Bella ciao

Italian family
Margueriteclark has recently published an exciting video which, by playing two songs after each other seems to suggest that the popular Italian partisan song Bella ciao is virtually of Yiddish origin. The video is worth to watch not only because of the music, but also because of the several archive photos of Klezmer musicians and partisans collected in the background.


Una mattina
Mi son’ alzato
O bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Una mattina
Mi son’ alzato
E ho trovato l’invasor.

O partigiano
Porta mi via
O bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao
O partigiano
Porta mi via
Che mi sento di morir.

Se io muoio
Da partigiano
O bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Se io muoio
Da partigiano
Tu mi devi seppellir.

Seppellire
Lassù in montagna
O bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Seppellire
Lassù in montagna
Sotto l’ombra di un bel fiore

E le genti
Che passeranno
O bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao
E le genti
Che passeranno
Ti diranno: „Che bel fior”.

Quest’ è il fiore
Del partigiano
O bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Quest’ è il fiore
Del partigiano
Morto per la libertà
In a morning
I woke up
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
in a morning
I woke up
and I found the invader.

Oh partisan
take me away
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
oh partisan
take me away
because I feel that I will die.

If I die
as a partisan
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
If I die
as a partisan
you will have to bury me.

Bury me
up on the mountain
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
bury me
up on the mountain
in the shadow of a beautiful flower.

And the people
passing by
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
and the people
passing by
will say: “What a beautiful flower.”

This is the flower
of the partisan
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
this is the flower
of the partisan
who died for the freedom.


This discovery, writes Jenner Melletti in the April 12, 2008 edition of Repubblica Online, is the merit of Fausto Giovannardi, an engineer from Borgo San Lorenzo who, while driving his car, found himself singing the Bella ciao with one of the songs of the CD “Klezmer – Yiddish swing music” purchased some weeks earlier, in June 2006 in Paris. He stopped the car. Took out the CD cover and checked the name of the performer. It was the Odessan Gypsy musician Mishka Tziganoff, and the piece was a Klezmer dance entitled “Koilen” (Carbon) registered with him in 1919 in New York. On the family of the musician – or rather on the obscure and enigmatic life of New York’s Gypsy quarter around them at the beginning of the 20th century – also a film was made in 1983 by Robert Duvall with the title „Angelo my love”. Judging from American Gypsy commentaries, it is considered just as much a cult film over there as the Latcho drom in Europe. Some details of it can be watched on youtube as well. If you have the complete film, let me know about it!

Olasz város a századfordulón
The article of Jenner Melletti was replied by Carlo Loiodice in the edition of May 6 of the Carmilla Online by pointing out in how many ways musical motifs can be transmitted and simultaneously used, and by forewarning: if there is any connection between Tziganoff’s Klezmer melody and the Bella ciao, then it must be probably traced back in more than one step and via complex transmissions, and we must not short-circuit the question like Giovannardi does by supposing that the song was certainly brought home by Italian guest workers from America.

Olasz férj és feleség
The arguments of Loiodice also have precedents. Giovanna Daffini, a peasant woman of Gualtieri, one of the greatest Italian folk singers, who had been working on the rice fields along the Po river since she was thirteen, in 1962, at the age of 49 sang for the recorder of ethnomusicologists Gianni Bosio and Roberto Leydi the song “In the morning, as soon as I wake up, I have to go on the rice fields”, the working song of the peasant women along the Po. “In the songs of Daffini,” writes Gianni Bosio, “there were all the women of her generation, all the courage of a life fought out hard, the lives of the five children educated at whatever effort, the fight done with optimism and courage for everyday existence.” Giovanna and his husband accompanying her on violin, Vittorio Carpi were admitted by the intervention of Bosio to the formation “Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano,” which meant a somewhat easier living to them and some of the most beautiful registrations of authentic Italian folk music to us.

Olasz apa gyerekekkel és szamárral
Even after the first few bars it is obvious that the melody and the text of the Bella ciao derives from this song.








Giovanna Daffini: Alla mattina appena alzata (In the morning, as soon as I wake up), from the CD: Giovanna Daffini: L’amata genitrice (1991)

Alla mattina appena alzata
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
alla mattina appena alzata
in risaia mi tocca andar.

E fra gli insetti e le zanzare
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
e fra gli insetti e le zanzare
un dur lavor mi tocca far.

Il capo in piedi col suo bastone
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
il capo in piedi col suo bastone
e noi curve a lavorar.

O mamma mia, o che tormento!
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
o mamma mia o che tormento
io t’invoco ogni doman.

