Der Esel

 

 

Der Esel - (2008)     

Matthias Claudius

for medium or high voice and piano


 

Hab nichts, mich dran zu freuen,
Bin dumm und ungestalt,
Ohn Mut und ohn Gewalt;
Mein spotten, und mich scheuen
Die Menschen, jung und alt;
Bin weder warm noch kalt;
Hab nichts, mich dran zu freuen,
Bin dumm und ungestalt;
Muss Stroh und Disteln käuen;
Werd unter Säcken alt -
Ah, die Natur schuf mich im Grimme!
Sie gab mir nichts, als eine schöne Stimme.

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 50" ]


Matthias Claudius

 

I have nothing in me of which to rejoice.
Being dumb and misshapen,
Without courage and without power;
I am ridiculed by and shy away from
People, young and old;
I am either warm or cold;
I have nothing in me of which to rejoice.
Being dumb and misshapen,
I have straw and thistles to chew;
I grow old from burdens -
Oh, Nature made me in bitterness!
She gave me nothing, except for this beautiful voice.

 

 

This fine bit of humor finds all of the complaints of life offset by the one bit of braggadocio which makes all sensible within its overarching frame of reference. This is the narcissist's creed, after all, wherein faults are so easily ignored and burdens ignored in favor of the self-gazing love of self. So for this donkey's complaints, the setting remains in the bright major and with light-hearted gestures to accompany this sense of self-satisfaction.

 

 

The gestures laugh beneath the vocal line, and the mention that Mother Nature had given these burdens refuses to settle into anything less bright than the same tonic major. The tempo slows for the widely spaced chords before a return to the bright beginning tempo.

 

 

 

The final statement accelerates without text other than onomatopoeia, which the singer is encourages to overdo.

 

 

The score for Der Esel 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 Esel