Der Adler und die Eule


Der Adler und die Eule - (2011)    

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

for tenor and piano


Der Adler Jupiters und Pallas Eule stritten.
„Abscheulich Nachtgespenst!"– „Bescheidner, darf ich bitten.
Der Himmel heget mich und dich;
Was bist du also mehr, als ich?"
Der Adler sprach: Wahr ist's, im Himmel sind wir beide;
Doch mit dem Unterscheide:
Ich kam durch eignen Flug,
Wohin dich deine Göttin trug.

[ 3 pages, circa 2' 00" ]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing


Jupiter's eagle and Pallas' owl quarreled.
"Repulsive nighttime ghost!" - "Answer, if I may ask.
Heaven looks after both of us;
So what makes you better than me?"
The eagle spoke: "It's true, we're both in heaven;
But there is a difference:
I came on my own wings,
While your goddess had to carry you.




For other settings of texts of Lessing, click here.



Some merits are greater than others, argues Lessing in this little rhyme about a fowl argument. The eagle has the upper hand as Lessing carves away the notion of egalitarianism in all things. As a writer of a subsequent generation, Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944), notes of those "owls" who might make the same argument, "Only the mediocre are always at their best." Lessing's eagle soars, bettering such a best with a simple jest. The "in one" setting feels up tempo and with a light swing for its triple meter. In an ABA form, the owl takes center stage for the second, and the eagle returns for the reprise.



The repeat of the last phrase reiterates the eagle's assertion, "Wahr ist's" -- it's true! -- by rising to the high B with no ritardando suggested.



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.


Der Adler und die Eule