Introduction; I. Noches, noches 05:02
II. Avrix mi galanica 03:45
III. El mi querido 02:05
IV. Camini por altas torres 02:17
V. La rosa enflorece 04:12
VI. Alta, alta, va la luna 08:14

Liner Notes

This piece was born as a commission from two of the composer’s colleagues. But it also reflects the interest in folklore that Adolphe acquired from his parents, both of whom were professional folk dancers (in addition to being teachers in academic disciplines). He grew up listening to many diverse genres of folk music in his parents’ collections, including Ladino folksongs—which made an indelible impression on him at an early age. The texts for this work are derived from well-known Ladino folk poetry. Adolphe, however, retained only the words and discarded the traditional melodies attached to these poems. The music is freely composed, without reliance upon preexisting musical folk material.

The composer has written the following note on this work:

In 1983, Lucy Shelton and David Jolley asked me to compose a work for soprano, French horn, and guitar. The instrumental combination was a bit daunting, for blending the soft-spoken guitar with the deeply resonant horn seemed an acoustic nightmare. Add a soprano, and where are you? However, I soon began to think of the instruments as three of the purest sounds available, and the easy pairing of voice and guitar could perhaps be lent an air of mystery and distance by the evocative tone of the horn. Having just had the premiere of my opera The False Messiah at New York’s 92nd Street Y, I was still thinking in terms of ecstatic Sephardi melismas—Shabtai Zvi, the 17th-century “False Messiah,” had ended up in Istanbul, after all. The idea that this trio would be well suited to Ladino-inspired music seemed right. The guitar was clearly the perfect instrument for Judeo-Spanish timbres and rhythms, the voice would tell the stories of love and loss, and the horn would provide the mournful echoes and amplify the passionate outcries. And so, with the help of Isabelle Ganz, who had performed and recorded much Ladino music, I selected verses from ancient poems that could have been written yesterday. The work was premiered on November 28, 1984, at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, by Lucy Shelton, David Jolley, and David Starobin. Soon after, it was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington by Shelton, Jolley, and guitarist Eliot Fisk, the performers in this recording, whom I thank for their passionate and intelligent virtuosity.

By: Neil W. Levin



Sung in Ladino


Nights, nights, beautiful nights,
Nights are for love,
Ah, nights are for love.

Turning around in my bed,
Like a fish in the sea.
Ah, like a fish in the sea.

My mother, I am leaving
For other countless worlds.
Ah, for other countless worlds.


Open the door, my gallant one,
For dawn is almost here.
I did not sleep all night
My handsome love
I did not sleep all night,
Thinking of you.

My father is studying,
He will hear us.
Put out the light
So he will go to sleep.
Put out the light
So that he will fall asleep.

My mother is sewing,
She will hear us.
Then hide her needle
And she will go to sleep.
Then hide her needle
So that she will fall asleep.

My brother is writing,
He will hear us.
Then hide his pen
And he will go to sleep.
Then hide his pen
So he will fall asleep.


My beloved drank wine
And lost his reason
There beneath the tree.
Taradari, taradam!
He pulled out a knife.


I walked among high towers,
I sailed through storms

Where no cock crowed
And where no one knew me.
Rain falls from the skies,
Tears from my eyes.


The rose flowers
In the month of May.
My soul is darkened,
Suffering from love.

The little nightingales sing,
Sighing of love,
And passion murders me,
So great is my pain.

Come quickly, my dove,
Come quickly to me,
Come quickly, my soul
For I am going to die.


High, high moves the moon
When it begins to shine.
Beautiful daughter without good fortune,
It would be better if you were never born.

The birds in the sky sing
Beneath the flowering trees,
There sit
Those who suffer from love

My round, high mountains,
Take me to my love.
Into his arms I will fall
And then die.

Deep seas, clouded skies
Even the rose faded away.
Death comes from Heaven,
I wish we never had to separate.

Sung in Ladino


Noches, noches, buenas noches,
Noches son d’enamorlar,
Ay, noches son d’enamorlar.

Dando bueltas por la cama,
Como’l pexe en el mar.
Ay, como’l pexe en el mar.

Ir me vo yo la mi madre
Por los mundos cuantos son.
Ay, por los mundos cuantos son


Avrix mi galanica
Que ya va ‘manecer.
La noche yo no durmo
Mi lindo amor
La noche yo no durmo
Pensando en vos.

Mi padre ‘sta meldando
Mos oyerá
Amatalde la luzezica
Si se dormirá
Amatalde la luzezicá
Si s’echará.

Mi madre ‘sta cuziendo
Mos oyerá.
Pedrelde la algujica
Si se dormirá
Pedrelde la algujica
Si s’echará.

Mi hermano ‘sta ‘scriviendo
Mos oyerá.
Pedrelde la pendolica
Si se dormirá.
Pedrelde la pendolica
Si s’echará.


El mi querido bevió vino
El tino ya lo pedrió
Allí debaxo l’arvolera
Taradarí taradám!
Cuchillo me travó.


Caminí por altas torres
Naveguí por las fortunas

Onde gallo no cantava
Ni menos me conocían
Luvias caen de los cielos
Lágrimas de los mis ojos.


La rosa enflorece
En el mez de May,
Mi alma s’escurece,
Sufriendo del amor.

Los bilbilicos cantan,
Sospiran del amor,
Y la pasión me mata,
Muchigua mi dolor.

Más presto ven Palomba,
Más presto ven a mí,
Más presto tú mi alma,
Que yo me vo morir.


Alta, alta va la luna
Cuando ‘mpeca amanecer
Hija ‘rmoza sin ventura
Nunca llegue a nacer

Los paxaricos de los cielos cantan
Debaxo’l arvole de flor
Allí se asentan
Los que sufren del amor

Ma rendondas moñtanas altas
Llevame ande’l mi amor
En sus braços caeré
Despues muereré

Mars hondas, nuvera de los cielos
Hasta la roza destiñera
Morir es de los cielos
Espartición no huviera



Composer: Bruce Adolphe

Length: 25:37
Genre: Chamber

Performers: Eliot Fisk, Guitar;  David Jolley, Horn;  Lucy Shelton, Soprano

Date Recorded: 01/01/2001
Venue: Lefrak Concert Hall/Colden Center for the Arts (B), Flushing, New York
Engineer: Tom Lazarus (recording), Tim Martyn (editing)
Assistant Engineer: Nunes, Michelle
Assistant Engineer: Frost, David
Project Manager: Lee, Richard

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Keiser Classicals
Texts from Chants Judéo-Espagnols, Isaac Levy, ed., 4 vols. (1959–73)
Translations from Ladino by Raquel Levy, Isabelle Ganz, and Joseph Elias
Edited by Edwin Seroussi


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