Music and Texts of  GARY BACHLUND

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Der Faulpelz - (2009)    

Erich Kurt Mühsam

for medium voice and piano


 

Otto, Otto, lerne!
Lerne dein Gedicht!
Tust du es nicht gerne,
Hilft's dir dennoch nicht.

In der Schule morgen
Weißt du dir es Dank. -
Otto sitzt in Sorgen
Auf der Gartenbank.

Otto sitzt in Kummer
Unterm Lindenbaum;
Und er sinkt in Schlummer,
Weiß es selber kaum.

Fanny und Lenore
Treiben mit ihm Spaß,
Kitzeln ihn am Ohre
Mit dem Zittergras.

Otto's Geist ist ferne,
Und er merkt es nicht; -
Otto, Otto, lerne!
Lerne dein Gedicht!

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 45" ]


Erich Mühsam

 

I intentionally place this photo of Mühsam alongside his gentle humor intended for children and parents, for Mühsam was executed by the Nazis whose first premise in standing for elections and then reason for not allowing further elections after their rise to power was for "the common good." Art is an individual act for the most part, and in larger settings at best a communal enterprise of a relatively small number of people all striving to a "common good," while so often the history of man has shown that governments ostensibly striving for a "common good" perpetrate the worst of evils upon men for that "common good."

 

Lazy Bones

Otto, Otto, learn!
Learn your poem!
If you're lazy
It won't help you.

For mornings in school
You should thankful be. -
Otto sits with his worries
On the garden bench.

Otto sits quite troubled
Under the linden tree;
And he sinks in slumber,
As few are better able.

Fanny and Lenore
Come with mischief,
Tickle him on his ears
With some trembling grass.

Otto's ghost is distant,
And he notes it not, --
Otto, Otto, learn!
Learn your poem!

 

paraphrase by GB

 

 

These short verses are treated in a standard song form, the middle stanzas of the poem as secondary to the repeated first, which again ends the setting. Over a jaunty 6/8 the vocal insists stubbornly on a waltz rhythm at first, but the last line of each stanza turns into a duple rhythm with marcato. The center verses are contrasting in musical images built on these motives.

 

 

 

The score 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.

 

Der Faulpelz