I heard the
most extraordinary sound: a fusion of Arab north Africa and Jewish eastern
Europe. At 84, Fuld's voice was still fresh and the crowd was going crazy,
whooping as he announces that he's going to sing My Yiddishe Momma. Linda Grand on Thursday July 26, 2007 in The Guardian
So brilliantly noir is the orchestral prelude to ‘Fraitag oif der Nacht’
that it’s as much Fritz Lang horror film soundtrack as Sabbath party song,
while the languorously menacing oboe of ‘My Yiddishe Mama’ brings to mind
Salomé and the head of John the Baptist as much as the dear little
grey-haired chicken-soup-maker of the title. Fuld died shortly after making this record, which he apparently considered
his crowning achievement.
One can understand why. Philip Sweeney in Songlines - juni 2006
AS I HEARD IT
In my opinion this is a most enjoyable and historic CD. Highly recommended. Morton Gold - As I Heard It - NAT 27, 2005/08/23
Leo Fuld was among the world's royalty of popular Yiddish songs and the last great performer of this genre. His career started well before the 2nd World War and ended with his death in 1997. Prior to WWII, Fuld was one the the most popular recording and concert artists in Europe and America. Possessing an instantaneously recognizable voice, Fuld recorded throughout Europe and the Americana's in many languages, including Yiddish, English, German, French, Ifrite and Dutch. His career after the war once again made his name popular throughout the world, and on the most prestigious night club and concert stages. At 83 he recorded "The Legend", probably his best record ever, called the ''Sgt. Pepper of Yiddish Music'' (Abe Goldstein)
Leo Fuld (Rotterdam, 1912) is the third of ten children of a poor Jewish family. Its father, Louis Fuld is a merchant in occasional goods. Fuld talent for singing showed already on young age during services in the synagogue. Fuld get a study grant for the Seminarium. His parents expect that the young Leo will develop into `chazzan', the chorister in the synagogue. On its sixteenth Fuld lead already services in `sjoels' in the province. Moreover he sings also secular work in bars. He makes his debut in a Rotterdam bar and sings there sixty songs for one dollar. Podium success does decide him do an audition at VARA-radio. He is adopted directly and makes one's debut beside Louis Davids. Leaves in 1932, to United Kingdom to do audition at BBC. He becomes the first Dutch singer ever behind BBC-microfoon.
He was heard by the famous Jack Hylton, who signed the 19 year old Fuld to a three year contract with his celebrated band show, which resulted in engagements in every important theatre in the British Isles and the Continent,
In 1936 he was signed by Clifford C. Fischer for the French Casino in New York and later the Paramount Theatre on Broadway.
Having become an International favorite, Fuld started to adapt Yiddish and Hebrew songs to include in his repertoire. At the French Casino his biggest song was "Rosinkes Mit Mandeln'', and the great Al Jolson came back every night at "five to ten" just to catch his performance. In 1938 his temporary visa ran out and he had to return to Europe where he applied for an immigration visa. He caught the last boat back before the Nazis invaded the Lowlands and immediately offered his services to the Free Netherlands Government in Exile, Together with the late Hendrik Willem Van Loon, Fuld started the short wave broadcasts to Holland and the Dutch East Indies, Rumors reached this country of what was happening to the Jewish population of Holland and almost the complete Fuld family is assassinated by the nazi. As a result, he could not face an audience and stopped singing completely.
As he always had a talent for writing, he soon became one of the most sought after material writers on Broadway, writing for such comedians as Milton Berle, the Ritz Brothers, Jackie Miles, Jackie Gleason, Jan Murray, and Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, followed by the "Kraft Music Hall" program. He also produced, directed and wrote a comedy show called "Fun For Your Money" with which he toured the country.
In 1948 he returned to Holland as an American citizen to search for news about his family. Upon his arrival, in gratitude for his wartime broadcasts, thousands of people greeted him and he was offered a contract to sing at the largest theatre in Amsterdam. Not having sung for over five years he was petrified with fear, but was such a success that he was held over for six weeks, having regained his confidence, he accepted an engagement at the London Casino where he was a tremendous hit.
