Kleines Bild - (2017)    

Ilse Weber

for mezzo soprano or soprano and piano


Dem schwarzen Totenwagen
sehn viele Leute nach.
Vier Silbersäulen tragen
das reichverzierte Dach.

Es trägt nicht stille Tote,
das düstere Gefährt -
wohl hundert braune Brote
es durch die Gassen fährt.

Der Schnee zerweicht die Erde,
der Wind saust übers Land,
dem Wagen sind nicht Pferde,
nein, Kinder vorgespannt.

Sie zieh'n die Deichselstange
und schreiten nebenher.
Schweiß steht auf Stirn und Wange
ist wohl die Last so schwer?

Und kindlich ernst die Miene,
die Wangen kälterot.
Sie müssen schwer verdienen
ihr karges, schwarzes Brot.

Der Titel zu dem Bilde?
Es trägt ihn selbst, oh, seht,
groß auf dem Wagenschilde
»Jugendfürsorge« steht.

3 pages, circa 3' 00"


The text is from the collection, "In deinen Mauern wohnt das Leid" -- inside these walls sorrow lives.  Writer and songwriter, Weber was confined to the Prague ghetto by the National Socialists, deported to Theresienstadt, and murdered with her youngest son -- for that is the only word for this -- in Auschwitz. For another of her texts, click here.


Tiny picture

The hearse of black-cracked lacquer
has served its many dead.
Four silvered columns heft
its ornamental roof overhead.

As dark, sepulchral friend --
it has carried its silent dead;
through ghetto lanes it carries now
its hundred loaves of hard-brown bread.

Snow softens white the silent earth,
wind sighing above this land,
as the wagon, drawn without horses --
no! -- children pull with tiny hand.

Each tugs the carriage traces
and plods in measured gait.
Sweat beads the children's brows and cheeks,
why is this heavy load their fate?

And childlike, earnest grimaces
in cheeks reddened with the cold
tell of their hardened labor for
meager blackened bread controlled.

The title to this picture?
With dark irony it black bleeds,
large is a sign fixed to the hearse:
"Welfare for the Young" it reads.


rhymed paraphrase by the composer

Copyright © 2017 Gary Bachlund   All international rights reserved.



The several strophes are related in structure and scansion, moving between harmonic domains. A final reflection for piano alone ends the setting.





The score for Kleines Bild 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.


Kleines Bild