Instrumental performance of Hava Nagila
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|Music for Holidays|
“Hava Nagila” (הבה נגילה Havah Nagilah, "Let us rejoice") is an Israeli folk song. It is perhaps the first modern Israeli folk song in the Hebrew language that has become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. It was composed in 1920s Palestine at a time when Hebrew was first being revived as a spoken language for the first time in 2,000 years (in other words, since 70 CE, the destruction of the Second Temple). For the first time, Palestinian Jews were being encouraged to speak Hebrew as a common language, instead of Yiddish, Arabic, Ladino, or other regional Jewish languages.
Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, a professor at Hebrew University, began cataloging all known Jewish music and teaching classes in musical composition. One of his students was a promising cantorial student, Moshe Nathanson, who later worked in New York, most famously composing the nearly-universal melody that is sung with the Birkat Hamazon ("Grace After Meals"). Idelson presented the class with a 19th-century, slow, melodious, chant (niggun) assigning the class to add rhythm and words in order to fashion a modern Hebrew song.
The niggun is attributed to the Sidigorer Chassidim, who lived in what is now Ukraine. It uses the Phrygian dominant scale common in music of Transylvania. The commonly used text was probably refined by Idelsohn in 1918 as one of the first songs designed to unite the early Yishuv [Jewish enterprise] that arose after the British victory in Palestine during World War I and the Balfour Declaration, declaring a national Jewish homeland in the lands newly liberated from Turkey by the Allies and entrusted to Britain under the Treaty of Versailles. Although Psalm 118 (verse 24) of the Hebrew Bible may have been a source for the text of "Hava Nagila", the expression of the song and its accompanying hora ("circle") dance was entirely secular in its outlook.
|Transliteration||Hebrew text||English translation|
|Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa||
הבה נגילה ונשמחה
|Let's rejoice and be happy|
|Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa||
הבה נרננה ונשמחה
|Let's sing and be happy|
|Uru, uru aḥim!||
!עורו, עורו אחים
|Awake, awake, brothers!|
|Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ||
עורו אחים בלב שמח
|Awake brothers with a happy heart|
|(repeat line four times)|
|Uru aḥim, uru aḥim!||
!עורו אחים, עורו אחים
|Awake, brothers, awake, brothers!|
|With a happy heart|
||This section contains embedded lists that may be poorly defined, unverified or indiscriminate. (August 2013)|
- Idelsohn produced the first commercial recording in 1922 on the Polyphon Record label as part of a series which recorded 39 Hebrew folk songs.
Although "Hava Nagila" was known among Jews (particularly the more secular-oriented Zionist organizations) and became a staple at weddings and bar mitzvahs, its explosive popularity was triggered by the unexpected victory of Israel in its 1948 War of Independence, a war in which the nascent state was expected to be annihilated by five invading armies. The Weavers started the trend of mainstreaming the songs of the newly emergent State of Israel with their recording of "Tzena, Tzena" which they rode to the top of the charts. "Hava Nagila" soon followed into 1950s radio.
- Singer Harry Belafonte is known for his version of the song which was recorded for his album Belafonte at Carnegie Hall in 1959. He rarely gave a concert without singing it and stated that his two “stand out” songs are “The Banana Boat Song” and “Hava Nagila”. Belafonte explained: “Life is not worthwhile without it. Most Jews in America learned that song from me.” Such a claim has not been verified. Belafonte's version is also used in a comedy scene in the Tamil movie Mozhi.
- Alma Cogan
- Irving Fields
- Josephine Baker recorded a version during her Havana sessions
- Frank Slay recorded an instrumental rock 'n' roll arrangement titled "Flying Circle" that was a #45 U.S. hit in 1962.
- Chubby Checker
- Conjunto Quisqueya recorded a Merengue version
- Connie Francis
- Dick Dale and the Del Tones (surf rock)
- Vigen Derderian
- Glen Campbell
- Celia Cruz 
- Bob Dylan
- Lena Horne
- Jon Lord of Deep Purple included Hava Nagila in his solo keyboard improvisations before 'You Fool No one' track..)))... in concert, as heard on Made in Europe (1975).
- Jeff Garlin sings Hava Nagila in the feature film Daddy Day Care
- Elvis Presley
- Neil Diamond, in addition to having performed Hava Nagila in such of his shows as his 1994 Live In America concert, incorporated it into a memorable scene in the 1980 version of The Jazz Singer, in which he acted out a cantor with popular-music ambitions.
- Brave Combo
- American thrash metal band Anthrax sampled "Hava Nagila"'s main melody at the beginning of their song I'm the Man.
- Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica usually ends its shows performing a humorous song, usually referred to as The Vodka Song, played on the tune of Hava Nagila.
- At a sold-out show in Tel Aviv, Israel on June 16, 2009, American progressive metal band Dream Theater performed a cover of "Hava Nagila".
- Regina Spektor includes a performance of the song as the outro of her song "The Flowers".
