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Solomon Small

Solomon Smulewitz (1868–1943, also Shloyme Smulewitz, Solomon Small) was a Russian-born (later American) Jewish singer, badkhn, recording artist, and primarily composer for the Yiddish theatre. He was born on April 13, 1868 in Pinsk, White Russia (now Belarus)

His father was a cantor; Solomon sang in his chorus from the age of 5. When his father died seven years later Solomon went into the tailoring trade while still singing in cantorial choirs in exchange for his meals. He left to join the chorus of a traveling theater troupe and was very successful in girls' roles. After being left behind in an inn as a mashkn (pledge that the others would come back and pay their bill) he went back to the cantor in Pinsk but was thrown out. He became a street singer.

He wrote his first song at the age of 12: The desolate orphan, an autobiographical plaint. Having learned Russian he sang and played the fiddle from town to town, finally settling in Minsk, where he became a successful badkhn, also writing songs for other local wedding singers. He wrote for Shomer's play productions in Warsaw. He published his first book in 1891.

In America he toured singing his own songs, which eventually totalled around 500 (in a letter to the press he claimed 300 written to his own melodies and 200 set to melodies by others). The most famous were A brivele der mamen, Dos talesl, Al tashlicheinu, Khave, and Dos blumenkrentzele - these and others have through the years often been considered folksongs.

From 1905 to 1909 he issued a yearly collection of his lyrics called "Der teater zinger." In 1916 he published "Poeziye un lider." His 500-page autobiography was never published. His song "Khave" was so popular the famous Russian singer Feodor_Chaliapin included it in his repertoire. He was a prolific recording artist.

Smulewitz had a strong and piercing tenor voice which suited early recording capabilities well; after 1920 both his manner of singing and style of composition went out of fashion. Smulewitz fell on hard times and to make a living continuously toured the United States and Canada from Halifax to Calgary and Winnipeg, often with his daughter Dorothy, without much success. He died impoverished on January 1, 1943 in New York.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 13th, 1868 (Pinsk), Died January 1st, 1943 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1904 - 1936

Roles Represented in DAHR: tenor vocal, lyricist, composer

Recordings (Results 51-69 of 69 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 3172 10-in. ca. Jan.-May 1905 Donkey monkey business Solomon Smulewitz Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 3208 10-in. ca. Jan.-Sept. 1905 Die seder nacht Goldin Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist  
Columbia 4839 approximately 1910 Der Herring Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 4840 ca. 1910 Sof ganef litlio Solomon Small Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 4842 10-in. ca. 1910 Ihr seit a greener Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal, composer, lyricist  
Columbia 19238 10-in. 2/17/1911 Al tashlichenu Hyman Adler Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Columbia 38230 10-in. 8/30/1912 Der nasser kaver Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 38231 10-in. 8/30/1912 Der naser kehver Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 38232 10-in. 8/30/1912 A brivele tsu Got (א בריוועלע צו גאָט) Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal, composer, lyricist  
Columbia 38233 10-in. 8/30/1912 A brivele tsu Got (א בריוועלע צו גאָט) Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal, lyricist, composer  
Columbia 38234 10-in. 8/30/1912 A brivele von Russland Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal, composer, lyricist  
Columbia 38235 10-in. 8/30/1912 A brivele von Russland Solomon Small Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, tenor vocal, lyricist, composer  
Columbia 39232 10-in. 2/11/1914 Layden und fraiden Meyer Kanewsky Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Columbia 39234 10-in. 2/11/1914 A mames ṿerṭh Meyer Kanewsky Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Columbia 39398 10-in. 5/22/1914 Yom Kipur zu minche Meyer Kanewsky Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Columbia 45511 10-in. 4/1/1915 Eishes chail Mischa Ferenzo Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Columbia 45580 10-in. 4/24/1915 Dos bisele glik (דאס ביסעלע גליק) Kalman Juvelier Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Brunswick 6221 10-in. approximately Aug. 1921 Al Tashlichenu Estelle Schreiner Female vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Brunswick E31282 10-in. 10/22/1929 A mame’s trehren Jennie Goldstein Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
(Results 51-69 of 69 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Small, Solomon," accessed October 22, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110456.

Small, Solomon. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110456.

"Small, Solomon." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 22 October 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110456

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