Der badkhn 04:34

Liner Notes

Itzik Manger’s (1901–1969) poem about a traditional eastern European wedding entertainer, Der badkhn, comes to life in Hanoch Kon’s song of the same title. Even in the ebullient spirit of the wedding day, the badkhn’s words belie his outward role as a jester; he interprets the emotional sounds of the musicians as reminders of the evanescent nature of life: “Life is a shadow, and so is fortune.” It is a joyous day, yet “the fiddle trembles and the flute sobs.” The bride is beautiful, but “beauty wanes,” he warns. The badkhn, in his self-acknowledged wittiness as an entertainer, also reminds himself that his life, too, will pass as a shadow. Manger’s badkhn here is like the quintessential “wise fool” in literature, and Kon’s setting captures the duality of simḥa (happy occasion) and sober truth.

By: Neil W. Levin



Poem: Itzik Manger
Sung in Yiddish

Bridegroom and bride, family and friends,
Listen to what the badkhn has to say today:

Today on the day of happiness and joy,
The fiddle trembles and the flute sobs.

Here sits the bride, beautiful as the day,
But what does the fiddle say? Speak, fiddle, speak!

Beauty is nice, but beauty wanes,
So says the flddle, and what says the flute?

Life is a shadow and so is fortune;
A shadow passes and does not retum.
So says the badkhn with a tearful gaze.

Here sits the bridegroom in velvet and silk,
And the bride, radiant in her wedding dress;
Family, guest, honored gentleman–
But above them all, the flute sobs.

Ah, consider the badkhn, who stands before you
Delivering his clever and endearing lines.
He talks and talks as the flute accompanies him.
Alas, oy vey, he too will pass.

Poem: Itzik Manger

khosn un kale, mekhutonim un fraynt,
hert vos es darshnl der badkhn haynt:

haynt in dem log fun glik un fun freyd,
tsitert der fidl un s'khlipel di ffeyt.

ot zilsl do di kale, sheyn vi der tog,
nor vos zogt der fidl? zog fidele, zog!

di sheynkayt iz sheyn, nor sheynkayt fargeyt,
azoy zogl der fidl, un vos zogl di fleyt?

a shotn dos lebn, a sholn dos glik,
a shotn fargeyt un es kumt nit Isurik.
azoy redt der badkhn un di Irer in zayn blik.

ot zitst do der khasn, in samel un zayd,
un di kale shaynl in ir khupe kleyd.
mekhulonim un gesl, bikhvoyde layt,
nor iber zey alem, es khlipel di fleyt.

batrakht nor dem badkhn, vos do far aykh shteyt
un redt tsu aykh kluge un tayere reyd
er redt un er redl un s'bagleyt im di ffeyt,
oy vey, oy vey, oykh der badkhn fargeyt.



Composer: Henoch Kon

Length: 04:34
Genre: Art Song

Performers: Raphael Frieder, Baritone;  John Musto, Piano

Date Recorded: 12/01/2001
Venue: Lefrak Concert Hall/Colden Center for the Arts (D), Flushing, New York
Engineer: Lazarus, Tom
Assistant Engineer: Frost, David
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Translation: Eliyahu Mishulovin


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