Offers followed from all over the world, and while at the Sa Majeste in Paris with his revue, he visited a little Yiddish night club where he heard a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto sing a song which touched him deeply - "Wo Ahin Soll Ich Geh'n?". Fuld was so impressed that he asked the composer for a copy and said "I'll make this a world hit!", He kept his promise, Upon returning to England he wrote English lyrics and recorded it for Decca under the title "Where can I Go?". It was also released in America, and as the saying goes, it took him twenty years to become a star over-night, He sang it on television in the Milton Berle show, the Perry Como Show and in the Frank Sinatra Show, and it was also recorded by some of America's biggest record stars such as Ray Charles and Steve Lawrence. Among his greatest fans were such stars as Billy Holliday, Al Jolson and Edith Piaf.
Since 1949, Leo Fuld has made five world tours and appeared in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, North Africa, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, shared the stage for 10 weeks with Edith Piaf at the Paris' ABC Theatre and was engaged by the Emperor Haile Selaissi to sing at the wedding of his daughter at the Imperial Palace in Adis Abeba.
In 1956 he sets up his own nightclub in New York before relocating to Las Vegas.
On his 80th birthday the singer returns to the Netherlands. With producer Mohamed el-Fers and arranger Kees Post he recorded at the age of 84 he recorded what is considered the Sgt. Pepper of Yiddish Music: The Legend. History is understood, more fully comprehended, through the pearls of Yiddish music as sung by the truly great interpreter of the genre.
Never before Yiddish music sounded so oriental as on The Legend, On the cd Fuld his best known songs, but they are provide with striking Oriental arrangements.
At 84 Fuld married for the third time in his life and dies within a year in his place of residence Amsterdam.
French singer Jacqueline Taieb: "The Legend was so refreshing after decades of being earnest and very serious about the almost lost heritage of Yiddish music."
First released in 1997. Re-released in 2008 by HiPPO records
Produced and arranged by Mohamed el-Fers and Kees Post.
Supervision: Rob Bierings.
Engineered by Dennis Mulder.
Vocal postrecorings by Andrew Fernihough
Leo Fuld's vocal was digital recorded at Bill & Ted's Excellent Recordingstudio
Amsterdam 9th, 16th, 31th January and 6th and 21th February 1997.
Orchestral arrangements digital recorded in Hippo's recordingstudio Accra
and Amsterdam between 27th October 1996 and 31th July 1997.
Mixed by Dennis Mulder at Bill & Ted's 1th -3th August 1997.
Mastered at Mediatrack Amsterdam by Hans Strikkers.
Coverdesign: Jasper Hazevoet and Mohamed el-Fers
Thanks to Henny Ree; Rogier 'DataPoint' Pointl; Lin Sargent; Murat Kirbacoglu;
Arris Oliemans and Ed Zwaab.
All the songs from The Legend
MY YIDDISHE MAMA (EXTRA ORIENTAL) (Jack Yellen/Ben Pollack)
Fuld's trade-mark as it sounded in the fifties during his concerts in
the Auberge des Pyramides in Cairo. It was during this time the legendary
Egyptian singer Oum Kalsoum came to see Fuld. Leo surprised her by singing
in Arabic, but she insisted to hear `Yiddishe Mama'. The next day Fuld
rehearsed with the orchestra and when Oum Kalsoum came again he surprised
her with a `Mama' in `extra oriental style'.
The song was written in 1925 by the Poland born Jack Yellen, together
with drummer, vocalist, bandleader Ben Pollack. Yellen also co-wrote
`Ain't She Sweet' and `Happy Day's Are Here Again'. Sophie Tucker made
`Mama' a top 5 USA hit in 1928, English on one side and Yiddish on the
B-side. Fuld combined both in one track and made it a hit in the rest
of the world.
