Bürokratismus - (2009)    

Joachim Ringelnatz     

for medium voice and piano


Ein Taschenkrebs und ein Känguruh,
Die wollten sich ehelichen.
Das Standesamt gab es nicht zu,
Weil beide einander nicht glichen.

Da riefen sie zornig: "Verflucht und verdammt
Sei dieser Bürokratismus!"
Und hingen sich auf vor dem Standesamt
An einem Türmechanismus

[ 3 pages, circa 2' 00" ]

Joachim Ringelnatz


Most often this poem, drawn from Ringelnatz' early work, it titled by the first line, "Ein Taschenkrebs und ein Känguruh." I chose to title the song setting differently for the simple reason that bureaucracy meeting head on individualism has historically been a "recipe for disaster" in one form or another. Therefore, as an avowed individualist, I title the setting, "Bureaucracy."


A sweet little crab and a kangaroo,
Wanted to wed like me or you.
City Hall said this was not allowed,
"You're not alike," judged the legal crowd.

They cried out angrily: "Cursed and damned!
The bureaucracy simply will not understand!"
They hung themselves at the City Hall door,
A municipal remembrance, evermore.


(rhymed paraphrase © by the composer)



The setting begins with the pleasant major of B modal within the overall signature of B minor, to which the setting quickly turns. But first, a little brighter color to reflect the love between this set of mismatched characters in our drama. Though the poem is of course part and parcel of Ringelnatz' nonsense genre, the seriousness to its ending is most effective when treated seriously, for in truth this little drama is not about a crab, a kangaroo, or even a wedding license; it is about collective power arrayed against individualism. For this such poets as Walt Whitman also spoke out.



The mention of the "Standesamt" brings the darker color of B minor and the beginning of marcato snaps as the rhythmic gestures sharpen.



The setting's ending is most serious in its drama and twists into D minor for the ending to the repeated phrase which remembers our self-destructive "heroes" against the unfeeling bureaucracy.




The score for Bürokratismus 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.