THIS IS A SONG FROM A MUSICAL IN 1916. JEWISH IMMIGRANTS FLEEING THE POGROMS IN EUROPE CAME BY THE MILLIONS AND EXPRESSED THEIR GRATITUDE AND FRUSTRATIONS IN IRONY, JOKES, SONGS AND BOOKS. COLUMBUS DID DISCOVER THIS MOST GLORIOUS NATION IN THE WORLD WHERE JEWS HAVE THRIVED…HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY EVERYBODY!!! RSK
Lebn zol kolumbus Long Live Columbus! Arnold Perlmutter and Herman Wohl
From the musical comedy, Der grine milyoner, this song reflects—through tongue-in-cheek irony—the darker hues of the early 20th-century immigrant experience. Though omitted from the original production, an earlier version of the song referenced the infamous Leo Frank case.
By: Neil W. Levin
Lebn zol kolumbus (Long Live Columbus!), which expresses a primitive platitudinous side of immigrant enthusiasm for the “new land” and its supposed beckoning socioeconomic opportunities, has remained an adjunct of the genre of humorous American Yiddish popular songs ever since its introduction and immediate success in 1915. The song is from an early staged musical comedy, Der grine milyoner (The New Millionaire), produced in New York in 1915 with a book by Abraham S. Schomer, who claimed to have based it on an actual 1894 incident. Boris Thomashefsky played the role of the hero, Zalmen Puterknop, and he also wrote the lyrics for Lebn zol kolumbus, for which the songwriting team of Arnold Perlmutter and Herman Wohl provided the music. (The song was first published in 1915 with those attributions, but a 1918 publication claimed Louis Gilrod as the lyricist. No satisfactory explanation has been offered, since only the first few words differ.) Authorship of other songs in the show, or even their titles, has yet to be established. The plot is a bit coarse and transparently stereotypical, as are some of the characterizations. Zalmen is a poor immigrant who has come to America in advance of his wife and family. Back in his hometown, Motol, a son of the wealthiest Jew there, Reb Zimel, is in love with Zalmen’s daughter. But Reb Zimel will sanction no such marriage to an indigent young woman. Then Zalmen’s wife receives a letter from Zalmen with the generous sum of fifty dollars and a picture of himself in a borrowed suit. The letter leads her to infer, and then to boast, that he has become prosperous in coal, lumber, ice, and related businesses—when in fact he lives with a roommate in a tiny coal cellar and only works as a deliveryman for these commodities. Reb Zimel quickly changes his tune and facilitates the marriage.
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