Over on the Yiddish Song of the Week blog, Forverts associate editor Itzik Gottesman discusses the ballad “Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele” (“As Soon as the First Wife Dies”), as sung by Lifshe Schaechter Widman.
Formally, “Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele” (“As Soon as the First Wife Dies”) could be considered a classic ballad. The first three verses set the stage for the dialogue between the children and their father. As a narrative though, the last verse, which is sung by the father, leaves no resolution to the hopeless situation at all. The melody in ballads almost always stays the same for all the verses. However, in this song the melody changes for the dialogue verses, becoming more dramatic, as does Lifshe’s moving, mournful singing.