Üsküdara - Fel shara - Terk in America - Et cetera

History of a Turkish tune that travelled a lot

PLAYLIST below

According to the musicologist Judith Cohen [1] , Üsküdara giderik’en is a song taken from a Turkish operetta of the end of the 19th century. A young girl takes a walk in Üsküdar (Asian neighborhood of Istanbul) and finds a handkerchief that belongs, she thinks, to her lover. She fills it with traditional candy. Still very popular in Turkey, the song was translated or adapted in dozens of languages (Judeo-Spanish, Serbian, Croationa, Greek, Arabic, Italian, Hebrew…), and is sung as much by Jews and non-Jews in varied events (watch the documentary Whose is this Song ?).

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Partition, en turc

In North Africa, theis song that blends Arabic, French, English, Italian, is known by the name Fel shara. In that version, the lover is mistreated by his mistress, who hits him with her umbrella. People liked so much that tune that it was taken tyo sing several Sabbath or pilgrimage prayers.

This melody also inspired American klezmer music, with a recorded version by Naftule Branwein in 1924 with the name Der terk in America. Terkish is a 4 step piece with oriental style, played on a rhythm close to the Greek syrtos, the Turkish tsiftetelli or even the Spanish habaneira [2].
Finally, electro music also used the theme, with in particular a revisited version by Anakronic Electro Orkestra.

1. A section of this text is taken from the booklet of Judith Cohen’s CD, Dans mon chemin j’ai rencontré, published in 1997 by the music label Transit.
2. See Michel Borzykowski, La musique klezmer en bref, http://borzykowski.users.ch/MCKlezmer.htm#terkish

Terk in America : Youtube Tutorial below



Watch an excerpts of the documentary Whose is this song ?

Songs details of the playlist :
1a. Üsküdara gider’iken, original Turkish version sang by Judith Cohen
1b. Selanik entero : Judeo-Spanish version, Judith Cohen
1c. Apo kseno topo : Greek version, Judith Cohen
2. Poletyela dva goluba : Bosnian version (The doves arrive to Ali Osman’s tavern), Judith Cohen
3. Fel Shara : Alexandria, Judith Cohen
4. Uskudara and Tcherni otchi, Judeos-Spanish version and Bulgarian polyphony, sang by the Balkanes
5. Der Terk in America, Naftule Brandwein (1924)
6. Yodou’ha Raayonaye (traditional Sabbath song), Samy Elmaghribi
7. Ephtah’ Pi Bé Rina (Pilgrimage song in honor of Rabbi Méir Baal Ha Ness of Tibériade), Moshé Dweck
8. Terk in America, Anakronic Electro Orkestra

Uskudara Gider’iken_Selanik Entero_Apo Kseno Topo_Judith Cohen
Poletyela Dva Goluba - Judith Cohen

Uskudara et Tcherni otchi (EXTRAIT) - Balkanes sefarades
Der Terk in America - Naftule Brandwein
Yodou’ha Raayonaye (EXTRAIT) - Samy Elmaghribi
Ephtah’ Pi Bé Rina (EXTRAIT) - Moshé Dweck
Terk in America (EXTRAIT) - Anakronic Electro Orkestra

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  • Uskudara Gider’iken_Selanik Entero_Apo Kseno Topo_Judith Cohen

  • Poletyela Dva Goluba - Judith Cohen

  • Fel Shara - Judith Cohen

  • Uskudara et Tcherni otchi (EXTRAIT) - Balkanes sefarades

  • Der Terk in America - Naftule Brandwein

  • Yodou’ha Raayonaye (EXTRAIT) - Samy Elmaghribi

  • Ephtah’ Pi Bé Rina (EXTRAIT) - Moshé Dweck

  • Terk in America (EXTRAIT) - Anakronic Electro Orkestra

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