Berliner Ballade - (2011)
for baritone and piano
Sie hing wie eine Latte
Vom Schranke steif und stumm.
Am Morgen sah's ihr Gatte,
Lief nach dem Polizeipräsidium.
»Meine Frau«, so schrie er, »ist verschieden...«
Doch der Polizeiwachtmeister Schmidt
Rollte blutig seine Augen:
»Wie denn, ha'm Sie den Jeburtsschein mit?«
Dieses hatte er mitnichten,
Und er setzte sich in Trab,
Spät entsann er sich der ehelichen Pflichten,
– schnitt sie ab.
Und er legt den Strick an seine Kehle,
Vor dem Spiegel, peinlich und honett.
Nimmt noch einen Schluck, befiehlt Gott seine Seele
– schwapp, schon baumelt er am Ehebett.
[ 3 pages, circa 2' 30" ]
She hung like a lump
From the beam stiff and silent
In the morning, her husband saw her
And ran to the police headquarters
"My wife," he cried, "is dead ..."
But the police sergeant Schmidt
rolled his bloodshot eyes:
"Well then, did you bring her birth certificate with you?"
This he did not have,
And so he rushed off at a trot,
Late remembering his conjugal duties
-- and cut her down.
And he put the rope on his throat,
In front of the mirror, embarrassed yet respectable.
Takes another sip, commended his soul to God,
-- smack, now he dangles above the marriage bed.
The early 20th century brought dark tales, which were thought then to be "contemporary" and real in contradistinction to the late 19th century many marvelous flights of fantasy. Klabund makes some sport of the telling of such dark stories in this, as he did in his Ballade für Frank Wedekind. Herein the horror of the husband is placed alongside the lethargic bureaucracy of police sergeant Schmidt, who in one short question as posed by Klabund demonstrates all the empathy of a stone. This setting in a minor key features the sinking, sagging half step in inner voices while the vocal part is intentionally marked "indifferently" as is the perspective of the police sergeant, who we might imagine would have been more annoyed at having to deal with two deaths as with one.
The score for Berliner Ballade is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.