I. Es brent (It's Burning) 03:43
II. Mayn mame hot gevolt zayn af mayn khasene 06:48
III. Treblinka 04:04
IV. Rivkele, di shabesdike 03:26
V. Shtil di nakht 04:57
VI. Ani ma'amin 05:29

Liner Notes

Written in memory of the millions of Holocaust victims, Out of the Whirlwind was commissioned by Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Allied liberation of the German concentration camps in Europe. The project was initiated by Simeon Loring, who conducted the premiere in 1984 in anticipation of the actual commemorative year (1985). The six-movement work is scored for mezzo-soprano, tenor, large wind ensemble (wind orchestra), piano, harp, and bass. It is based on Yiddish songs by Holocaust victims—some who survived the camps and German-built ghettos, and others who were murdered.

1. Es brent [Undzer shtetl brent]
(It [our town] Is Burning)

This song was adopted after the war as a “Holocaust” expression, even though it was written before the German invasion of Poland—before anyone even anticipated the turn of events that became the Holocaust. Yet it has become one of the most frequently sung songs at Holocaust commemorations and memorial services. It was written by Mordkhe [Mordecai] Gebirtig (1877–1942), one of the last popular European Yiddish folk poets, whose simple but poignant folklike songs were among the best known not only in eastern Europe, but throughout Yiddish cultural circles worldwide. Gebirtig wrote this song following a pogrom in the Polish town of Przytyk in 1938, where the arsonists and murderers were local Poles, not Germans. Following the German occupation of Poland, Gebirtig continued to compose poetry and songs in the Kraków ghetto, until he was shot by Germans in 1942. The sentiments and the words were subsequently to prove prescient, almost prophetic of the Holocaust and the world’s indifference: “Our town is burning, and you just stand with your arms folded.” Adolphe used both the poem and the melody only as raw material for this movement.

2. Mayn mame hot gevolt zayn af mayn khasene
(My Mother Longed to Be at My Wedding)

The original song is by Emil Gorovets (1926–2001), a Soviet Yiddish singer and songwriter who emigrated to the United States after the war. In this song, the bride’s mother has been murdered by the Germans and thrown, along with many other victims, into a ditch, or mass grave. The bride, during her wedding, hallucinates that her mother is there with her, singing in celebration, and she keeps turning to the musicians in the band, exhorting them, “Play, [klezmorim] musicians,” as if asking them to cause her, for the moment, to forget the horrible truth. In this movement the composer used the complete text, but only parts of the original melody. “It felt a little constraining,” he remarked, “but I took the parts that haunted me.”

3. Treblinka

The composer of this melody and the poet are both unknown, but the song was sung in the ghetto of Biala Podlaska. Treblinka was one of the most notorious death camps to which Jews were being transported from their trapped position in the ghettos, which had been constructed by the Germans as holding depots. In the song, the Jews are being made aware of their destination and fate. Only the original words are used in this movement.

4. Rivkele, di shabesdike
(Rebecca, the Sabbath One)

Only the melody of this song is utilized for this instrumental movement, almost as an interlude. The words, whose melody is anonymous, are by Peysakh Kaplan (1870–1943)—a writer, composer, music critic, and editor of the Yiddish daily Dos naye lebn (The New Life), in prewar Bialystok. Kaplan was murdered in the Bialystok ghetto in 1943. The song concerns a horrifying incident in the Bialystok ghetto on the Sabbath of July 12, 1942, when 5,000 Jewish men were dragged from the synagogues and shot by the Germans. Women whose husbands had been murdered that day became known as “the Sabbath ones”—or, in effect, “the Sabbath widows.”

5. Shtil di nakht
(Still the Night)

The composer of this melody is unknown. The poem is by Hirsh Glik (1922–44), a resistance fighter who was a member of Yungvald, a literary group of young poets, before the war. He is probably best remembered for another of his Yiddish songs (words only), Zog nit keyn mol, which became the hymn of the United Partisan Organization in 1943 and then spread to nearly all the ghettos and camps in eastern Europe, and which is now the de facto official hymn of Holocaust commemorations everywhere. Glik wrote Shtil di nakht after a successful raid, during which a young woman, who had just barely learned how to hold a gun, successfully blew up a German ammunition-bearing convoy with a single shot. Glik was later imprisoned in a concentration camp in Estonia, where he was shot by the Germans in 1944. According to Adolphe, this movement is essentially both an arrangement and a “recomposition” of the song.

