Der nayer sher 02:18

Liner Notes

Der nayer sher (The New Sher [i.e., new dance tune]) was written in 1940 expressly for recording, and according to one recollection, it was composed in an automobile between rehearsals or concerts (or perhaps broadcasts) for a session with Seymour Rechtzeit for the RCA Victor label. It was an immediate commercial success and was sung by many radio and stage singers, including Molly Picon, the Bagelman (Barry) Sisters, and the famous clarinetist Dave Tarras. Ellstein subsequently published it (1948) in two orchestral versions—with and without voice—and labeled them as a “special rumba,” with some rhythmic modification. It was also performed in an English version by Edmundo Ross, as The Wedding Samba.

The sher is one of the most popular celebratory dance forms among Jews of Eastern European background—a type of “scissor dance” (sher translates literally into scissors, or shears), possibly related to its to-and-fro movements. The movements also bear some resemblance to the American square dance. Among eastern European Jewish immigrants and their succeeding generations, the sher has generally been considered mandatory at traditional and even quasi-traditional weddings, and it was adopted into general ethnic folk dance circles in the 1930s and 1940s.

The wider reference of this song seems to go beyond just another tune for a sher, to a new dance and a new dance tune—perhaps a “modern sher.” (“Hey, klezmer, pick up your fiddle … and we’ll dance the new sher … for when we dance, life becomes so sweet … hope that by tomorrow we’ll all dance the new sher together.”)

By: Neil W. Levin



Lyrics by Abraham Ellstein

Hey you, klezmer, pick up your fiddle,
play your music,
and we’ll dance the new sher.

We’ll spin around in a karahod,
and our hearts will rejoice,
whenever the new sher is danced.

Higher, higher, Grandpa Elya leaps
straight up to the ceiling.
He wants to enjoy life fully.

And Grandma Sosye beams with joy.
Our enemies can go to hell,
for we’re going to dance the new sher.

Nu, see, just see how everyone is happy,
how they spin,
and how they tap their feet.

The heart is breaking
but still begs to dance,
for when we dance, life becomes so sweet.

Now we are all happy.
We will no longer be sad.
Because soon the bride will be seated,
and then we will dance the new sher.

What good will all the worrying do for you,
when your heart is heavy?
Better hope, brother, that by tomorrow
we will all dance the new sher together!

Lyrics by Abraham Ellstein

hey du klezmer, nem dem fidl,
shpil dos naye lidl,
tantsn vet men dem nayem sher.

in a karahod men dreyt zikh,
un dos harts derfreyt zikh,
nor ven men tantst dem nayem sher.

hekher, hekher, biz di stelye,
shpringt der zeyde, elye.
es vilt zikh lebn im vos mer.

un di bobe, sosye kvelt fun nakhes,
sonim af tselokhes,
tantsn vet men dem nayem sher.

nu, zet, nor zet vi yeder freyt zikh
un vi men dreyt zikh,
un men tupet mit di fis.

dos harts tsegeyt
nor tansn bet zikh
vayl ven men tantst vert, dan dos lebn azoy zis.

freylekh zayn atsind darfn mir ale;
troyerik zayn dos vet men shoyn nit mer
vayl bazetsn vet men bald di kale,
un tantsn vet men gor dem nayem sher.

vos toygn ale dayges, ale zorgn,
afn hartsn ven es iz dir shver?
beser, brider, hofn az biz morgn
veln ale in eynem tantsn dem nayem sher!



Composer: Abraham Ellstein

Length: 02:18
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: Elli Jaffe, Conductor;  Simon Spiro, Tenor;  Vienna Chamber Orchestra

Date Recorded: 10/01/2001
Venue: Baumgartner Casino (A), Vienna, Austria
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Hamza, Andreas
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Music Sales Corp.
Arranger/Orchestrator: Paul Henning
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation


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