Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive

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Far Vos? (Why?)

Performer: Sue Roemer and the Fabrangen Fiddlers
From a recording issued in 1975 under the title American Chai
Freedman Catalog # F-15(a)

Audio Clips:

    Excerpt (13 seconds)
    .aiff format, 281 KB .wav format, 73 KB
    Full Selection (3 minutes, 12 seconds)
    .aiff format, 4,135 KB .wav format, 1,058 KB

NOTE ON FILE SIZE AND FORMATS: The .aiff format can be read by most browsers and equipment configurations; some but not all of the newer browsers can read the Microsoft ADPCM format (.wav) presented here. These are large files and will take a long time (about 7 minutes per 1,000 KB) to download on a 28.8 Kbaud modem connection. We suggest that you test your browser with one of the smallest .wav format excerpts to preview the song and determine if your browser supports this compressed format before attempting to download any of the other sound files.

About the song:

"Far Vos" is from the poem by Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). One version was published in 1932 by A.Z. Idelsohn and another in 1946 by Ben Yomen. The melody in this version was composed by the singer, Sue Roemer. Far vos, translated means "Why?" This song was popular in Poland between World Wars I & II.

About the performer:

Sue Roemer is a cantor in Silver Springs, Maryland, U.S.A., and a member of the talented group known as the Farbrengen Fiddlers. The Farbrengen Fiddlers have been entertaining for over 25 years, performing Hebrew and Yiddish favorites, Sephardic melodies, Khasidic songs, near Eastern (Indian) style music with sitar and "liturgical bluegrass."


(Click on image of Yiddish text to view enlargement)

Far vos iz dos likhtele farloshn?
Ikh hob es gehitn fun vint un fun shturem,
Gevolt est zol brenen--
Derfar iz dos likhtele farloshn.

Far vos iz dos blimele farvyanet?
Ikh hob es gehitn, tsum hartsn getulyet,
Gevolt es zol blien --
Derfahr iz dos blimele farvaynet.

Far vos iz di strune tserisn?
Ikh hob zi getsoygn alts hekher un shtarker,
Gevolt zi zol shpiln --
Derfar iz di strune tserisn.


[Note: the sheet music shown here offers an alternate tune.]
(Click on image of sheet music to view enlarged version.)

Why did the flame go out?
I protected it from wind and storm;
I so wanted it to burn.

Why did the flower fade?
I held it close to my breast;
I so wanted it to bloom.

Why did the string burst?
I stretched it tauter;
I wanted the music to soar higher and higher.