Ed ogni ora, che qui passiamo
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
Ed ogni ora, che qui passiamo
Noi perdiam la gioventù

Ma verrà un giorno che tutte quante
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
ma verrà un giorno che tutte quante
lavoreremo in libertà.
In the morning, as soon as I wake up
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
in the morning, as soon as I wake up
I have to go on the rice fields.

And among the insects and mosquitos
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
and among the insects and mosquitos
a hard toil is waiting for me.

The capo is standing there with his stick
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
the capo is standing there with his stick
and bends us to work.

Oh my mother, what a pain!
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
oh my mother, what a pain,
I call you every day.


And with every hour we pass here
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
and with every hour we pass here
our youth passes away.

But there will come a day when all of us
o bella ciao bella ciao bella ciao ciao ciao
but there will come a day when all of us
will work in freedom.


Olasz család az asztalnál
The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that in May 1965, after the first public performances of the “In the morning, as soon as I wake up,” a certain Vasco Scansani from the village of Giovanna Daffini wrote a letter to the Communist diary Unità, affirming in it that this song was written by him in 1951 on the melody of Bella ciao. Giovanna and her husband readily acknowledged that they in fact performed the version of Scansani, but it was only one of the several versions of the song. The case made a certain stir, says Cesare Bermani in his volume of essays Guerra guerra ai palazzi e alle chiese (“War, war against the palaces and churches” – a quotation from an 1874 version of the Internationale adjusted to the melody of the Marseillaise) written on the Italian “canto sociale” and primarily on the Bella ciao, and its main result was that the researchers of Italian folk music realized “how much more complex is the world of folk singers, from how many sources it is nurtured, and to what a large extent it takes into consideration the repertoire of the surrounding world, the taste of the public, or even the expectations of the researchers of folk music.” In 1974 also another “author” presented himself, the ex-carabiniere Rinaldo Salvadore, who even published a version of the working song already in 1934 (!)

Olasz nagycsalád
I have found three versions out of the several ones of the original rice workers’ song. The first one, written down already in 1906 (!), was published in the volume Riseri dal me coeur (It springs from my heart) of D. Massa, R. Palazzi and S. Vittone. The second and third version are published on the excellent site of Riccardo Venturi dedicated to the story of Bella ciao. The “thick fog resisting to every attempt of interpretation” mentioned by Margueriteclark in relation to the song probably comes from the fact that the text of the partisan song known to us is the result of the paraphrases and contaminations of several versions like the above ones – similarly to the song of the Mexican revolution “La cucaracha” known in a thousand versions, of which we have written earlier. To us these fragments combined into one Bella ciao already appear incoherent, but the participants of the Resistenza who knew the original songs exactly knew which original piece is paraphrased in each strophe.

Alla mattina appena alzata
o bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao ciao ciao
alla mattina appena alzata,
devo andare a lavorar!

A lavorare laggiù in risaia
o bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao ciao ciao!
A lavorare laggiù in risaia
Sotto il sol che picchia giù!

E tra gli insetti e le zanzare
o bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao ciao ciao
e tra gli insetti e le zanzare,
duro lavoro mi tocca far!

Il capo in piedi col suo bastone
o bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao ciao ciao
il capo in piedi col suo bastone
E noi curve a lavorar!

Lavoro infame, per pochi soldi
o bella ciao bella ciao
Bella ciao ciao ciao
lavoro infame per pochi soldi
E la tua vita a consumar!

Ma verrà il giorno che tutte quante
o bella ciao, bella ciao
Bella ciao ciao ciao
ma verrà il giorno che tutte quante
Lavoreremo in libertàaaaaaa!

In the morning, as soon as I wake up
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao ciao ciao
in the morning, as soon as I wake up
I have to go to work.

To work there down on the rice fields
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao ciao ciao!
to work there down on the rice fields
under the scorching sun.

And among the insects and mosquitos
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao ciao ciao
and among the insects and mosquitos
I have to do hard labour.

The capo is standing there with his stick
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao ciao ciao
the capo is standing there with his stick
and bends us to work.

A miserable work for few money
o bella ciao bella ciao
bella ciao ciao ciao
a miserable work for few money
and it consumes your life.

But there will come a day when all of us
o bella ciao bella ciao
bella ciao ciao ciao
but there will come a day when all of us
will work in freedom!
Öregember szamárral és két kisfiúval
Stamattina mi sono alzata,
stamattina mi sono alzata,
sono alzata - iolì
sono alzata - iolà
sono alzata prima del sol.

Sono andata alla finestra
e ho visto il mio primo amor

che parlava a un’altra ragazza,
discorreva di far l’amor.

Sono andata a confessarmi
e l’ho detto al confessor.

