Sunday 22 July 2018


YITSKHOK PIROZHNIKOV (May 8, 1859-June 14, 1933)
            He was born on the island of Khortits (Khortytsia), on the Dnieper River (the former Zaporozhian Sich), Ukraine.  He attended religious elementary school until age thirteen.  From childhood, he demonstrated a facility with music.  He later studied at the Warsaw Conservatory.  He went on to be conductor and musical director of the Jewish teachers’ institute in Vilna.  He introduced a new, easier method for how to play a concertina.  His method was adopted in all Russian teaching institutions and seminaries, and it also aroused recognition in Europe and the United States.  In 1900 he opened in Vilna a print shop with his own Yiddish book publishing house.  In Yiddish he brought twenty-four small, five-kopek “Barihmte ertsehlungen” (Famous stories) from Russian and French literature.  He was the author of: Hagode shel peysekh, mit zhargonisher iberzetsung, mit prakhtbilder fun gustav dore…un oykh a peysekhdik lidele khad-gadye mit notn in zhargonishe ferzn (The Passover Haggadah, with Yiddish translation, with marvelous pictures by Gustave Dore…and also a little Passover song, “An Only Kid,” with notations in Yiddish verses) (Vilna, 1901), 58 pp.; Der idisher shprakh-lehrer, a praktisher lehrbukh tsu lernen onfangs-kinder lezen un shrayben idish (zhargon) (The Yiddish language textbook, a practical textbook to teach beginning children to read and write Yiddish [zhargon]) (Vilna, 1907), 20 pp.; Reshit mikra, a praktisher lehrbukh tsu lernen onfangs-kinder (First recitation, a practical textbook for teaching beginning children), two parts—(1) Zogen ivri (loshn-koydesh) (Speaking Hebrew), 32 pp.; (2) Lezen un shrayben zhargon (ivre-taytsh) (Reading and writing Yiddish), 20 pp.—(Vilna, 1906); Idishe shprikhverter nokh’n inyen nokh geteylt (Yiddish sayings, topically arranged) (Vilna, 1908), 156 pp.; Gedanken un ferzen un aforizmen (Thoughts and verses and aphorisms) (New York, 1925), 57 pp.; only half of his “Verterbukh fun hebreizmen vos vern gebroykht in der yidisher shprakh” (Dictionary of Hebraisms that have been brought into the Yiddish language) was published, and the rest remained with the proofreader.  He translated into Yiddish: Leonid Andreyev’s Mentshn-libe (Love of men [original (possibly): Liubovk blizhnemu (Love of one’s neighbor)]) and Anton Chekhov’s Shvanen-lid (Swans’ song [original: Lebedinaya pesnya]) which were staged in Vilna in 1910.  In 1912 he settled in New York, where he wrote for: Varhayt (Truth), Tsukunft (Future), and Dos naye vort (The new word).  He became editor of the music section of Forverts (Forward), in which he was also in charge of a special column entitled “Antvortn af fragn vegn muzik” (Answers to questions about music).  He was also a cofounder of the first Yiddish singing association at the Workmen’s Circle in New York.  He composed the texts to fifty children’s poems for singing and a similar number for adults, as well as texts for Hassidic melodies.  He wrote Yiddish poetry and translated into Russian the poems of Avrom Reyzen, Yehoash, H. Royzenblat, Y. Yofe, Morris Winchevsky, Ḥ. N. Bialik, and Morris Rosenfeld.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 3 (New York, 1959); Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle), ed. Y. Yeshurin and Y. Sh. Herts (New York, 1962), p. 298; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog (New York) (June 23, 1933); Y. P. Kats, in Tsukunft (New York) (August 1933)
Benyomen Elis

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