OIF'N WEG STEHT A BOIM (Itsik Manger)
`By the wayside stands a tree bent against the storm. All the birds
have left it alone. I will become a bird and sit in the tree to comfort
it during the winter with my songs. 'No, Leo', mother weeps, 'you will
freeze to death in that tree. But if you must, put on your scarf and
your galoshes, wear your fur hat and warm underwear.' I lift up my wings
but cannot fly. All those clothes mamma puts on her weak nestling are
too heavy. Sadly I gaze into my mothers eyes. Her love didn't let me
become a bird.'
Many of the songs by the well-known Yiddish poet Itsik Manger (1901-1969)
are based on folk songs. That was also the case with `Oif'n weg steht
a boim'. A Yiddish song does not have to sound static after it is fixed
as `a standard'. Listen and see an animated video of Leo's dynamic version of `a boim' as recorded in 1997.
MEIN SHTETELE BELZ (Jacob Jacobs/Alexander Olshanetsky)
Beltz is a moving evocation of a happy childhood spent in a shtetl:`Tell
me quick, old man, now I want to know everything. How's that little
house that once sparkled? Does the little tree I planted still bloom?
' But 'That little house is old, overgrown with grass, the old roof
crumbles, windows are without glass, the attic is crooked, the walls
bent. You'd never recognize it.'
`Belz, my little town Belz, my little home where I spend my childhood
years. In that poor little house where I laughed with all the children.
Every Sabbath I'd run to read by the river. Belz, where I had so many
One of the most popular Yiddish songs depict childhood and expressed
his longing for this Eastern European town. The Moldavian town Belz
in Bessarabia is now called Beltsi (or Balti in Moldovan/Romanian),
and is located in Bessarabia, presently the Moldova Republic in the
former USSR, just about 60 km north of the Roumanian city of Yaas (now
Iasi), as Bessarabia also known from a Fuld-song. In Beltz `To read
by the river' must be the tributary of the Dnestr-river, who rises in
Carpathians and flows 1400 km later into the Black Sea.
GRIENEN DAG (Moishe Oysher/Zalman Rozental)
`Near my town there's a little house with a green roof and many trees
around. Father, mother, my sister Resele and I, all four of us live
there together. Father works hard all his life and when he returns home,
he sometimes brings presents: a horse that neighs named Mitsich, a dog
that barks named Tsutsik. He brings a snow-white goose, and a hen that
clucks, clucks until she lays an egg. Mother puts the hen over the eggs
and, oh, what a `moifes', miracle! We have pretty chicks! And father
brings a goat that shakes his beard, and when you put that goat before
the wagon, by itself it becomes a horse! And my father, mother, Resele
and I, since a long time we live happy in that little house with the
Zalman Rozental (1892-1959) wrote the words of this song, published
in 1925 as `Bay dem stetl'. Fuld recorded it on a different melody written
by the famous Cantor Moishe Oysher (1906-1958) as `Grienen Dag'.
MOISHELE, MEIN FREIND (Mordechai Gebirtig) in RealPlayer or
`How are you, Moishele? You were my chabber (friend) many years ago.
Remember our pranks in kheyder (religious school), and the Rebe with
his stick? And how are all our other friends from these days? How often
I think of them: Samele, Josele, Awremele... your sister Rochele, who
was the love of Berele and hated me without reason and left me with
a never healed wound in my soul. I dreamed of us as children, that I
was again amidst you. But we're old Jews now...'
A few months before Fuld recorded his `Moishele' he performed on Dutch
National television, accompanied by the North African rockgroup Railand.
Fuld relived the sad but wonderful years of his youth. It was a sensation
and he had to encore five times!
FRAITAG OIF DER NACHT (Trad. arr. C. Post)
`In my neigbourhood people lived in poverty, but tried to make some
savings for the Sabbath-evening. For a little piece of meat, some wine,
a merry wife and every Jew felt like a King. On Friday night singing
and laughter replaced the sorrow of the day for a moment'.
After Fuld sang `Fraitag' during a party with Albert Einstein, the genius
commented: `These Yiddish folksongs, why they are the most sincere,
the most heartfelt I have heard anywhere? They are the truest expression
of the soul of a people!'
