78 rpm Recordings of European Jewish Music

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Jewish Radio Broadcasts in Pre-War Europe

Introduction

Ten or so years ago Michael Corenthal, proprietor of Yesterday's Memories in Milwaukee and author of Cohen on the Telephone: a history of Jewish recorded humor and popular music, 1892-1942, sent me a hefty batch of pre-war Polish newspapers - just the kind of thing I delight in perusing in an idle hour.

None of it was without interest, but in particular I was drawn to an old radio magazine that contained a list of broadcasts for a week in early October 1936. I was curious as to whether any Jewish programmes may have been broadcast and read through 40 or so pages containing details of hundreds of programmes from Poland and elsewhere in Europe. There was not the slightest indication of any programmes of Jewish interest, but then on page 40, towards the very end of the magazine, I found details of a concert broadcast from Vilna on Saturday, 10 October. This was listed as Koncert w wykonaniu Chóru J. Gersztejna [Concert given by J. Gersztejn's Choir] and, although all the titles were given in Polish translation, it was clear that this was a concert of Yiddish songs, presumably performed by Yankev Gershteyn's well-known choir from Vilna. Among the 11 songs performed were Nowa pieśń [Yiddish: 'Dos naye lid'], Posłuchaj, piękna dziewczyno, pieśń ludowa [Yiddish: 'Her nor du sheyn meydele'] and Wszyscy za jednego [Yiddish: 'Ale far ayns'].

That, though, was all I could find and I returned to work on my discography and thought no more about it. Nevertheless, in the ensuing years that programme rather haunted me. Was it nothing more than an odd occurrence that I had chanced on or was it an example of a far more widespread phenomenon? In other words, had there been Jewish radio broadcasts in pre-war Europe on any meaningful scale?

The question never quite left my mind and then one day earlier this year, weary of attempting to track down (unsuccessfully) yet one more matrix number and sickened at the prospect of having to decipher another blurred label scan, I decided to let things drop for a few days and see what I could find out about pre-war radio broadcasts.

The ‘Schedule of Jewish Broadcasts’ on this website contains the results of the few days I spent investigating the subject. The selection of programmes is totally random and therefore no general conclusions whatsoever can be drawn from it. I do, however, find it impressive that the BBC was broadcasting programmes of Jewish and Yiddish songs as early as December 1925, only 3 years after its very first broadcast on 14 December 1922. Clearly the Corporation's reputation for catering to a wide cultural base goes back to its very beginnings. Perhaps I shouldn't, but I find it equally astonishing that on Wednesday, 6 June 1928, listeners in Britain could ease back into their armchairs, switch on the 'wireless' and listen to a (live?) relay of Cantor Gershon Sirota singing at the Kingsway Hall, London. Life in 'stuffy' 1920s Britain may not have been quite as we imagine it. In fact, of course, it wasn't. The whole point of the discography and this work on pre-war radio is to blast away preconceptions about the past and dismantle the increasingly ritualised and fatuous representations of it; but that, as they say, is another story.

What remains to be discovered? Quite a lot, I suspect, and I intend to find out...

Schedule Of Jewish Radio Broadcasts In Europe 

 

Date of Broadcast

 

Country

 

Station

 

Bandwave (metres)

 

Description

 

09/12/25 (Wednesday)

 

UK

 

London—Call 2LO

 

(365 metres)

 

8.40 pm—9 pm:— Jewish and Yiddish Folk Songs: Miss Hilda Ammo (soprano); Mr. Raymond Ellis (baritone); Miss Katie Goldsmith (solo violin) and Miss Effle [sic] Kalisz (solo pianoforte). Stories told by Mr. Morris Harvey

9.15—9.30 pm:—Folk Songs (continued)

9.30 pm—10 pm:—Part Singing by Mr. L. R. Birman's Jewish Choir—Opening Chorus (Shulamit) (in Yiddish) (Goldfaden); Socharti Loch (Lewandowski); Psalm XXIV (Lewandowski); Refugees' Lamentations (in Yiddish) (Mendelssohn—adapted); Veshomru (traditional); Berosh Hashono (Naumburg).