Penitenza che lui m’ha dato:
di lasciare il mio primo amor.

Ma piuttosto che lasciarlo
son contenta mì a morir.

Farem fare la cassa fonda
e andremo dentro in tri:

prima il padre e poi la madre
e il mio amore in braccio a mi,
e il mio amore in braccio a mi.

This morning I woke up
this morning I woke up
woke up – iolì
woke up – iolà
woke up before the dawn.

I went to the window
and I have seen my first lover

as he was speaking to another girl
about how to make love together.

I went to confession
and I told about it to the confessor.

He gave me the penitence
to leave my first lover.

But rather than of leaving him
I’m ready to die.

I will have a coffin made
and we will lay in it all the tree:

first my father then my mother
and then my lover in my arms
and then my lover in my arms.
Olasz nagycsalád árkádok alatt
E picchia picchia la porticella
dicendo: „Oi bella, mi vieni a aprir”.
E picchia picchia la porticella
dicendo: „Oi bella, mi vieni a aprir”.

Con una mano aprì la porta
e con la bocca la gli dà un bacin.
La gh’ha dato un bacio così tanto forte
che la suoi mamma la l’ha sentì.

Ma cos’hai fatto, figliola mia,
che tutto il mondo parla mal di te?
Ma lascia pure che il mondo ’l diga:
io voglio amare chi mi ama me.

Io voglio amare quel giovanotto
ch’l'ha fatt sett’anni di prigion per me.
L’ha fatt sett’anni e sette mesi
e sette giorni di prigion per me.

E la prigione l’è tanto scura,
mi fa paura, la mi fa morir.
He knocks, knocks on the door
and he says: “Oh my fair, come, open it!”
He knocks, knocks on the door
and he says: “Oh my fair, come, open it!”

She opened the door with one hand
she gave him a kiss with her mouth.
She gave her such a loud kiss
that even her mother heard it.

But what did you do, my daughter,
all the world will gossip about you!
Let the world tell what they want,
I want to love him who loves me.

I want to love this boy
who made seven years of prison for me
Seven years and seven months
and seven days of prison, forme.

And the prison is so dar,
that it shocks me, that it makes me die.

Olasz gyerekek horgásznak
Thus the Bella ciao was born on the rice fields along the Po, back in the second half of the 19th century, writes Bermani, according to whom even the burden “bella ciao” is a kind of a farewell to the youth that passed in the work. But then where does the undeniable connection with Tziganoff’s Klezmer melody come from?

I would risk the hypothesis that this connection was of the opposite direction. It is possible that the Klezmer song came from the Bella ciao, or more exactly, from the working song of the rice field workers.

Olasz falusi templom, ünnepi mise
Some ten years ago, as I got on the night express going from the Romanian Alba Iulia to Budapest, I found myself in an illustrious company. In the compartment there sat two persons: a Romanian Greco-Catholic seminarist returning to his university studies to Rome and the Hungarian Catholic Archbishop of Transylvania György Jakubinyi. This latter contradicted to all the stereotypes of the Catholic priest. He was an exceptionally manly figure, with fascinating Jewish humour, attentiveness and enormous education. He converted the twelve hours long journey into a fantastic one-man-show, and even if he made us to talk a lot, it is his stories that I remember the best. In order none of us three should have any “advantage,” neither he and me spoke in Hungarian with each other, nor he and the seminarist in Romanian, but from time to time, as Jakubinyi proposed, we changed language, from Italian to French, from French to Latin, German, Russian, Greek, Hebrew, altough at Modern Hebrew – in which, told Jakubinyi, he does his correspondence with Elie Wiesel, as their families were neighbors in Sighetu Marmaţiei, and since then they have remained in good connection with each other – we both failed. Then we returned to some language easier to understand, also promoted by a bottle of archiepiscopal wine for the mass that was pulled out in the meantime.

Olasz gyerekjáték
It was then that Jakubinyi related that his family is actually Giacomini, and that his grand-grandfather had come as an ice cream seller – gelati! gelati! – to Sighetu Marmaţiei. Italian confectioners, he told, had ruled the market of sweets since the beginning of the 20th century in the eastern part of the Monarchy just like Albanians did in the former Yugoslavia, Hemshins (Muslim Armenians) in Turkey, or Azeris in Iran.

Muzsikás, Szól a kakas már CD (1992)
The Hungarian folk group “Muzsikás” (The Musicians) published their CD “Szól a kakas már” (The rooster is crowing) in 1992. Accidentally, its cover displays a gobelin version by Zsuzsa Péreli of the same archive photo of a Transylvanian Jewish Klezmer band that you can see in the background of the Koilen/Bella ciao video linked by Margueriteclark. On this CD they reconstructed the music of the Northern Transylvanian Maramureş Jews who were almost completely annihilated in the first half of the 1940s. This reconstruction of a music that has never been written down or registered, was made forty years later, with relatively great precision. On the basis of what?