DOS PINTELE YID (Arnold Perlmitter/Herman Wohl/Louis Gilrod)
`Little Jew, your crown is the spark of Jewishness. You suffered greatly
for this, your limbs tormented, your brothers tortured, everyone bathed
in your blood. Countless libels were leveled against you, still that
spark remains strong...'
Probably world's most famous bar-mitzvah song. The public reading of
the Torah (first five books of the Bible) is a symbol of maturity, the
first demonstration of being a full member of the community. `Dos Pintele
Yid' was the titlesong of a play by Boris Thomasheftsky in 1909. Words
by Louis Gilrod, music by Arnold Perlmutter and Herman Wohl.
SHEIN WIE DIE LEWONE (Joseph Rumshinsky/Chaim Tauber)
`Pretty as the moon, bright as the stars, you are a heaven-sent gift
`Sure Fuld can deliver a song and for sure he's the man who kept the
tradition and shaped Yiddish music into what it is today', said Chaim
Tauber (1901-1972) when he first heard Leo sing his `Schein Wie Die
Lewone'. The composer of this beautiful song is Joseph Rumshinsky (1881-1956).
GESSELACH (Max Kletter)
`Old houses and fences of broken boards. No money to buy anything but
bread. But when the musician come to play, we're happy to throw a few
`grosschen' out of the window.
That narrow `gesselach', among family and friends, in better and worse.
The crooked and narrow streets, the working field of the fiddler.'
Childhood remembered in this song written by Leo's friend Max Kletter:
`Max wrote it in 1942. When I returned from the USA to that little street
of my European childhood, the houses were bombed by the Germans, and
gone were my father, mother, brother...
Just one sister survived.'
AZ DER REBBE TANTST (Trad. arr. C. Post)
`When the Rabbi dances, all the Hassidim dance. When the Rabbi sings,
all the Hassidim sing. When the Rabbi laughs, all the Hassidim laugh
and when the Rabbi sleeps, all the Hassidim sleep.'
To the Hassidim, singing and dancing was like praying. Like the dervish'mystics
they sought to achieve a state of ecstasy. The folksong `Az Der Rebbe
Tantst' passed on through oral transmission when the young Fuld served
as a sjammes in a Polish Synagogue. A variant of this song was published
by Joel Engel in a children's game song in 1916.
WO AHIN SOLL ICH GEH'N (S. Korntayer/Oscar Strock/Leo Fuld)
When Edith Piaf was introduced to Leo Fuld, she approached him singing
`Wo Ahin Soll Ich Geh'n'. For fourteen weeks Piaf and Fuld shared the
stage of the Paris ABC-theatre. Fuld wrote the English text of `Wo Ahin
Soll Ich Geh'n' in ten minutes. He made it a million-seller and later
it was recorded by a few dozen others: Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Dean
Martin, Nat King Cole, Miriam Makeba...
And then, in 1997, he himself recorded this refreshing version, as if
it was 1948 and Leo was singing in the Frank Sinatra'Show.
DER SIDEREL (YIDDELE BRIEDEREL) (Joseph Kammen/Louis Gilrod)
`Oppressed and persecuted, the Sider (prayerbook) is the Jew's companion
and integral part of his life. Comforting as disasters are ruining lives
This song was a big hit in the Yewish play `Der Siderel' in the thirties.
It was for years on the Fuld-repertoire until the Second World War started.
He never sung it again after the war until he made this beautiful recording
A KLESMER YINGEL (OI MAMME! BIN ICH FARLIEBT) (Abe Ellstein)
`So, when a girl of good family falls in love with a travelling musician?
Hold me, Mamma, when I look in his dark eyes while he's playing one
of his iree songs I can't control myself.'
Abraham Ellstein (1907-1963) wrote also the music for `Yidl mit'n fidl',
titlesong from the Yiddish film with the same name starring Molly Picon.
`Oi Mamme! Bin Ich Farliebt' was one of Fulds hits in the late thirties.
RESELE (Mordechai Gebirtig) in RealPlayer or
`In a quiet street, in the attic of a little house lives my dear Rezele.
