Hora bătrânească (“Old Fashioned Hora”) The hora is the most beloved national dance of Romania. This song is from around the Prut River, which separates Romania from Moldova and Ukraine. Performed by American musician Mazurka Wojciechowska. This song was introduced to unsuspecting American audiences in the show “Peek-A-Boo! An Ooky-Spooky Halloween Burlesque” in October, 2009. It was a hit, and, as emcee Mister Bones (the inimitable Chris Biddle) put it, “a little touch of class in our T&A show!”
The real title of this song is Červená sukýnka, The Red Skirt. It became popular in the U.S., thanks to Frankie Yankovic, just as the Cold War was beginning. Anything red was looked upon with suspicion, so Maestro Yankovic changed the text and title and it became The Blue Skirt Waltz. The original Czech text tells of a girl who has a beautiful red skirt just like her mother used to wear years ago. The song is still popular with Czechs and Czech-Americans.
A okolo Levoči/Around Levoča, a town in the Spiš region of Slovakia, is one of the most beloved Slovak folk songs. The song originates in the town of Kluknava in the Šariš region in Eastern Slovakia (“Spieva Janka Guzová “, © 1995 Akcent, Bratislava, p. 19). Performed by American musician Mazurka Wojciechowska. The regional dialect is similar to Polish, so if you understand Polish you should be able to figure out the words of this song. To paraphrase: “Around [the town of] Levoča, water is swirling. Whoever doesn’t have a boyfriend, jump in.”
“Are you NUTS?”
Folk song from Sǎlaj County, Transilvania, Romania performed by Chicago musician Mazurka Wojciechowska. You left the village, young man, and you didn’t look back. Now come the hard times. I will cry every day. You thought I would never forget you, well, you were wrong. I have gotten you out of my mind. I won’t meet you in the road, not on the hill nor in the valley. I’ll leave you in peace, go live your life the way you want. When you are sad, listen to my songs. I’ll sing for everybody except you.
A rather bawdy Polish folk song from the region of Nowy Sącz. Note the non-standard dialect, also 3-bar phrases in the verses. I learned this song in Poland from Wanda Miechur of Nowy Sącz. The tune in the interlude is “Podegrodzka wioska”. “You bit me, doggie, you bit right through my shoe and stocking. It hurt so bad I called on Johnny. ‘Come, Johnny, rub some salve on my leg and I’ll give you a little kiss.’ Katie’s leg hurt so bad that she cried. Her beloved Johnny comforted her and then proceeded to seduce her.” Camera: Valerie Glowinski
Folk song from Hrubá Vrbka, Czech Republic. The great Moravian folk singer Luboš Holý (1930 – 2011) recorded this song on the album Žijí v písni (Supraphon, 1980). This video is a tribute to Luboš Holý, who was one of my favorite Moravian folk artists and one of the very first voices I heard when I began researching Czech and Slovak folk music. “Get up, Kate, you have suitors outside.” “What do I care about those yahoos outside when I have Johnny right here with me?” Camera: Valerie Glowinski
Three tunes from Vizovice, Eastern Moravia, Czech Republic: Kdo chce za milú; Zahrajte ňe, muzigánti; Hory boly, hory sú. (Whoever Wants to Chase his Sweetheart;, Play for me, Musicians; Mountains are Eternal) Note the rapid harmonic progressions, irregular phrasing and Lydian mode.