Halbe Arbeit


  Halbe Arbeit - (2009)    

Theodor Storm

for high voice and piano


Leibeigenschaft war nur der Rumpf,
Nur halb erlegte man den Drachen,
Der noch aus dem feudalen Sumpf
Zu uns her├╝berreckt den Rachen;
Behalten blieb es bessern Tagen,
Das freche Haupt herabzusclagen.

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 20 " ]

Theodor Storm


Half-done Job


Serfdom was only a part of it,
As only half the dragon was slain,
More have been able from the feudal morass
To reach out to us through their cries;
Continue to know that better days that will come
In which the impertinent dragon's head will be slapped down.



The text refers to the imperial government and the kings which preceded, holding men in serfdom. Storm notes quite accurately not only for his time but for this, I think, that the dragon is only half slain. But Storm predicts with optimism that there will come a time when the remainder of that "dragon" will be slain towards the greater freedom of man. My small collection of Storm's work places this text in the category of "Politisch-patriotische Lyrik," political-patriotic verses.


This is the vision of a Walt Whitman in his polemic, To the States, as it is to Robert Service's fiery outburst, I Am Freedom's Fool. and Rummel's short yet pointed outcry, Pray tell, my brother, why. The history of man is a history of becoming freed from slavery, then serfdom and now even from those who would continue the centuries' long tradition of dictating from the few to the many.


The opening is marked "aggressive" at this swift tempo, with dynamics noted as between forte and fortissimo. This is a cry, speaking aloud the title in other words, that only half the work against tyranny has been accomplished. The harmonic succession of the setting moves to successive dissolution of F sharp major in two measure periods, until the restatement of the optimistic charge for that time which is yet to come, when the "work" of man will have been accomplished.



The image of the "head" which needs be slapped down is accompanied by a driving spread of range to measure 25, and the insistent repetition of D minor with its major seven in inversion. With the musical "striking" of the "freche Haupt," the beginning motive takes up again, the future remaining rooted in F sharp major.



The score for Small Homes 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.


Halbe Arbeit