- The Spotnicks (instrumental rock)
- moe. Dr. Stan's Prescription Pt. 1
- Me First and the Gimme Gimmes played two versions of the song on their album Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah.
- Merima Njegomir, notable Serbian folk singer
- Rebecca Pan (潘迪華)
- The Smothers Brothers; Tom Smothers sang a very credible presentation on their Think Ethnic LP under the name "Venezuelan Rain Dance", in spite of the inane comments and harassment from his brother Dick.
Usage in sports
- Ajax Amsterdam
Supporters of the Dutch association football club AFC Ajax, although not an official Jewish club, commonly use Jewish imagery. A central part of Ajax fans' culture, the song Hava Nagila can often be heard sung in the Stadium by the teams supporters, and at one point ringtones of "Hava Nagila", could even be downloaded from the club's official website.
- Tottenham Hotspur
Supporters of the English football club Tottenham Hotspur commonly refer to themselves as Yids and are strongly associated with Jewish symbolism and culture. The song "Hava Nagila" has been adopted as an anthem of sorts by the club, and is one of the most frequently sung songs at White Hart Lane.
|1994||Lilia Podkopayeva||Gymnastics||1994 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships|
|1995–1997||Tony Yeboah||Football||all season long|
|1998–1999||Evgeni Plushenko||Figure skating||all season long|
|1999–2000||Maurizio Margaglio||Figure skating||all season long|
|1999–2000||Barbara Fusar-Poli||Figure skating||all season long|
|2000||Yekaterina Lobaznyuk||Gymnastics||2000 Sydney Olympics|
|2000–2001||Irina Lobacheva||Figure skating||all season long|
|2000–2001||Ilia Averbukh||Figure skating||all season long|
|2002–2003||Alina Kabaeva||Rhythmic Gymnastics||all season long|
|2004–2005||Daisuke Murakami||Figure skating||all season long|
|2007–2008||Wang Chen||Figure skating||all season long|
|2007–2008||Yu Xiaoyang||Figure skating||all season long|
|2009–2010||Roman Zaretsky||Figure skating||all season long|
|2009–2010||Alexandra Zaretsky||Figure skating||all season long|
|2010||Sandra Izbasa||Gymnastics||all season long|
|2011–2012||Aly Raisman||Gymnastics||2011 CoverGirl Classic through Floor gold medal performance at 2012 London Olympics|
|2011–2012||Israeli Team||Rhythmic Gymnastics||all season long|
|2012||Neta Rivkin||Rhythmic Gymnastics||all season long|
- Yudelson, Larry. "Who wrote Havah Nagilah?". RadioHazak. Larry Yudelson. Archived from the original on 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- In an appearance on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs on 28 October 2007, Idelsohn's grandson Joel Joffe referred to his grandfather as the author of "Hava Nagila", but in the programme notes it says "Composer: Bashir Am Israelim", meaning that either this is an alias for Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, to whom Joffe was clearly referring in the programme, or (more plausibly) the programme notes contain a mistranscription of "Shir Am Yisraeli", meaning "Israeli folksong".
- Joffe: Abraham Zvi Idelsohn at seligman.org.il
- "Hava Nagila, What Is It? (Part I)" at YouTube[unreliable source?]
- Leland, John. Hip: The History, HarperCollins, 2004, p. 206.
- Conjunto Quisqueya - Hava Nagila (1978) at YouTube
- "Set Lists 1968 to 1976". The Highway Star. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- Raphael sings "Hava Nagila" at YouTube
- Neo Cheezy (2007) at YouTube
- Dalida: Hava nagila 2, at YouTube
- Neil Diamond Live In America 1994, at Youtube
- "Hava Nagila Twist", on The Hokey Pokey:Organized Dancing (1991)
- "Hava Nagila" by Sonata Arctica in a Tokyo concert at YouTube
- Dream Theater: vídeo de música judaica no show em Israel, luew, 19/06/09
- Amsterdam Journal; A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews, The New York Times, 28 March 2005.
- Hava Nagila! – Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, 15 October 2013
- 'Waar komt de geuzennaam 'Joden' toch vandaan?', Het Parool, 1 February 2014.
- Promised Land: A Northern Love Story – Anthony Clavane, 12 February 2014
- The Yid Army’s chants turn anti-semitism into kitsch banter, Financial Times, 20 September 2013.
- Kvelling for Aly Raisman on Salon. Retrieved 8 August 20112
- Hava Nagila's Long, Strange Trip at My Jewish Learning
- Hora Music, How do you sing and dance "Hava Nagila" - lyrics and steps
- Who wrote "Havah Nagilah"?
- Hava Nagila at HebrewSongs.com
- Discogs search for other remakes of "Hava Nagila"
- Historical research includes first recording of Hava Nagila
- Romani version of "Hava Nagila" (Aven, rromalen)
- "Hava Nagilah", What Is It?
- Harry Belafonte sings "Hava Nagila" with Danny Kaye (1966) on YouTube