Słowianki, but the Communist sanitized image of folk music made the whole field seem unhip to young audiences, and many traditions dwindled rapidly.
Polish dance music, especially the mazurka and polonaise, were popularized by Frederick Chopin, and they soon spread across Europe and elsewhere. These are triple time dances, while five-beat forms are more common in the northeast and duple-time dances like the krakowiak come from the south. The polonaise comes from the French word for Polish to identify its origin among the Polish aristocracy, who had adapted the dance from a slower walking dance called chodzony. The polonaise then re-entered the scene and became an integral part of Polish music.
Poland's five national dances
(Mazur, Polonez, Kujawiak, Krakowiak, Waltz), as well as modern dance, contemporary dance and ballet are all widely performed today throughout the Polonia community.