Every evening I pass under her window, whistle and call her to come,
come, come. A window opens, the old house awakens and Rezele's voice
is heard: 'Wait a little, I shall soon be ready. Walk around in the
street a while.' Cheerfully I walk, singing and cracking nuts, listening
to the pattern of her feet skipping down the steps. I embrace and kiss
her, come, come come. 'I beg you, Davidl, not to whistle anymore. Mother
is upset, for it is not polite for Jewish boys to whistle. Just give
me a signal in Yiddish when you call'. I won't whistle anymore. I will
even become pious because of you. I will be as observant as your mother
and go to the synagogue every Sabbath. 'I believe you, my dearest, and
for that I shall knit you a bag for your `tefillin' with a Star of David.
And if people admire it, tell them your Rezele made it for you.' I thank
you for your gift. I love you dearly, Rezele. I love your mother, love
the street, the little old house. I love the stones near your house
since you walk on them. But listen, your mother is already calling you
to come home. So cheerfully I go my way, singing and cracking nuts,
listening to the pattern of her feet on the steps. Again the house and
street fall silent. Come to me in my dreams, Rezel, come...'
Like `Moishele' this song is by Mordechai Gebirtig (1877-1942), one
of the greatest and last Yiddish folk poets, killed by the nazi's. Fuld
always loved his simple folklike songs, popular in Eastern Europe and
throughout the Jewish world.
OIF'N PRIPETSHIK (Mark Warshawsky, arr. C. Post) `Remember children, what you're learning here. Say and repeat it
over again: the letter `kometz Alef' is pronounced: O. When you grow
older you'll understand that this alphabet contains the tears and weeping
of our people.'
Leo Fuld was admitted to kheyder from the age of four. In this dimly
lit but well-heated schoolroom the seeds of learning were planted. The
Rabbi teaches the children the first letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The song is written by Mark Warshawsky, a discovery of Sholom Aleichem.
In 1953 Fuld gave a concert in the local foundouq of el-Ghriba during
the Lag B'Omer Festival. He sung to celebrate that 2500 years ago a
cedarwood door from the Temple was brought from Jerusalem to Tunisia.
This is a reconstruction of that hot Tunisian night, when Fuld was accompanied
by the kapelle of Yacub B'chiri.
LEO FULD with RAILAND
Final of VARA television Kopspijkers with Jack Spijkerman.
IK ZING DE WERELD ROND
Netherlands 1994 Screenwriter: Leo Fuld, Director: Mohamed el-Fers.
Running time: 60 min. S-VHS in Dutch version. Broadcasted by MokumTV
on the Amsterdam Salto Network. Broadcasttape with original material
was lost at Salto, there is a VHS-copy in the mediatheek Jewish Historical
A YIDDISH X-MAS IN AMSTERDAM
Netherlands 1995 With Leo Fuld and Daphne Meijer. Director: Mohamed
el-Fers. Running time: 60 min. S-VHS in Dutch version. Broadcasted by
Salto Omroepstichting Amsterdam. In the Mediatheek Jewish Historical
THE INTERNATIONAL SINGING STAR LEO FULD
Netherlands 1993 Screenwriter: Eveline van Dyck, Director of photography:
Fred Mekenkamp, Director: Netty van Hoorn. Running time: 65 min. 16
mm fim in a Dutch and English version. Distributed by Dutch Film Promotion
Jan Luykenstraat 2, 107 ICM Amsterdam. In the mediatheek Jewish Historical
THE LEGEND (TRAILER ONLY)
Netherlands 1996 Screenwriters: Leo Fuld, Mohamed el-Fers. Trailer for
a MokumTV-serie with Bep Fuld-van Laarhoven, Levent Gemici, Zeki Güngör,
Boris Yalçin and Leo Fuld. Running time: 6.56 min. S-VHS in Dutch
with music The Legend composed by Kees Post. Broadcasted by Salto Omroepstichting
FULD IN RAILAND
Netherlands 1997 Screenwriter/Director: Mohamed el-Fers. Running time:
60 min. S-VHS in Dutch version. Broadcasted by Salto Omroepstichting
THE KING OF YIDDISH MUSIC MEETS QUEEN BEATRIX
Netherlands 1997 Screenwriter/Director: Mohamed el-Fers. Running time:
60 min. S-VHS in Dutch version. Documentary about the presentation of the single-cd God Zegen Nederland (God bless the Netherlands) by Leo Fuld to Queen Beatrix and het son Willem-Alexander of Orange and Nassau. Broadcasted by Salto Omroepstichting
OIF´M WEG STANT MAL A BOIM - GOODBYE LEO
Netherlands 1997 Director: Mohamed el-Fers. Director of photography
funeral Leo Fuld: Ria van Eck, Dick van der Geld. Running time: 60 min.
