Kleine Geschichte

 

 

Kleine Geschichte - (2011)    
Christian Morgenstern

for baritone or bass and piano


 

Litt einst ein Fähnlein große Not,
halb war es gelb, halb war es rot
und wollte gern zusammen
zu einer lichten Flammen.

Es zog sich, wand sich, wellte sich,
es knitterte, es schnellte sich –
umsonst! es mocht nicht glücken,
die Naht zu überbrücken.

Da kam ein Wolkenbruch daher
und wusch das Fähnlein kreuz und quer,
daß Rot und Gelb, zerflossen,
voll Inbrunst sich genossen.

Des Fähnleins Herren freilich war
des Vorgangs Freudigkeit nicht klar –
indes, die sich besaßen,
nun alle Welt vergaßen.

4 pages, circa 2' 20"


Christian Morgenstern

 

A troop's little banner suffered great distress,
for half was yellow, the other half red
and it wanted very much
to burn as one bright flame instead.

It pulled, it writhed, it waved,
it crumpled and it whipped --
in vain it was unlucky,
for the seam was always ripped.

Suddenly came a cloudburst
and washed it from hither to yon,
that the red and yellow bled,
as so together were drawn.

The men under that banner
did not clearly understand,
but in as much as they did,
the world has now forgotten that little band.

 

rhymed paraphrase by the composer

 

 

In museums one finds regimental colors, troops' special banners and the like. The Fähnlein, meaning "small banner", consisted of foot soldiers that were organized under that
single banner, hence the unit's name. This unit's colors were divided, and bled into one which the poet reminds us might have been heroic but is ultimately forgotten. Hence a "little" story, as the title reminds us.

 

The score for Kleine Geschichte 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.

 

Kleine Geschichte