The Muzsikás visited those old Gypsy musicians who before WWII played at the feasts of the Jews. They have exactly known and have conserved until the 90s the various melodies they had to play on the various events. Gheorghe Covaci, Árpád Toni and the others, when the Muzsikás presented them a tune they had not played for forty years, immediately recognized its style. “Where is this from?” they asked. “It is sure, thousand percent sure that this is Jewish music.” And they immediately repeated it on their violin with all those nuances and ornaments as they used to play it on the Jewish feasts.

Olasz öregek
In the 90s the folk music center Fonó in Budapest organized a series of musical events with the title “Utolsó óra” (Last hour). They invited from week to week another old folk musician from Slovakia, Ukraine or Transylvania to perform in the music center and to register on CD whatever they knew. We participated at the evening of a since then deceased famous Gypsy violinist from Huszt, from the same Maramureş region where the Muzsikás collected their melodies and where Jakubinyi was born. One of the highlights of the evening was when he presented how he would play the same melody for a traditional Hungarian, Ukrainian, Jewish or Romanian public in the region, for the Russian party committee, for their family, on a public evening in the House of Culture. It was a tremendous experience. Like Archbishop Jakubinyi on the train. An exact illustration of the saying: “so many languages you speak, so many persons you are.”

Olasz nagycsalád
And in that region, where Jews, Romanians, Rusyns, Gypsies, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Italians, Russians, Slovakians, Polish, Czech, Armenians, Tatars lived together, the melodies did not remain the exclusive property of only one ethnic group. For example, the Hungarian folk song “The rooster is crowing,” which gave the title of the CD of the Muzsikás, and which also displays a remarkable influence of Turkish-Arabic folk music, was a favorite song of the famous Transylvanian prince Gábor Bethlen in the 17th century as the great Hungarian novelist Zsigmond Móricz relates it in his “Transylvania.” Nevertheless the renowned musicologist Bence Szabolcsi notes the following story about the same song: “The Hassidic rabbi Eizik Taub came around 1780 to Nagykálló [in the same region] as a melamed (teacher) of the children of the local rashekol, and later he became the rabbi of the same town. A great lover of the nature and of poetical spirit, while once walking in the fields, he heard the song of a little shepherd, and he felt an irresistible urge to learn it. So he bought the song for two forints. As soon as they made the bargain, the rabbi learned the song and the shepherd boy forgot it. Since then the Jews of Northern Hungary feel their own this song, and they sing it in all their religious feasts, because they interpret its text as allegorically speaking about the coming of the Messiah.”








The Muzsikás and Márta Sebestyén: The rooster is crowing, from the CD Magyar zsidó népzene (Hungarian Jewish folk music, 1991)

The Muzsikás has pointed out a large number of Hungarian, Romanian, Rusyn and other influences in the Jewish music played from the Tisza to the Black Sea. All these influences were mediated between the various ethnic groups by the musical professionists of the region, the professional Gypsy bands. Is it not possible that together with the Italian gelateristi, the Giacomini, Valentini and Giuliano ruling the market of the sweets from the Hungarian Nagykálló to the Ukrainian Odessa, also the songs of the rice workers arrived from the Po to Mishka Tziganoff, who – as Katalin Dorogi points it out in her resume of Jenner Melletti’s article in the 168 óra – knew very well also the Jewish musical repertoire of Romania?

Olasz értelmiségi
And to compensate for the loss of a dream, in the next post we will show how it looks like when a Jewish melody really becomes a movement song.

Idős olasz nő(Archive photos of Tullo from the Po lowlands)

21 comentarios:

Studiolum dijo...

Accettiamo (e rispondiamo) anche dei commenti in italiano. Avanti, coraggio… :)

Giovanni dijo...

Te lo dico in italiano allora che questo post (segnalatomi da un amico quest'oggi) è straordinario. Non c'è molto altro da dire onestamente!

Studiolum dijo...

Ti ringrazio veramente. È un vero onore sentirlo dalla bocca (o piuttosto leggerlo dalla tastatura) di un italiano!

Fra poco scriveremo anche della “genealogia” di alcuni altri canzoni di movimento italiani. Torna a leggerci presto!

Anónimo dijo...

Hmm... Scusatemi.

Le 4 note che cominciano "Bella Ciao" sono memorabili, si,
come anche
"O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao".