 

16/03/27 (Wednesday)

 

UK

 

London—Call 2LO

 

(361.4 metres)

 

10.38 pm—11 pm:—Hebrew and Yiddish Folk Songs sung by the Halevi Choral Society, from the Biblical Masquerade Ball, People's Palace, Mile End-road.  "Rabbi Elimelech," "A Calamity has befallen the Rabbi," "Yoshke, Yoshke" (traditional); "Under the Green Trees" (words by Bialik); "Hatikvah" (words by S. Imber, Traditional Melody)

 

06/06/28 (Wednesday)

 

UK

 

London—Call 2LO

and

Daventry—Call 5XX

 

(830kc) (361.4m.)

 

(187kc) (1,604.3m.)

 

9.35 pm—11 pm:—Jewish Chronicle Musical Festival, organized by Alexander Kraut ; Synagogue Choir (Male voices); Sirota (Cantor - solo); Synagogue Choir (mixed voices); Choral Society; Massed Choirs, relayed from the Kingsway Hall.

 

?/05/30

 

UK

 

Manchester Station

 

Not stated

 

Time not stated: Concert of Jewish music (75 minutes long)

 

19/08/33 (Saturday)

 

Poland

 

Vilna

 

565 metres

 

2.55 p.m.:—Jewish Gramophone Music

 

20/08/33 (Sunday)

 

Denmark

 

Copenhagen

 

281.12 metres

 

7.30 p.m.:—Chief Rabbi Dr. Friediger on, the "Zionist —Congress in Prague"

 

25/08/33 (Friday)

 

Netherlands

 

Hilversum

 

1875 metres

 

6.20 p.m.:—R. H. van der Heide, Talk on Palestine

 

26/08/33 (Saturday)

 

Poland

 

Vilna / Wilno

 

565 metres

 

2.55 p.m.:—Jewish Gramophone Music

 

29/08/33 (Tuesday)

 

Sweden

 

Stockholm

 

4354 [sic]

 

7.30 p.m.:—Professor Anton Fridrichsen, "Judaism and Christianity in the Twentieth Century"

 

30/08/33 (Wednesday)

 

Belgium

 

Brussels (Flemish)

 

337.8 metres

 

6.30 p.m.:—Jewish Rhapsody by Manfred

 

03/09/33 (Sunday)

 

Latvia

 

Riga

 

525 metres

 

8.30 a.m.:—Eili-Eili (Jewish Song on Saxophone)

 

06/09/33 (Wednesday)

 

Netherlands

 

Hilversum

 

1875 metres

 

7.25 p.m.:—Jewish Songs, sung by Leo Fuld : 1, Ghetto (Benatzky ; 2, Yismach Moshe (Roskin) ; 3, Gott in sein Mishpot is gerecht (Meierowitz-Berman) ; 4, Steh auf, mein Volk (Goldfaden)

 

06/09/33 (Wednesday)

 

Romania

 

Bucharest

 

394 metres

 

8 p.m.:—Sarvos [sic] (violin), —"Nigun," by Ernest Bloch

 

08/09/33 (Friday)

 

Sweden

 

Stockholm

 

435 metres

 

9.10 p.m.:—Professor A. Fridrichsen, "Judaism and Christianity at the Present Day"

 

09/09/33 (Saturday)

 

Poland

 

Vilna

 

566 [sic] metres

 

2.55 p.m.:—Jewish Gramophone Music

 

09/09/33 (Saturday)

 

Austria

 

Vienna

 

517 metres

 

6 p.m.:—Dr. Franz Horch, "Max Reinhardt's Sixtieth Birthday."

 

09/09/33 (Saturday)

 

Czechoslovakia

 

Prague

 

488 metres

 

6.30 p.m.:—R. Rosenheim, "Max Reinhardt's Sixtieth Birthday."

