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Songs about Life: the Jewish Cabaret

Mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley with the New Budapest Orpheum Society

Mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley with the New Budapest Orpheum Society

Monday, September 22, 2014, at 2:00 pm

The New Budapest Orpheum Society is an ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago. The ensemble is part of the Humanities Division and draws upon a wide range of repertories. Some tunes are all but forgotten, many have been rediscovered in European archives; all celebrate the tradition of Jewish cabaret.

Jewish cabaret tended to be urban, edgy, and packed with social commentary and adult situations. The tradition thrived in Europe and made its way to the United States via Ellis Island. The New Budapest Orpheum Society performs songs in Yiddish, English, German, and Hebrew. Some of the songs come from Poland, many from Vienna. There are also Czech and German composers in the Society’s repertory.

Mark Sonksen, bass; Don Stille, piano of the New Budapest Orpheum Society

One song on Monday’s Impromptu was written to a German text in Vienna by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán about women in Chicago: “Wir Ladies aus Amerika” or “We Ladies from America.” Emmerich Kálmán composed operettas, and was said to have been a favorite of Adolph Hitler and was offered the designation of “honorary Aryan,” which he declined. Kálmán spent the remainder of the Second World War in exile.

The New Budapest Orpheum Society is dedicated to recovering and performing cabaret music suppressed by the Nazis during WWII.


The New Budapest Orpheum Society





New Budapest Orpheum Society
Julia Bentley, mezzo soprano
Philip Bohlman, narrator/artistic director
Stewart Figa, baritone
Danny Howard, percussion
Iordanka Kissiova, violin
Ilya Levinson, music director/arranger/piano
Mark Sonksen, bass
Don Stille, piano/accordion

1) The instrumentalists – “Die koschere Mischpoche!” (“The Kosher Family”)

Rosh Hashana
2) Boris Thomashefsky: “Erlekh zayn” (“Be Honorable”) (03:11)
Stewart Figa

3) Emmerich Kálmán: “Wir Ladies aus Amerika”
(“We Ladies From America.”) (03:02)
Julia Bentley

Yom Kippur
4) Erich Walter Korngold: “Tomorrow” (04:20)
Julia Bentley

5) Avrom Brudno: “Friling” (“Spring”) (03:45)
Stewart Figa

6) Hermann Leopoldi: “The Novaks from Prague” (English) (03:56)
Stewart Figa

7) Viktor Ullmann: “Immer inmitten” (“Forever On the Way”) (02:34)
Julia Bentley

Shmini Atzeret
8) Arnold Perlmutter, Herman Wohl, and Louis Gilrod: “Dos pintele Yid” (02:29)
(“The Quintessential Jew” (roughly))
Stewart Figa

9) Hermann Leopoldi: “In einem kleinen Café in Hernals”
(“In a Little Café in Hernals”) (03:06)
Julia Bentley

Simchat Torah
10) Hermann Leopoldi: “Wenn der Ungar lustig ist . . .!”
(“If the Hungarian is Happy”) (04:56)
Stewart Figa

11) Friedrich Holländer: “Illusions” (03:37)
Julia Bentley

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