Die Selbstkritik hat viel für sich - (2012)
bass or baritone and piano
Variationen über C-A-G-E
Selbstkritik hat viel für sich.
Gesetzt den Fall, ich tadle mich:
So hab ich erstens den Gewinn,
Daß ich so hübsch bescheiden bin;
Zum zweiten denken sich die Leut,
Der Mann ist lauter Redlichkeit;
Auch schnapp ich drittens diesen Bissen
Vorweg den andern Kritiküssen;
Und viertens hoff ich außerdem
Auf Widerspruch, der mir genehm.
So kommt es denn zuletzt heraus,
Daß ich ein ganz famoses Haus.
pages, circa 1" 45"
Wilhelm Busch Selbstkarikatur
Amused at some recent planned performances of John Cage's Songbooks
which are taken so terribly seriously these days, I thought of them as I
read Busch's acerbic yet delightful rhyme. A fine English language
translation of Busch's text has been made by Walter A. Aue, and may be found
through this link to Emily Ezust's excellent site,
The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive. As with many of the
projects John Cage put together, his particular avant garde perspective is
meant to deflect some criticism through its own philosophical underpinnings,
such as his oft-quoted and clever assertion, "If something is boring after
two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen.
Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all." (At
the casino this is called doubling down on your bet.) In that spirit, I
therefore recommend that this song setting should be performed or not, or at
least maybe not, or then again maybe. Zen yule zee watt Busch socked,
theme is simple, as are some of Cage's melodic choices in repetition, so
C-A-G-E is this setting's theme, melodically and harmonically as a chord
form, in transposition and repetition.
center section breaks the cut-time mood in tempo and notation, as an ersatz
12/8 recalls toy piano sounds in the upper register of the instrument.
C-A-G-E becomes the tonal regions in another variation just for the fun of
it. I mention the notion of "fun" because of an incident many years ago in
Frankfurt performing John Cage's Europas 1 & 2, in which an audience
member leapt onto the stage and danced with us, swinging her purse around in
a large arch. Offstage, I heard on of the stage management frantically
trying to call the police, and found that part of the amusement because
chance was the method of combining materials, musical and theatrical, into
the creation of the work. The audience member had her moment, and returned
to her seat. The police were not called after all, and the performance did
what it was supposed to do. Or not. But then again, "As far as consistency
of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency." So he said. So it was.
Inconsistent. Consistently. For this I am also amused when audience members
attend the "silent" works of Cage and sit respectfully in their silence
which is not meant to be so damn silent after all. Or, "...try as we may to
make a silence, we cannot." Ah, how orthodox can the historic avant garde
become in the halls of the cognoscenti. How consistent.
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.
And for more than thirty other settings of Busch's texts, click
Die Selbstkritik hat viel für sich