 

10/09/33 (Sunday)

 

Belgium

 

Brussels

 

337 metres

 

1.30 p.m.:—Gramophone Concert including Hebrew Songs, "Zadik Katomor," "Ki Lekach Tow."

 

11/09/33 (Monday)

 

UK

 

Scottish Regional

 

(797kc.) (376.4m.)

 

8.15 pm:—A Half- Hour's Entertainment by the Yiddish Players, with Esta Stein, Jos Greenspun, Aron Friedenrich, Ruth Kalisch.

 

13/09/33 (Wednesday)

 

Yugoslavia

 

Belgrade

 

431 metres

 

8 p.m.—8.30 p.m.:—Ludwig Mandel singing Hebrew Songs.

 

13/09/33 (Wednesday)

 

Romania

 

Bucharest

 

394 metres

 

8 p.m.:—A. A. Sarvas (violin), —"Nigun," (Bloch)

 

15/09/33 (Friday)

 

France

 

Radio-Paris

 

1724 metres

 

12 noon:—Jewish Broadcast: 1. Talk on Rosh Hashanah  2. Jewish Songs

 

15/09/33 (Friday)

 

Poland [sic]

 

Kosice

 

293

 

2.50 p.m.:—Jewish Polonaise from Suite by Moussorgsky

 

16/09/33 (Saturday)

 

Poland

 

Vilna / Wilno

 

565 metres

 

2.55 p.m.:—Jewish Gramophone Music

 

16/09/33 (Saturday)

 

Denmark

 

Copenhagen

 

281 metres

 

4.15 p.m.:—Story by the poet Meïr Goldschmidt

 

18/09/33 (Monday)

 

Switzerland

 

Zurich

 

459 metres

 

6.30 p.m.:—Dr. Nettie Sutra*, Talk on Rahel Varnhagen

*Surname not entirely legible - appears to be 'Sutra'

 

18/09/33 (Monday)

 

Sweden

 

Stockholm

 

435 metres

 

8 p.m.:—Engel Lund, Hebrew Songs —Yafim Haleilos Bicnaan [sic] (Lovely are the nights in Canaan); Po Baa [rest of word illegible] (March of Hope)

 

19/09/33 (Tuesday)

 

Poland

 

Warsaw

 

1411 metres

 

8 p.m.:—Salecki (tenor), Aria from the Opera "The Jewess" (Halévy."

 

22/09/33 (Friday)

 

France

 

Radio-Paris

 

1724 metres

 

12 noon:—Jewish Broadcast: 1. Talk on Yom Kippur  2. Jewish Songs

 

25/09/33 (Monday)

 

Norway

 

Oslo

 

1083 metres

 

8.0.:—Engel Lund, Two Jewish Songs, "Die Mamme hot mich geschicht" and "Sabbath-Song."

 

29/09/33 (Friday)

 

France

 

Radio-Paris

 

1724 metres

 

12 noon:—Jewish Broadcast: Talk on "Tabernacles."

 

29/09/33 (Friday)

 

Yugoslavia

 

Belgrade

 

431 metres

 

4 p.m.: Jewish Songs by Albers Lang (violin), 1. Isaiah (Freur), 2. Eili, Eili (Seidl), 3. Hebrew Songs (Dobrover), 4. Hebrew Songs and Dances (Braun), 5. Dances of Palestine Youth (Lang)

 

29/09/33 (Friday)

 

Sweden

 

Stockholm

 

435 metres

 

9.15 p.m.: Talk on the Swedish-Jewish poet, Oscar Levertin

 

30/09/33 (Saturday)

 

Poland

 

Vilna / Wilno

 

565 metres

 

2.55 p.m.:—Jewish Gramophone Music

 

09/10/33 (Monday)

 

Belgium

 

Brussels (Flemish)

 

337 metres

 

12 noon:—Excerpts from "Shulamith" by Goldfaden

 

10/10/33 (Monday)

 

Belgium

 

Brussels (Flemish)

 

337 metres

 

8.45 p.m.:—Interview with N. Rust "A Concentration Camp in Germany."

