Der Werwolf

 

 

Der Werwolf - (2010)    

Christian Morgenstern

for medium voice and piano


Karsten Mulder gewidmet

Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
von Weib und Kind und sich begab
an eines Dorfschullehrers Grab
und bat ihn: "Bitte, beuge mich!"

Der Dorfschulmeister stieg hinauf
auf seines Blechschilds Messingknauf
und sprach zum Wolf, der seine Pfoten
geduldig kreuzte vor dem Toten:

"Der Werwolf" - sprach der gute Mann,
"des Weswolfs, Genitiv sodann,
dem Wemwolf, Dativ, wie man's nennt,
den Wenwolf, - damit hat's ein End."

Dem Werwolf schmeichelten die Fälle,
er rollte seine Augenbälle.
"Indessen," bat er, "füge doch
zur Einzahl auch die Mehrzahl noch!"

Der Dorfschulmeister aber mußte
gestehn, dass er von ihr nichts wußte,
Zwar Wölfe gäb's in großer Schar,
doch "Wer" gäb's nur im Singular.

Der Wolf erhob sich tränenblind -
er hatte ja doch Weib und Kind!!
Doch da er kein Gelehrter eben,
so schied er dankend und ergeben.

[ 4 pages, circa 3' 10" ]


Christian Morgenstern

 

One night a Were-wolf slipped away
From his Were-wife and his Were-wolf child,
To the grave of a rotten schoolmaster
To decline himself as noun-beguiled.

Ghost-like gray the schoolmaster rose
From out of the gravestone's head,
And spoke to the Wolf, crossed paws suppose
To beseech a philologist long dead:

"The Were-wolf," spoke the spirited man,
"Of the Were-wolf, in the genitive penned,
To the Were-wolf, is the dative scan,
And objective, a Were-wolf; that's the end."

Such cases flattered the wolf called Were,
Its Were-wolf eyeballs rolling widely wide.
"However tense, all remains a blur;
What's singular? What's plural?" he cried.

Alas the corrupted schoolmaster confessed
"Incorruptible are most grammatical rules.
While wolves is plural, as you've guessed,
Wolf is singular, in most of our grammar schools."

With this, the Were-wolf howled and cried,
"I am not singular! I've a wife and child!"
And so the Were-wolf rushed home to bride
And Were-wolf child, tensely reconciled.

 

Rhymed paraphrase by the composer

Copyright © 2010 Gary Bachlund    All international rights reserved.

 

The opening gesture echoes a gestures which can be found in Lizst's Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H, a small conceit of my own. The wholly chromatic gesture moves another region to settle on the augmented dominant leading to the first strophe in the tonic minor. Several variations of the strophe fill out the setting, with some differing harmonization.

 

 

The setting ends with a sort of howl, and either the original or ossia version suffice as long as the howl is wild enough to not be too musical. Enjoy.

 

On the walls of Dr. Mulder's waiting room are cartoons drawn by some of his young patients, many of them the good doctor as seen through the eyes and artistic skills of these kids. The above is a portion of one of several, giving witness that the doctor is obviously good tending to children in need of care. My wife having been in his care and myself being an older sort of "child," this little setting of a favorite poem of his is my "cartoon."

 

The score for Der Werwolf 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 Werwolf