Schlamme, Martha Haftel
SCHLAMME, MARTHA HAFTEL
SCHLAMME, MARTHA HAFTEL (1922–1985), folk-art singer, pianist, and actress. Schlamme was born in Vienna, the only daughter of Meier and Gisa Braten Haftel, who were Orthodox Jews. She and her parents escaped the Nazis in 1938 through France to England, where her parents were interned by the English government on the Isle of Man. Martha chose to leave the Jewish school she attended and joined her parents there. At the camp she met Engel Lund, a singer from Iceland, who inspired her to become an international singer. Martha came to the U.S. in 1948, shortly after marrying Hans Schlamme.
Schlamme began her concert career in the Catskills, singing in Hebrew and Yiddish. Her venues soon included college campuses, concert halls, and nightclubs, as well as radio and television. By 1960, she had performed over a thousand concerts. A supreme interpreter of folk song, Schlamme concertized and recorded in 12 languages. She enthusiastically sang Jewish songs throughout her career. On the Vanguard, Folkways, Columbia, and mgm labels she produced 15 albums including Martha Schlamme Sings Israeli Folk Songs (1953); Martha Schlamme Sings Folk Songs of Many Lands (1958); and Martha Schlamme Sings Jewish Folks Songs (1957, and vol. 2, 1959).
Schlamme's early enthusiasm for Kurt *Weill brought her considerable attention and fame. She performed Weill's songs in Edinburgh at a venue called the Howff. This show grew and eventually came to New York, playing for months. For over 20 years she included Weill's music in her programs and produced the recordings The World of Kurt Weill in Song (1962), and A Kurt Weill Cabaret (1963). In 1965, she starred in a production of Weill's Mahoganny at the Stratford Festival in Ontario and two years later sang at Ravinia Music Festival in A Kurt Weill Cabaret with Alvin Epstein. In 1985, she appeared with Epstein at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem.
Schlamme sang on Broadway, playing the role of Golde in Fiddler on the Roof in 1968, and that same year appearing in A Month of Sundays and Solitaire, Double Solitaire. Schlamme became a teacher of song and acting at the Circle in the Square Theater School in New York and H.B. Studio. She was also close to activists in leftist politics, giving numerous benefit concerts. She recorded German Folk Songs on the Folkways label with Pete Seeger. In the 1960s, after an annulment of her first marriage, she married Mark Lane, a Democratic politician. Martha Schlamme suffered a stroke onstage at the Chautauqua Festival at age 60 in front of a large audience and died in nearby Jamestown, New York.
[Judith S. Pinnolis (2nd ed.)]