S-VHS in Dutch version. Broadcasted by Salto Omroepstichting Amsterdam.
My Song Goes 'Round the World
Seeco CELP 420 Leo Fuld  My Song Goes 'Round the World/Pigalle/Zigany
Melody/Vienna Dreams/Miserlou/Song of the Negev/Windmill Song/C'est Si
Bon/Reflections on the Water/Meine Mutter/Yaass Jeweler Sidney Siegel
reportedly in 1943 poured the assets of his Casa Siegel jewelry store
into the founding of a record label and launched a full-fledged American
operation, Seeco Records and its sister label Tropical. Seeco was a "world
music" label long before the term had been coined and the direct
forerunner of present-day companies like Putumayo and Island Records.
The label's top-selling artists included Vicentico Valdés, singer
with Tito Puente's orchestra, Celia Cruz and the King of Yiddish Music
October 1934 The Daily Herald, Monday 15 Oct/34, pg. 10 gives an account of the
concerts Leo Fuld gave with Jack Hylton & Band at the London Palladium.
Fuld is surrounded by 16 Palladium Girls. In the same show the 4 Ink Spots(1st
time in London), 3 Gaylors, Dave & Joe O’Gormon, Bernice & Emily,
Hazel Mangean Girls, Tessie O’Shea and Alec Templeton. More on http://inkspots.ca/ACTIVITIES-34-40.htm
Leo Fuld at Tel Aviv: Concert In Israel 1954
Recorded on the 26th July, 1954 at ''Ohel Shem Concert Hall'': SIDE I: Roumanian Fantasy: Hazemar Hacholom; Mein Stehtele; L'Artzee; Zigany Melody. SIDE II: Meine Mutter Bleib In Ungarn; Misirlou; Wo Ahin Sol Ich Gehn?; Shalom Israel; Bessarabia; Yiddish Ges'l; Mo-me-le; Shalom Israel Orchestra directed by Sam Samely (Germany): Sleeve Note, Isidore Green: Label Vogue VA 160101
In 1956 Fuld was the producer and co-writer of "B'Ein Moledet"
together with director by Nuri Habib. The Cast (in alphabetical order)
was Amos Arikha, Sa'adia Damari, Shoshana Damari, Ethan Freiber, Ezra
Levi, Amnon Mingen, Avraham Omer, Shaike Ophir, Ethan Ovadiah and Kadouri
Shaharbani. Original Music by Moshe Wilensky. Choreographer was Vera Goldman
and cinematography by Nuri Koukou. Film Editing by Nuri Habib and Nuri
ARTONE - Shalom Israel - Leo Fuld (1962/63) Yass/My Yiddishe Mamme/Vie
Ahein Zol Ich Gein/Shalom Israel/In Der Finster/Mamele/Ich Sing/Moshiach/Unter
Boimen/Glick/ Kaddish/Wis Gevein Ist Gevein/Ich Hob Dich Tzu Fil Lieb/Mazel/Doina/Moishele
Mein Friend/Mien Kind/Bessarabia/Yiddish Gessel/Mazel...Nur Nit Far Mir/Tzigany
Melody/Oif'n Veyg Shteit A Boim/Polish Yidle/Dona, Dona, Dona/Eretz Zavat
Halav/Dos Pintele Yid/Meshugeh
The 2 ARTONE albums also released on CBS/Columbia. My Yiddishe Mamme and
Shalom Israel were later released on 1 SONY - CD in the serie Memory Pop Shop.