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A Valts

Analysis and contextual notes by D. Zisl Slepovitch.
All songs transcribed, scored, arranged, and produced by Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch.


Jean B. (HVT-701) was born in Łódź, Poland in 1919, one of five children. She recalls her Zionism; teacher training in Israel; visiting home in summer 1939; German invasion; ghettoization in 1940; helping to create ghetto schools; producing music and dance performances (she sings a song); her parents’ death from starvation; arrival of Austrian Jews; round-ups and deportations; hiding with her brother and sister during the final liquidation; her brother’s capture; going to the trains with her sister, seeking her brother; transport to Auschwitz; losing her will to live after not finding her brother; her sister sustaining her; selection with her sister and friends for a work camp; forced labor in German camps; their return to Łódź after the war; reunion with her other sister; emigration to the United States rather than Israel in order to remain with her sisters; marriage; and the births of two daughters. Mrs. B. discusses her daughters’ interest in her experience and believing that the Jewish leader of the ghetto was a hero, in spite of her low opinion of him during the war.

A Valts (The Waltz)

Music: D. Zisl Slepovitch; lyrics: A. Lutzky

Jean B. (HVT-701) was born in Lódź, Poland, in 1919. Having been a member of a youth Zionist organization, Jean went to study in Palestine where she received her degree in 1939. She went to visit her parents in the summer break and got stuck in Poland when the war broke out. She survived the four years (1940–44) in the Lodz ghetto, one of the largest in Poland. In the ghetto, Jean attended many shows (rewie) and choreographed many dances with the children, as she was dancing herself. Jean remembers the name of Szamaj Rozenblum, a teacher who was singing to her dance what turned out to be A. Lutzky’s poem, A Valts (The Waltz). Jean only remembered select stanzas and not the music; therefore I set the poem to original music.

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Porlekh dreyen zikh – porlekh dreyen zikh –
Veystu vi azoy, veystu vi azoy?
Beymer in vald dreyen zikh azoy –
Ven du forst farbay, in a ban farbay

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az di fidl shpilt—shpreyt zi vegn oys—
Veystu vosere?—Veystu vosere?
Vaykhe meydl hent—unter dayne fis
Kroyzlen zikh aruf—vi a roy’kh aruf.

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az di mandolin—tsimblt ot azoy—
Veystu vos zi tut?—Veystu vos zi tut?
Dayne yunge teg—di fargangenen
Breklt zi fanand, —breklt zi fanand.

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az dos fleytl fayft,—az dos fleytl fayft,—
Veystu vos du herst?—Veystu vos du herst?
Toyte in der erd—veynen dos azoy,
Vos-zhe veynen zey?—Vos-zhe veynen zey?

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az di poyk baroysht,—az di poyk baroysht,
Veystu vos dos iz?—Veystu vos dos iz?
Dos iz dokh der roysh—ot der velt-geroysh—
Vos fartoybt in dir—pakhed farn toyt.

Eyns, tsvey, dray, Eyns, tsvey, dray,
Az dos lebn iz—a gedrey aza.—
Veynt di vilontshel: eyns, tsvey, dray.
Veln fun der velt—ale zikh tsegeyn.
Tut mir azoy vey, tut mir azoy vey….

One, two, three, one, two, three
Couples spinning round—couples spinning round—
Do you know how?—Do you know how?
Trees in the woods are spinning round,
When you ride by—in a passing train.

One, two, three, one, two, three
When the fiddle plays—she spreads out the trails.
Do you know which ones? – Do you know which ones?—
A girl’s soft hands—under your feet—
spins you up in the air like rising smoke.

One, two, three, one, two, three.
When the mandolin—is ringing just like that—
Do you know what she does?—Do you know what she does? —
Your young days, those that are left behind—
She crumbles them one over the other—she crumbles them…

One, two, three, one, two, three.
When the little flute fifes—When the little flute fifes—
Do you know what you hear?—Do you know what you hear?—
The dead in the ground—they cry that way—
Why are they crying? —Why are they crying?

One, two, three, one, two, three.
When the drum sounds,—When the drum sounds,—
Do you know what it is?—Do you know what it is?—
That’s just the noise—the noise of the world—
That deafens in you—the fear of death.

One, two, three, one, two, three,
As the life is—such a spin.—
The cello is crying, “One—two—three.”
Everyone will leave this world.—
It pains me so, it pains me so!