Katzenpastete - (2009)    

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

for medium voice and piano


Bewährt den Forscher der Natur
Ein frei und ruhig Schauen,
So folge Meßkunst seiner Spur
Mit Vorsicht und Vertrauen.

Zwar mag in Einem Menschenkind
Sich Beides auch vereinen:
Doch daß es zwei Gewerbe sind,
Das läßt sich nicht verneinen.

Es war einmal ein braver Koch,
Geschickt im Appretiren;
Dem fiel es ein, er wollte doch
Als Jäger sich geriren.

Er zog bewehrt zu grünem Wald,
Wo manches Wildbret haus'te,
Und einen Kater schoß er bald,
Der junge Vögel schmaus'te.

Sah ihn für einen Hasen an
Und ließ sich nicht bedeuten,
Pastetete viel Würze dran
Und setzt' ihn vor den Leuten.

Doch manche Gäste das verdroß,
Gewisse feine Nasen:
Die Katze, die der Jäger schoß,
Macht nie der Koch zum Hasen.

[ 6 pages, circa 3' 25" ]

Johann Wolfgang Goethe


Pâté of Cat Pies

Known to the naturalists
Is that easy, calm perspective
Which artfully follows some measure
With both caution and with confidence.

Men might wish that both of them
Be joined as one enterprise;
But that there are two activities,
We can not deny.


Once there was a good cook
Clever in presentation;
But it happened that he wanted
To play the hunter.

He went armed into the green forest,
Where much game made its home.
And soon, he shot a cat
That the young birds had shown to him.

It seemed to him to be a rabbit
And he didn't note the difference,
So it was made into nicely spiced pâté pies.
Which were served to his guests.

But some guests were quite put off
With their sensitive noses:
The cats which the hunter had shot
Could never be made by the cook into rabbit.





The text is drawn from Goethe's Weimar period, and suggested a more earnest opening yet "not a recitative," and then a broader A-B-A song form as "not an aria" to follow the "not a recitative." A jaunty introduction to place this text in its proper light opens, followed by a somewhat serious and lyrical commentary, with which Goethe opens his humorous tale of the cook who served cat pâté pies -- just once, we might infer.



The pile of diatonic notes creates a curtain between the lyrical and comic sections of this setting. The quasi-Viennese waltz with a long arch up and then down accompanies the opening of the tale itself.



The center section of the tale slows considerably to tell the clear failure of this talented cook who proves himself to be an untalented hunter. One presumes that in shooting the cat, the cook made enough of a mess of things as not to be able to indentify this "mystery meat." Ah, but his diners did. For this, we see Goethe's distinction in the opening, for the cook proceeded with great confidence but with little caution.




The score for Katzenpastete 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.