Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Shlomo Prizament


Born on 6 September 1889 in Uhanov (Hibinev), Galicia. His father was Moyshe Prizament, a famous badkhan, who used the name "Moyshe Hibiner."

At the age of seven he moved with his family to Lemberg, where he learned until the age of twelve in a yeshiva, and studied other subjects, especially German, privately.

From his early youth he manifested a desire for music, especially the influence of Chone Wolfstat's Yiddish theatre music. At age sixteen, he became an orphan after his father died, and in order to gain income for his remaining twelve children at home, he was forced to become a badkhan, taking advantage of his father's tools/scripts. After devoting himself to badkhanut for two years, and debuting even earlier in Gershom Bader's "calendar," he too to writing songs and music for Yiddish theatre (especially for Saltche Weinberg and Pepi Littman), git oyf the badkhanut and became a conductor in Ber Hart's provincial troupe, where he also wrote music for the songs in the performed operetta.

His first composition to a complete operetta was for Lateiner's operetta "Khosn-Kale (Groom and Bride)" (performed in New York with couplets, by Mogulesko, and music by Friedsell), staged in Krakow under the direction of Yidl Gutman.

By accident he filled a role in the troupe), giving him the role to play of "Shemai" in Gordin's "Jewish King Lear," and since then he has remained an actor, spending less time with orchestral conducting.

In 1910 he became the conductor of the national Ukrainian theatre "Besida," but soon due to family concerns, he left and took to traveling with provincial troupes across Galicia and then, together with K. M. Ebell, went off to Argentina, where he wrote in "Yidisher soykher (Jewish Merchant)."

In 1912 he performed as a comic and regisseur under Meltzer's direction in Romania, and he also participated with Dina Feinman in Gordin repertoire.

During the Romanian-Bulgarian war, he was expelled as an alien from Romania, and he returned to Galicia, where he performed with small breaks in the troupe of Glimer and his brother Jacob Prizament, until the outbreak of the First World War.

As a soldier he was active on the Russian and Italian fronts, and in 1918 he arrived in Vienna, where he opened the "Bemishn Haf," a Yiddish theatre, and there he staged his play "The Destruction of Lemberg." Due to a denunciation, he lost his concession to perform, and he traveled to Budapest, where he became during the Bela-Kuhn period, Commissar of the Jewish worker's stage, and afterwards he united with the troupe of Shtramer, Rabinowitz, Vayts, Stein, and performed there until the Horthy government forbade Yiddish theatre. Now he traveled, returning to Vienna and opened there, under his artistic management, a miniature theatre, where he performed most of his things. Here he also composed, together with Avish Meyzels, the play "The Golem of Prague" (Sh. Prizament and A. Meyzels. Der golem. Play in three acts. Publisher Sh. Goldfarb, Warsaw, 32 pp., 16). In text, it was given as a "musical legend in four acts.)

In 1920 he founded, together with Zachariah Francis (sp) and Itzhak Mestel in Pressburg (Bratislava), Czechoslovakia, the troupe "HaOr" (see "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," V. 1, p. 572), which disbanded in 1922.

In 1923 he arrived in Poland, and there he founded a troupe under the name of "HaOr." However, after meeting Gizi Hajdn. who became his wife, he organized another troupe, and in 1924-1925 he founded, along with Hersh Hart, a troupe for the Galician province. In 1925 he guest-starred in Warsaw in the "Kaminska" Theatr," and there he stayed for a season. At the same time he wrote music and songs for the operetta "Di galitsianer mume (The Galician Aunt[?])" and for Moshe Richter's "Di tsvey shvigers (The Two Mothers-in-Law)."

In 1927 he joined the "Sambatiyon," where he composed the music (and also several songs) to Nozyk's revues, "Dirh-noyt," "Der rebe hot geheysn freylekh zayn," "Vu nemt men a khasen?" and "Nokh havdalah." In 1928 he joined the "Azazel-Sambatiyon" ensemble as a musical director, and after the disbanding of the ensemble he traveled to Romania, where he performed in the local Yidish theatre (also in a revue theatre_ and acted afterwards again in Vienna and later in Poland.

In 1933 he composed a play "In Hitler-Land," which was performed in Warsaw's "Kaminska Theatre."

In the summer of 1938 he performed in Lemberg's summer theatre in Richard Foss' play "Shrey, Israel," and then associated himself with the guest-starring troupe there "Vik't," for which he adapted the music to Goldfaden's "Shulamis," which was put on there in a new adaptation of Zygmunt Turkow. About the music, Israel Ashendorf writes:

"Shlomo Prizament, with great prudence and love, had created intermezzos, a part melody combined with his, a part rhythmic and adapted for dance. He played very much a large part in the success of the production."

P. also adapted for the same troupe the music to the modernized production of Goldfaden's "Bar Kochba," about which Dr. Leib Hammer writes:

"Shlomo Prizament had preserved Goldfaden's music to 'Bar Kochba," but farfeynert, connected it together with rhythmic sounds and created the music getrey the Goldfaden-like soul to the new image, which was first to come together."

Also a production was advertised for a Goldfaden play "Broder-Singer," adapted by Israel Ashendorf with P.'s music.

P. has composed the following plays:

"Lemberg far der melkhome (Lemberg Before the War)"; "A moyd fun provints (A Girl From the Province/Sticks)," adapted from the German, with music, which was performed in Czernowitz, had translated "Muter un tokhter (Mother and Daughter) by Paul Hause, had writen music and songs to "Shloymele Sheygets" by Shtshorgol, "Di blumen kenigin" by Shtshogol, "Dos arendars tokhter" by Leib Drucker, "Lah'kes mazel" by Leib Drucker, "Dos kabaretn-meydl" by Leib Drucker, and "Khli-zmr," after Gurewitz, as well as illustrated music to Sholem Asch's "Der toyter mensh," Peretz's "In polish oyf der keyt," Foss' "Daniel Danieli," Dr. Fistner's "Dem bel-shm's mufs," Kalmanowitz's "Eybike naranis," "Moshe, vos krichstu?" and "Yukl dem khazan's," to A. Nager's "Lustike yugnt," and adapted and wrote music to 'Oyf der shvel fun glik."

He also composed several hundred songs and couplets. The most popular of them were: "Fannie's Mplh," "Davenen fun eyn mkhzur'l," "Sha, Sha, der rebbe geyt" (from which the music was, without the knowledge of P.., used in a "musical comedy" on Broadway), "A shpilekhl," "Moshiakh flit," "Der rebbe hoydet zikh," "Doktor shteynakh."

During the Second World War, P. survived by escaping to the Soviet Union.

M. E.

  • Y. G. Sh. -- Fir -- A yidishe operetn-trupe vos fardint a por vareme verter, "Dos naye lebn," Bialystok, 22 March 1929.

  • L. Dreykurs -- An'aktuele teaqter-piese "In Hitler-Land," "Unzer ekspres," Warsaw, 11 May 1933.

  • Israel Ashendorf -- Di shulamis-oyffirung baym "Vikt" in lemberg, "Literarishe bleter," Warsaw, 1, 1939.

  • Dr. Leib Hammer -- Premiere "Bar Kochba" in "Vikt," "Literarishe bleter," Warsaw, 11, 1939.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 1873.

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