This CD is comprised of songs from the Kiselgof archive, the largest musical record of Jewish life in pre-World War I Eastern Europe. The songs on this CD represent a part of Jewish civilization that was lost in the Holocaust. Hava Nagila was one of these lost songs. In 1908 Joel Engel and Lazare Saminsky founded the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music and were joined by other Jewish musicians and composition students from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1909 an expedition to collect Jewish folk songs was funded by the society and led by Susman Kiselgof. This was the first ethnographic expedition into Jewish Eastern Europe. During the expedition the ethnographers used edison wax cylinders to record a diverse variety of music from Jews living in the Pale of Settlement and beyond. On return to St. Petersburg the members of the society transcribed the music from over 1000 wax cylinders. Hava Nagila, For Real is the first modern recording that comes directly from these transcriptions.
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At the bottom of the page, the song entitled 'A Freilechs,' is the first part of the original transcription of the Chasidic melody which later was changed to become the modern hit 'Hava Nagila.' The Kiselgof archive is comprised of over 1600 similar pages.