La versione di Mishka Ziganoff e la "Bella Ciao" che conosciamo noi hanno solo le prime quattro note in comune che ripetono, poi da li l'intenzione melodia
e' (assai) diversa.
Da ovunque la melodia ha origine, sia Yiddish o Italiana, io penso il plagiatore si avrebbe ritenuto anche il"Bella ciao, ciao, ciao" perche il ritmo a quel punto e' ( dare I say it ?) "very catchy".


Ci sono 12 note in un ottavo.
Puo' darsi che esso sia una coincidenza?
.

Studiolum dijo...

Sí. E' anche possibile che sia solo una coincidenza.

Però c'è anche un'altra spiegazione. La melodia che segue le prime note (non solo le prime quattro, ma piuttosto le prime otto, poiché anche le altre quattro possono essere ritenute variazioni del Bella ciao) è tipica del klezmer, mentre questa breve “introduzione” ovviamente no. E' possibile che si tratti di un canzone heterogeneo, uno composto da due parti, la melodia stessa e un “riscaldamento” non necessariamente tratto dallo stesso tesoro di melodie yiddish. Questo procedimento è assai frequente nella musica ebrea della Transilvania, pure suonata da zingari, dove la parte “introduttiva” è spesso presa da canzoni popolari rumeni o ungheresi.

Effe dijo...

continuo il viaggio straordinario tra le pagine multilingue di questo luogo di fascino.

Studiolum dijo...

Bin ëvnù ant ël fium Wang! ;)

Effe dijo...

ma quante ne sai? - di lingue, intendo :-)

Studiolum dijo...

malgrado tutti i miei sforzi sempre meno e sempre peggio di quante e come vorrei :(

francesca dijo...

Ogni volta che percorro, anche per un breve tratto, questo blog, trovo una gemma. Grazie.

(Quanto avrei voluto essere in quello scompartimento).

Studiolum dijo...

Dunque torna a percorrerlo di più!

Per quanto a quello scompartimento, niente è perso. In queste parti del mondo ogni scompartimento è così. Un'avventura garantita. Solo di avventure incredibili vissute nei vari scompartimenti da Polonia a Bosnia si potrebbe comporre un bel blog. E tutte avventure multilingue, s’intende.

francesca dijo...

Altro che, se tornerò :-)

Non resta che riprendere il treno da quelle parti, allora (vicinissime - anzi, contigue - a quelle che mi hanno visto nascere, per cui so che quello che dici è proprio vero), e sperare che le tue altre avventure emergano ancora.

Studiolum dijo...

A great video collection of various performances of the song has just been released at http://one-way.livejournal.com/421835.html (with a reference to this article, огромное спасибо!)

Irina dijo...

An article in a Kiev paper on the contemporary gypsies "Киевские цыгане работают строителями, одеваются на Троещине и сидят в интернете"
Рубрика: Столица // 27 июля :

http://mycityua.com/articles/city/2010/07/27/105028.html

Studiolum dijo...

A very interesting article! I will try to summarize it for Río Wang. If in the future you find anything that can be this interesting for our readers – already you know well our profile – please do not hesitate to send it as well.

Irina dijo...

My pleasure. I fell in love with your blog.:)

Currently I've found a very impressive material on the Czechs in Kiev from the Czech paper of the Russian diaspora "Русское слово" by Alexander and Dina the Muratovs: http://www.aidm.eu/article.php?sid=74

Hope you will not be disappointed by it's length :)

Studiolum dijo...

On the contrary, I have been disappointed by its shortness. It only consoles me that it promises a second part – I will try to find it. A highly interesting article on a less known thread of history, the Czech volunteers fighting on Russian side (who would play later an important role in the anti-Bolshevik battles and even later, with their wealth “accumulated” during the Russian civil war, in shaping the Czechoslovakian economy). Perhaps this is how the story of Švejk should have continued if Hašek did not die just around the moment of Švejk felling in Russian captivity…

Thank you very much!

Irina dijo...

All three parts are there! http://www.aidm.eu/index.php I've downloaded them all. This issue is interesting for me too because among my parents's friends was a person whose father was Czech and a general of the Russian Army. Later, during the WWII the Barents's friend was in the Czech army for which he served a term in the Stalin's camp and returned only after Stalin's death. His son lives in Kiev, but we lost his traces.

Giovanni dijo...

If I may make a humble suggestion, it would be good if you had an email somewhere on the home page that one could send this sort of links to.

Studiolum dijo...

You’re right. Now I have included it on the margin, in the block “More from us”.

ilgioa dijo...

Solo una piccola nota: "Riseri dal me coeur" significa "risaie del mio cuore", cioè "rice fields of my heart".

Complimenti per la ricerca e l'articolo!