In search of "Shvayg Mayn Harts"
February 7, 2017 5:54 AM   Subscribe

The song "Nature Boy" was plagiarized from a Yiddish song called "Shvayg Mayn Harts" (Be Still My Heart) by Herman Yablokoff. I want to find a recording of the original song.

I've been able to find lots of references to the original song (its composer won a lawsuit), and that it appeared in a musical called Papirosin, but I have not been able to find any recordings of anyone singing or playing the song. Where should I look for something like this?
posted by overeducated_alligator to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, I am totally just throwing this out here in case it may be helpful to you or some other reader: I searched for: "schweig mein herz"* and "nature boy" and found this passage in a Google books:

"Abez...managed to sell this song to Nat King Cole in the late 1940s. Set to a Yiddish waltz tune, "Schweig Mein Herz" ("Still My Heart" -- a subsequent lawsuit was settled out of court)..."
-- but you already knew that (although the spelling in this book is of German, not Yiddish words); my thought was that there might be some Yiddish-German connection that would lead you to the original that you seek.

*this was my somewhat naive attempt to convert the Yiddish "Shvayg Mayn Harts" to German; there may be missing "e"'s (or "en"'s?) on the end of schweig or mein; also, "still" may be inserted before "mein".

(Also, an alternate spelling that got me some different hits for "papirosin" is "papirosen" -- may be a dead-end, though)

There are at least a few YouTube videos of peoples' recording of a song with a title similar to "schweig mein herz" -- though I realize German is not Yiddish. (And in fact, I couldn't tell if the German versions sounded that similar to Nat King Cole's version of Nature Boy).

So this is about as far as I got with this --- not sure if the German connection is a dead end or perhaps a bread crumb. Good luck!
posted by mean square error at 7:40 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

This article says sadly, "There is no evidence that “Shvayg Mayn Harts” was ever recorded."

For further searching, there is some extant sheet music that uses the alternate spelling "Schweig mein hartz".
posted by Gordafarin at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The title should be "שווײַג מיין האַרץ" in Yiddish, but Google says "No results found." Furthermore, in this extensive list of Yablokoff's compositions, there is nothing similar. (I found a song Shvayg Hertsele [Be silent, little heart] -- שווײַג הערטסעלע, but that's by someone else, Seymour Rechtzeit.) This is pretty strange, and I can't help but think that somewhere along the line the name got mangled.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: FAU has a copy of the score, as did JTS. JTS purged much of their library last year, so I wouldn't count on it still being there. Harvard also has a bunch of Yablokoff scores, but hasn't recorded which ones. I checked all the major Jewish sound archives, and they don't seem to have a recording.

Do you read Yiddish? Yablokoff wrote a memoir that has been digitized by the Yiddish Book Center. If you're interested in learning more about him, that would be the major source.
posted by femmegrrr at 8:07 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update! Thank you everyone for your suggestions -- I used the "Scan and Deliver" service for my library to get a PDF of the sheet music! If anyone would like a copy to play, please MeMail me. It's arranged for piano and voice.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:41 AM on February 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would absolutely love to hear this. If you or anyone manages to play it, pleasy please please upload a recording, I don't care how iPhone mic-y it is!!
posted by greenish at 10:19 AM on February 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding that - I can't read music but would love to hear it sometime.
posted by Mchelly at 10:20 AM on February 22, 2017

« Older Daily White House Protest During Lunch?   |   Bring me your finest examples of Nazis getting... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.