From Jewish Folk Poetry (1956 Russian recording)
Joachim Braun, Shostakovich’s Jewish Songs
Shostakovich’s Op. 79 (music sheets)
Yiddish performance of “From Jewish Folk Poetry”
“Jewish folk music is unique in its emotional sound. Echoes of it can be heard in the works of many great composers around the world.” These words were said by Dmitri Shostakovich, an outstanding 20th century composer.
Although he himself was not Jewish, Shostakovich has become one of the most prominent Jewish
composers leaving a tremendous impact on the Yiddish musical culture. Specific intonations and
rhythms typical of the tunes of Yiddish folk songs clearly appear in many of the composer’s works of different genres. Especially relevant in this matter is the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry. For further details, refer to the research work of Joachim Braun, a Bar-Ilan University professor.
This song cycle was created in 1948, when the Stalinist terror against the Jewish intelligentsia
reached its apex. This cycle’s tragic nature, its inconceivable inner depth, became the expression of the composer’s protest against the horrifying events taking place.
Anyone can appreciate the ingenuity of this music by listening to the historical recordings made by its first performers, where the author himself plays the piano. Particularly valuable is the other
world-unique recording of this song cycle in Yiddish, which is also presented here.