A performance of the Yiddish classic, "Dona Dona," on the 'Jewish Entertainment Hour,' a cable show broadcast out of New York City, in 2001.
I grew up singing the ENGLISH version made popular by Joan Baez at summer camp. It wasn't until I was an adult and discovered Eastern European Jewish Music (= often referred to as "Klezmer" music) and started studying Yiddish that I learned that the song was actually originally written in Yiddish for the Yiddish Theatre.
Accompanying me on piano is New York's AMAZING pianist, arranger, composer, and musical director, Alex Rybeck.
"Donna Donna" (דאָנאַ דאָנאַ "Dana Dana", דאָס קעלבל "Dos Kelbl") was a very popular song in America, and also in a number of other countries, for example, in Japan it has long been sung in schools.
The song was written as "Dana Dana" in Yiddish, for the musical play "Esterke" (1940-1941); words written by Aaron Zeitlin, music written by Sholom Secunda. Both of them were Jews, and the song was written in days of Nazism. The song was prohibited in South Korea as a communist song .
The first translation into English was made by Secunda himself but did not become popular. The song in English became well known as "Donna Donna" when it was translated approximately in 1956 by Arthur Kevess and Teddi Schwartz. The song became especially popular after the performance of Joan Baez in 1960 and Donovan in 1965, and was even featured on "More Chad & Jeremy", a Capitol Records compilation of standards sung by the British duo.
The song has been translated into many other languages including German, French, Japanese, Hebrew, and Russian.
The song has been sung by many singers including André Zweig, Joan Baez, Donovan, Chava Alberstein, Esther Ofarim, Theodore Bikel, Karsten Troyke, Hélène Rollès in duet with Dorothée, Claude François, and Russian ensemble of the Jewish songs on Yiddish "Dona". Lisa Fishman also commands an amazing opera version aired on the Jewish Entertainment Hour, which is a cable show broadcast out of New York City, in 2001. It can also be found on the soundtrack to the anime "Revolutionary Girl Utena".