Kracht der Topf in Scherben


Kracht der Topf in Scherben - (2012)    
Erich Kurt Mühsam

for baritone and piano


Kracht der Topf in Scherben,
fliegt er auf den Dung.
Menschlein, du mußt sterben,
bist du noch so jung.
Blumen müssen welken,
und die Kuh verreckt,
die wir heut noch melken,
daß der Eimer leckt.
Steine selbst zerfallen,
Länderspur verwischt.
Ton und Klang verhallen,
und das Licht erlischt.
Welten gehn in Stücke
ohne Rest und Spur.
Ewig lebt die Tücke',
lebt das Unheil nur.

4 pages, circa 2' 00"

Erich Kurt Mühsam


The pot cracks into shards
To be flung away like dung.
Little one, you must die,
E'en though you are so young.
Flowers must soon wither,
And the cow be slaughtered soon
That for today we're milking
In a pail that leaks festoon.
Stones themselves decay
In each country lane o'ergrown.
Tones and sounds but echo,
And light away has flown.
Worlds fall to pieces
Without a remnant's trace.
Deceit lives on forever
In disaster's scowling face.


rhymed paraphrase by the composer

Copyright 2012  ©   Gary Bachlund    All international rights reserved.


The dark premonitions which the poet imagined became realities, and in our so-called "modern era" one reads news of killings and genocide, national profligacy and debt crises, sky-high murder rates in such "civilized" cities as Chicago, and sees economies struggling to grow in times of fiscal distress. For Mühsam specifically, his visions became a horrific reality in his own arrest and slaughter and the hands of National Socialist thugs before the outbreak of war. This is often the lot in life for an outspoken poet and pamphleteer, as one sees today in the Muslim world, as in arrests in China for disagreeing with the state, as in too many other nations to be ignored. Mühsam was a reolutionary and visionary in this dark picture he paints with meter and rhyme. For other settings of Mühsam's texts, click here.


The triple meter may be thought of as a waltz time, its gestures bent with syncopations. The accompaniment is at first aggressive, and then in a following strophe lightens, such that much of the third strophe is in a blurred whisper, before the reprise of the opening gestures and their final wordless thunder in this setting of four strophes.



The score for Kracht der Topf in Scherben 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.


Kracht der Topf in Scherben