Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund

 

 

Hamburger Hurenlied - (2011)    

Klabund

for mezzo soprano and piano


 

Wir Hamburger Mädchen haben's fein,
Wir brauchen nicht auf dem Striche sein.
Wir wohnen in schönen Häusern
Wohl bei der Nacht,
Ahoi!
Weil es uns Freude macht.

Es kommen Kavaliere, Neger und Matros,
Die werden bei uns ihre Pfundstücke los,
Sie liegen uns am Busen
Wohl bei der Nacht,
Ahoi!
Weil es uns Freude macht.

Madam kocht schlechtes Essen, Sami spielt Klavier,
Mit den Kavalieren tanzen wir,
Fließt ein Taler drüber,
Wird er Madam gebracht,
Ahoi!
Weil es uns Freude macht.

Eines Tages holt die Sitte uns hinaus,
Und sie sperrt uns in das graue Krankenhaus.
Dann sind wir tot und sterben
Wohl bei der Nacht,
Ahoi!
Weil es uns Freude macht.

4 pages, circa 3' 20"


 

We Hamburg gals are fine,
we don't need to be out on the street.
We live in lovely houses
where through the night --
Ahoy! --
because it makes us happy.

Fine gentlemen, Negroes and sailors
that want to let loose of their pound notes,
they lie on our bosom
and through the night --
Ahoy! --
because it makes us happy.

The madam cooks terribly, Sami plays piano,
we dance with the gentlemen,
the money flows
which our madam wants --
Ahoy! --
because it makes us happy.

One day the whole thing breaks down
and they speed us to the gray hospital.
Then we die, dying
there in the night --
Ahoy! --
Because it makes us happy.

 

paraphrase by the composer

 

 

Hamburg is a harbor city, and brothels have been associated with sailors -- among so many others. What shall one say then of the repeated "ahoy!" Calling to the sailors? A prelude to sexual escapades? A waltz meter carries the text in a decorative piano style. The harmonies wonder away from the tonic easily, and the strophes' melodic shape reaches for the following stanza of text and storytelling of decay a next half-step higher.

 

 

The final statement about 'happiness' is turned into a knife of despair and irony under the pen of the poet. The setting descends into nothingness.

 

 

The score for Hamburger Hurenlied 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.

 

Hamburger Hurenlied