6. Ani ma’amin
(I Believe)

These words are taken from the twelfth of Moses Maimonides’ (1135–1204) “Thirteen Articles of Faith” and have been set to different tunes at various times by various composers, This particular version has become especially associated with the Holocaust, since it was frequently sung by Jews in ghettos and camps as they were marched to their deaths. The piece concludes with a solo English horn playing a variant of the tune while, in the composer’s own words, “the entire orchestra tries to crush it.”



Sung in Yiddish

Poem: Mordecai Gebirtig

It is burning! Brothers, it’s burning!
Our poor shtetl is burning pitifully!
Angry winds with rage
Tear, shatter, and disperse,
Yet even more powerful are the wild flames.
Everything around is already burning!

Tongues of fire have already
Devoured all of our shtetl—
And the wild winds howl,
Our shtetl is burning!

And you just stand there observing
With your arms folded,
And you just stand there looking on—
Our shtetl is burning!


My mother longed to be at my wedding.
Oh, days and nights she pondered it.
Then Hitler, may the worms down under devour him,
Buried her alive, without even a shot, in a ravine.

My mother longed to be there at my wedding.
Oh, vengeance, Mother, I took on your behalf.
Musicians, play! Musicians, play more slowly!
My mother is singing; my mother is with me.

My mother longed to be at my wedding.
Why then, foolish one, are you swallowing a tear?
They say that one must cry at a wedding—
Then cry now so you won’t cry again.

My mother longed to be there at my wedding.
With pride I see her coming to me—
Musicians, play! Musicians, play more slowly!
My mother is joining the dancers in a sher.


Jews, quickly get out!

Many armed men, Ukrainians, and police;
To murder the Jews: that is their goal.
They slaughter and maim; how frightening and scary.
The Jews are being led off to the train.

No pen can describe it.
Wagons are stuffed.
They are leading the Jews to be martyred for the sake of God’s holy Name.
To Treblinka, to Treblinka!

Our brothers from the other side of the ocean
Cannot feel our bitter pain;
They can’t know how bitter our misery,
When each hour, each minute death awaits us.

Streams of tears will run
When one day they will find
The largest grave in the world—
The resting place of many millions of Jews,
In Treblinka! In Treblinka!

Poem: Peysakh Kaplan

Rivkele the Sabbath Widow
Toils in a factory,
Twists strand into strand,
Weaves a braided coil.
Oh, the gloomy ghetto
Is lasting too long,
And her heart is full of anguish,
And filled with sorrow.

Her devoted Hershele
Is away, gone
Since that fateful Sabbath,
Since that time, that hour.
So Rivkele is mournful,
Grieving day and night,
And now by the wheel of the machine
She sits and thinks:

Where is he, my beloved,
Is he still alive somewhere?
Is he in a concentration camp,
Slaving without rest?
Oh, how dark it must be there for him.
My lot here is bitter—
Since that fateful Sabbath,
Since that day, that hour.

Poem: Hirsh Glik

The still night was full of starlight,
And the frost—was burning;
Do you remember how I taught you
To hold a revolver in your hand?

A girl, a sheepskin and a beret,
And in her hands she clutches a gun.
A girl with a face as smooth as velvet
Keeps an eye out for the enemy’s caravan.

Aimed, shot, and right on target
Did the small pistol strike.
With one bullet she halted
A truck stacked with ammunition.

At dawn she crawled out of the woods,
With snowy garlands on her hair,
Encouraged by her little victory
For our new, free generation.

Sung in Hebrew
Based on Maimonides' thirteen articles of faith

Ani ma’amin, ani ma’amin,
I believe, I believe,
With complete faith I believe
In the coming of the messiah,
And although he may be delayed,
Still I believe,
Ani ma’amin.



Composer: Bruce Adolphe

Length: 28:27
Genre: Symphonic

Performers: John Aler, Tenor;  Phyllis Pancella, Mezzo-soprano;  University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Wind SymphonyRodney Winther, Conductor

Date Recorded: 01/01/2000
Venue: Werner Recital Hall/College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, Ohio
Engineer: Rapley, Robert
Assistant Engineer: Stedman, Marc
Assistant Engineer: Frost, David
Project Manager: Lee, Richard

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Norruth Music Inc. (Dist: MMB Music)
Editing Engineer: Marc Stedman

Translation: Eliyahu Mishulovin


Don't miss our latest releases, podcasts, announcements and giveaways throughout the year! Stay up to date with our newsletter.

{{msToTime(currentPosition)}} / {{msToTime(duration)}}