Der alte Narr - (2012)
for medium voice and piano
Ein Künstler auf dem hohen Seil,
Der alt geworden mittlerweil,
Stieg eines Tages vom Gerüst
Und sprach: Nun will ich unten bleiben
Und nur noch Hausgymnastik treiben,
Was zur Verdauung nötig ist.
Da riefen alle: Oh, wie schad!
Der Meister scheint doch allnachgrad
Zu schwach und steif zum Seilbesteigen!
Ha! denkt er, dieses wird sich zeigen!
Und richtig, eh der Markt geschlossen,
Treibt er aufs neu die alten Possen
Hoch in der Luft und zwar mit Glück,
Bis auf ein kleines Mißgeschick.
Er fiel herab in großer Eile
Und knickte sich die Wirbelsäule.
Der alte Narr! Jetzt bleibt er krumm!
So äußert sich das Publikum.
3 pages, circa 2' 45"
Wilhelm Busch self-caricature
The old fool
An artist midst his high wire walk
Turned old as passing years did him stalk;
Alighting one day from his scaffold high
Said he: now 'tis my time ne'er more to try,
But to only do upon reflection
That which does not upset digestion.
Then joked we all: "What once he'd been!
This master now seems all done in,
Too weak and stiff, he lacks the pep!"
"Ha!" he thinks. "I show those folks!"
The market closed, to quash such jokes
He tried his antics one more time,
High in the air, with a luck sublime
Until that single misstep.
With a crashing thud down he did fall
And broke his back, away to crawl.
"The old fool is now a shattered heap,"
Disparaged his fans; with nary a weep.
rhymed paraphrase by the composer
Copyright 2012 © Gary Bachlund All international rights reserved.
The setting swings between stressing the raised fourth in the tonic major, and a 'slipping' into the whole tone scale. Leaps, lower neighbors and dotted rhythms suggest the daring high wire act. Much of the setting is a simple, two-voiced invention.
The last and failed attempt by our high wire artist ends in the falling filigree of the whole tone gestures fortissimo. A quiet diagnosis of the tragic injury is followed with a reprise of the unsympathetic, insensitive audience's scorn. Busch tells us something of ourselves in this. Are we part of that public? Are we the high-flying artist, or even the fading performer? We are invited to make such a conclusion for ourselves. My own answer is that I have been all three at various times, which should come as no surprise. It will come as no surprise that many of us share -- or will share -- in this life experience.
The score for Der alte Narr 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 alte Narr