Yiddish Lamberts: An Announcement and a Call for Help

Remember those funny pink celluloid cylinders made by a man named Thomas Lambert during the first few years of the 20th century in Chicago? Our CD, The Pink Lambert, was only the second release by Archeophone, back in 1999. Well, we’re seeing pink again.

A large block of Yiddish selections were among Lambert’s first releases, around 1901—titles including show tunes from Yiddish theater, operatic arias, and sacred numbers. A collection of many of these very early Lamberts was recently acquired by the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and they have reached out to us to put them out on a new CD. In turn, we have asked Mayrent Director Henry Sapoznik to shepherd the project, providing translations and context for material that is foreign even to people knowledgeable about Yiddish culture.

10 Lambert Cylinders featuring the earliest Yiddish material (photo  courtesy of the Mayrent Institute)

Lamberts come in a variety of colors: pink, wine, and black (Courtesy of the Mayrent Institute)

That’s because apparently these are the earliest known recordings of Yiddish music. It’s not clear why Lambert chose to market this material, but presumably he had an “in” with Chicago’s large Jewish community. One other mystery we’re trying to solve is why all the cylinders are announced “Standard Record,” instead of something like “Record made for the Lambert Company of Chicago,” which is the usual formula we hear. Has anybody out there got a clue?

Besides the 11 cylinders now in the Mayrent Institute, we have contributions from private collectors to bring the total number of Yiddish Lamberts to 19 for our CD set. These are rare, rare items. So we’re asking you: do you have any Yiddish Lamberts to add into the mix? Below are the titles we have so far:

NO. TITLE PERFORMER
 102  Tahne Nit Solomon Smulewitz
 106  Rozhinkes mit Mandlen, von Shulamis William Nemrel
 108 Min Hameizar William Nemrel
 110 Lustige Chsidim Dave Franklin
 144  Kabet es Owicho Kalmen Juvelier
 148  Weisoso, von Achashweires Dave Franklin
 150  Meine Tate Hot Gemacht, von Schamel Israel Dave Franklin
 167  Hagode shall Peisach Dave Franklin
 178  Shicker Lied Solomon Smulewitz
 185  Jetzias Mizraim, von Teibele Solomon Smulewitz
 187  Die Glesele Mashke Solomon Smulewitz
 188  Ben Hador Kalmen Juvelier
 199  Der Kadesh, von Jeshive Bocher William Nemrel
 302  Eil Mole Rachmim Sam Rubin
 304  Die Yudishe Chuppe (Descriptive Song) Sam Rubin
 305  Das Yudel, von Die Nacthtigal von Jerusholaim Solomon Smulewitz
 310  Odom Jeseide Miofor (Sacred, for Rosh Hashana) William Nemrel
 313  Zu Gefellen Menner, von America Solomon Smulewitz
 321  Sprinzes Bentchen Sam Rubin

The titles above in italics are the names of theater shows in which the songs appeared. You can read more about these recordings in the press release. Or find out more about the work of the Mayrent Institute on their website. Go check your cylinder collection, and let us know!

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One thought on “Yiddish Lamberts: An Announcement and a Call for Help

  1. Those wine-colored cylinders are beautiful! Not even speaking Yiddish, I look forward to the culture yet to be discovered in this release… thanks for the mention of the Mayrent Institute; something new for me to study up on.

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