 

17/08/34 (Friday)

 

UK

 

Midlands Regional

 

(767kc.) (391.1m.)

 

10 pm—10.30 pm:—The Yiddish Players in a programme of original music and comedy

 

29/11/34 (Thursday)

 

UK

 

Newcastle

 

(1,429kc.) (209.9m.)

 

9.25 pm—10 pm:—An Entertainment : Presented by Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company.

 

06/12/34 (Thursday)

 

UK

 

Midland Regional

 

(767kc) (391.1m.)

 

9.30 pm—10 pm:—The Yiddish Chauve Souris Company, with Esta Stein, in a programme of music and drama

 

07/12/34 (Friday)

 

UK

 

West Regional

 

(977kc) (307.1m.)

 

7.30 pm—8 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company.

 

11/03/35 (Monday)

 

UK

 

Western

 

(804kc) (373.1m.)

 

9.30 pm—10 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company.

 

01/04/35 (Monday)

 

UK

 

Northern

 

(668kc) (449.1m.)

 

9 pm—10 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish "Chauve Souris" Company.

 

01/05/35 (Wednesday)

 

UK

 

Midland

 

(1,013kc) (296.2m.)

 

9.30 pm—10 pm:—The Yiddish Chauve Souris Company, with Esta Stein, in a programme of music and drama

 

01/05/35 (Wednesday)

 

France

 

Paris (Poste parisien)

 

(959kc) (312.8m.) 100kw.

 

6.30 pm—6.50 pm:—Jewish Programme

 

27/06/35 (Thursday)

 

UK

 

Northern

 

(668kc) (449.1m.)

 

7 pm—8 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company.

 

04/10/35 (Friday)

 

UK

 

Midland

 

(1,013kc) (296.2m.)

 

9.15 pm—10 pm:—Esta Stein and her Yiddish Chauve Souris Company in a programme of Music and Drama

 

09/10/35 (Wednesday)

 

UK

 

Northern

 

(668kc) (449.1m.)

 

8.35 pm—9.10 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company.  Programme arranged by Joseph Greenspun : N. Schachnoff (tenor) : Renee Barr (soprano) : Ziporah (contralto) : Musical Director, H. Rosenberg

 

14/10/35 (Monday)

 

UK

 

Western

 

(804kc) (373.1m.)

 

9 pm—10 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company, arranged by Jos. Greenspun.

 

07/12/35 (Saturday)

 

UK

 

Northern Ireland

 

(977kc) (307.1m.)

 

7 pm—7.42 pm:—Esta Stein and her Yiddish Chauve Souris Company in Folk Songs, Sketches and Stories in Yiddish, Russian and English : music arranged by H. Rosenberg

 

14/01/36 (Tuesday)

 

UK

 

Midland

 

(1,013kc) (296.2m.)

 

9.15 pm—10 pm:—The Yiddish Players directed by Joseph Sherman

 

06/02/36 (Thursday)

 

UK

 

Regional

 

(877kc) (342.1m.)

 

8 pm—8.30 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company ; programme arranged by Joeph. Greenspun ; with Nathan Schachnoff, Naomi, M. Savage, Zyporah, L. Rosenberg, Joseph Greenspun, and Esta Stein ; music arranged by H. Rosenberg ; piano accompanist Edith H. Godfrey

 

08/02/36 (Saturday)

 

UK

 

Midland

 

(1,013kc) (296.2m.)

 

4.30 pm—5.15 pm:—Esta Stein and her Yiddish Chauve Souris Company in an original programme of Music and Drama

 

28/04/36 (Tuesday)

 

UK

 

Northern

 

(668kc) (449.1m.)

