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Modern Discography (Sample)

This site currently provides survey articles covering the first hundred years of recorded Sephardic music, and then focuses intensively on 78-era recordings, songs, artists and labels. A future version could provide similar in-depth coverage of "modern era" recordings, i.e., LPs, cassettes, CDs, and now, downloads too. (Click here if you would like to support this effort!) Eventually this site will offer information on over 2,000 recordings and over 10,000 song samples, covering virtually the entire recorded corpus of Sephardic music. This appendix provides a sample of what the entire site could some day offer, by focusing in detail on the popular Sephardic song A la una and its recordings. I selected A la una for several reasons:

  • It represents over 1% of all recorded Sephardic songs (perhaps exceeded only by Cuando el Rey Nimrod and Los Bilbilicos)
  • Its popularity has held up consistently for decades. (1)
  • I was able to support research by Professsor Edwin Seroussi into the song's history by providing over 125 different version.

Song Research

The site will list research into particular songs. For A la Una the most detailed study is surely Edwin Seroussi's "From Spain to the Eastern Mediterranean and Back: A Song as a Metaphor of Modern Sephardi Culture" It painstakingly recounts a history of the song's two principal versions, exemplified in recordings by Haim Effendi ♪ and Gloria Levy ♪. Other research includes Attias, 1972 and Katz, 1995.

Sample Lyrics

A la una yo naci
A las dos me engrandecí
A las tres tenía amante
A las cuatro me casí.
Me casí con un amor

Dime niña donde vienes
Que te quiero conocer
Y si tu no tienes amante
Yo te haré defender

Yéndome para la guerra
Dos bezos al aire di
El uno es para mi madre
Y el otro para ti

Joaquín Díaz, Romanzas y Cantigas Sefardies

Printed Arrangements

Author/Arranger Publication Year
Lucien L. Bernheim Cinq chansons populaires judéo-espagnoles du XVIe siècle, Pages d'Art, Mensuelle Suisse Illustré 1920
Abraham Zvi Idelsohn Gesänge der orientalischen Sefardim, HOM IV, # 493 1923
Alberto Hemsi Coplas sefardíes 1932 onward
José M. Estrugo El retorno a Sefarad; un siglo después de la inquisición. Prólogo de Gabriel Alomar, Imprenta "Europa" 1933
Wolf Simoni 4 Cánticas [sic] Sefardíes 1937
Lucien L.Bernheim Pet sefardskih narodnih pjesama: iz XVI stoljeca (Smirna): pjevanje i klavir / Cinq chansons populaires judéo-espagnoles: du XVIe siècle (Smyrne): chant et piano 1939
Léon Algazi Chants sephardis 1958
José Estrugo Los sefardíes. Editorial Lex 1958
Elena Paz Favorite Spanish folksongs; traditional songs from Spain and Latin America 1965
Isaac Levy Chants judeo-espagnol, nos. 776-8 1971
Joaquín Díaz Temas sefardíes del cancionero sefardí (with notes by Iacob M. Hassán, Elena Romero and Paloma Díaz-Mas.) 1972
Moshe Attias Cancionero sefardí 1972
Ivan Kanchev A Basketful of Lyrical Judeo-Spanish Songs from Sofia. Annual (Sofia) 12 1977
Bracha Zefira Kolot Rabim 1978
Nico Castel The Nico Castel Ladino Song Book 1981
Manuel García Morante 40 canciones sefardíes 1983
  A cantar! 1990
Frederic Hand; Norman Ludwin Sephardic songs for soprano, flute, guitar and double bass 1996
Simon A. Sargon At grandfather's knee: a cycle of five Judeo-Spanish folk songs 1998
Roberto Sierra Cancionero sefardí: for voice, flute, clarinet, piano, violin & violoncello 1999
Matilde Salvador Endechas y cantares de Sefarad: voz y guitarra 2000
Judy Frankel Sephardic Songs in Judeo-Spanish from the Collection of Judy Frankel 2001
Oscar Roberto Casares Mélodies séfarades et danse hébraïque 2002
Michael Isaacson A la una yo nasi 2002
Gerard Edery Gerard Edery Sephardic Song Book, For Voice and Guitar 2003
Velvel Pasternak The best of Jewish love songs 2004
Velvel Pasternak Sephardic music anthology 2006


Author's collection

Controlled Vocabulary

Future users of this site may only know one name for the song that interests them, yet should be able to locate all versions of that song. (I define "versions of a song" to mean songs that share either a melody or substantial lyrics.) To do this, the comprehensive discography will use what librarians call a "controlled vocabulary" that ties together all variants of the song name. Without a controlled vocabulary, there is literally no chance that even expert searchers could find all a song's versions – including one in Polish! – as the following table should make clear.

Song Title Variants for A la Una in Commercial Recordings

A la una A la una yo nasi
A la una jo naci A la una yo nasí
A la una naci yo A la una yo nazi
A la una nací yo A la una yo nazí
A la una nacì yo A la uno yo naci
A la una naçi yo A une heure, je naquis
A la una nació Ala una yo naci
A la una nasi io Alma y vida y corazón
A la una nasi yo El lunar mentiroso
A la una nasse io Las horas de la vida
A la una nassé io Once (A la una naci yo)
A la una nassi io Once... (A la una naci yo)
A la una yo naci Urodziłem się na raz
A la una yo nací  

Searching on "una" alone would find most but by no means all performances of the song, and meanwhile users would have to comb through many unrelated song performances (Al rio de una fuente, En una casa chica, etc.)

Exemplary Searches

Users should be able to search on different parameters. Searching for releases by decade dramatically illustrates the accelerating number of commercial releases with Sephardic songs:

Decade Number of Releases
1900s 2
1910s 0
1920s 0
1930s 0
1940s 0
1950s 2
1960s 3
1970s 6
1980s 13
1990s 56
2000s 44 through 2007 (equivalent to 63 for the whole decade)

A search on all 78 rpm recordings would result in the following:

Angel, Lazare
Collection universelle de musique populaire enregistrée
Recorded 1948
UNESCO release

Institut d'Études Folkloriques Juives release




Compagnie Espagnole de Salonique
A la una nació
Zonophone X-104119
(Please CONTACT US if you own this recording)


Haim Effendi
A la una nassi io
Odeon 54469

Haim Effendi
A la una nassio
Odeon 83055
(Please CONTACT US if you own this this recording)


Where applicable we could also list notable early non-commercial versions, such as one by Isaac Algazi. (2)

The next link illustrates a search by date, such as recordings up to 1980. And if you can't get enough of the song, here are over 125 versions, most with samples. Choose either the entire results list (LONG!) or pick any of the ten pages below, sorted by the performing group or artist's name.

Results Performing Group or Artist's Last Name
Page 1 A – Amour Exil
Page 2 Ancient Music Ensemble of Kostjantin Chechenja – BraAgas
Page 3 Brio – Díaz
Page 4 Diéz – Ensemble Wayal
Page 5 Escribano – Haim Effendi
Page 6 Henig – León
Page 7 Levy – Muro
Page 8 New World Renaissance Band – Rot
Page 9 Roza Enflorese – Treves Alcalay
Page 10 Trío Sefarad – Zespół Reprezentacyjny
Versions from Other Traditions


Copyright 2008 - 2012, Joel Bresler

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