Eine ungenehme Überraschung


Eine ungenehme Überraschung - (2012)    
Wilhelm Busch

for medium voice and piano


Der Altgesell ist froh und lacht,
Weil ihm die erste Maß gebracht.
Der Stoff ist sehr zu loben,
Drum wird sofort der Krug gehoben.
Schlupp! rinnt das Bier durch seine Kehle
Auf einmal in die heiße Seele.
"Was ist denn das?" - denkt er erschreckt,
"Daß dieses so abscheulich schmeck?"
Da hat er es. O, Schreck und Graus!
Ha! welch abscheul'che, tote Maus!
Ja, ja! - Kaum will man sich erfreun,
So kommt gleich was Fatales drein!

3 pages, circa 1' 45"

Cartoon by Busch


The old fellow chortles with happy cheer,
because he's brought a first liter of beer.
The brew is one most highly praised,
and very quickly his glass is raised.
Gulp! the beer goes down the hatch,
In expectation of a second batch.
"But what is this?" he cries in haste,
"This has the most obnoxious taste!"
At once 'twas clear the sickening cause --
A dead mouse worth a stomach-churning pause!
Ah yes, hardly will most any man rejoice,
Before he must suffer from his own awful choice.


rhymed paraphrase by the composer

Copyright 2012 © Gary Bachlund All international rights reserved.



Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908) offered his readers many wonderful sketches and cartoons, many illustrating his verses. For those interested, each couplet received its own illustration which can be found on a number of sites dedicated to Busch. This "unpleasant surprise" amuses me much, for its specific details coupled to a lesson in life are unusual. Professor Roy Travis' expression, "the indigestible tritone," came to mind when reading the poem, for indeed the dead mouse is indigestible too. Against a tonic G flat major, the C major triad argues for its specific dissonance. Thereafter, simple parallel triads sidle about in half step relations.



The end of the tale is a moral, from Busch's perspective. Several times the "awful" choice is reprised, closing on a harmonically cluttered final cadence.


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.


Eine ungenehme Überraschung