 

6.50 pm—7.30 pm:—Esta Stein and her Yiddish Chauve Souris Company ; programme arranged by Joseph Greenspun : music director, H. Rosenberg

 

01/05/36 (Friday)

 

UK

 

Western

 

(804kc) (373.1m.)

 

9.30 pm—10.20 pm:—Esta Stein and herYiddish Chauve Souris Company ; programme arranged by Joseph  Greenspun ; with Nathan Schacnoff [sic] (tenor) ; Doris Taylor (soprano) ; Joseph Greenspun.

 

13/06/36 (Saturday)

 

UK

 

Midland

 

(1,013kc) (296.2m.)

 

10 pm—8.30 pm:—Esta Stein and her Yiddish Chauve Souris Company ; programme arranged by Joeph  Greenspun ; with Doris Taylor (soprano) ; Nathan Schachnoff (tenor) ; Louis Rosenberg (bass-baritone) and Edith Godfrey (accompanist)

 

10/10/36 (Saturday)

 

Poland

 

Vilna / Wilno

 

559.7 metres

 

15.40 pm—16.10 pm:—Koncert w wykonaniu Chóru J. Gersztejna [Concert by J. Gersztejn's Choir] 1) Zylberts : Nowa pieśń, 2) M. Pozner : Kładę glówkę swą, pieśń ludowa, 3) M. Pozner : Nie chodź z innymi dziewczętami, pieśń ludowa, 4) L. Liow : Lulinke, pieśń ludowa, 5) Fajwiszyc : Posłuchaj, piękna dziewczyno, pieśń ludowa, 6) Gelbart : Stepy, 7) Połoński : Krynica, 8) Połoński : Kto, 9) Alman : Elul-teg, 10) Gelbart : Kujenojl, 11) L. Low [sic] : Wszyscy za jednego

 

01/12/36 (Thursday)

 

UK

 

Regional

 

(877kc) (342.1m.)

 

7.30—8 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company ; with Esta Stein, Joe Silver, Joseph Greenspun, Ethel Roll ; Jewish Male Choir, conducted by I. R. Berman ; Edith H. Godfrey (pianoforte) ; Lola Shari (Guest Artist)

 

17/02/37 (Wednesday)

 

UK

 

Athlone

 

(565kc) (531m.), 100kw.

 

7—7.40 pm:—Yiddish Folk Music

 

 

04/03/37 (Thursday)

 

UK

 

National

 

(200kc) (1,500m.)

 

8—8.25 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company in a programme of music, drama and sketches, directed by Joseph Greenspun ; orchestra conducted by Harold Lowe

 

29/06/37 (Tuesday)

 

UK

 

Regional

 

(877kc) (342.1m.)

 

8—8.30 pm:—Esta Stein and her Yiddish Chauve Souris Company in Malava Malka

 

04/10/37 (Monday)

 

UK

 

National

 

(200kc) (1,500m.)

 

9.35—10 pm:—Esta Stein's Yiddish Chauve Souris Company with Joseph Greenspun, Doris Taylor, the Jewish Male Voice Choir, conducted by Ir [sic] Berman ; programme arranged by Joseph Greenspun

 

22/01/39 (Sunday)

 

UK

 

National

 

Not stated

 

Time not stated: "The Faith of Israel" (2), by H. M. Loewe, Reader of Rabbinics at Cambridge University

 

24/01/39 (Tuesday)

 

UK

 

Scottish

 

Not stated

 

Time not stated: The Glasgow Jewish Institute Male Voice Choir, Soloists, I. Balkan and D. Markson: arrangements of Modern Palestinian Folk Songs, "Creation's Hymn," by Beethoven, and "Zemer Le-Shabbos," by I. Balkan.

 

25/01/39 (Wednesday)

 

France

 

Poste Parisien

 

Not stated

 

Time not stated: Special Jewish Broadcast organised by "La Voix d'Israël"

Posted 22 December 2008.

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