Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Totalität - (2010)    

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

for medium voice and piano


Ein Kavalier von Kopf und Herz
Ist überall willkommen;
Er hat mit feinem Witz und Scherz
Manch Weibchen eingenommen:
Doch wenn's ihm fehlt an Faust und Kraft,
Wer mag ihn dann beschützen?
Und wenn er keinen Hintern hat,
Wie mag der Edle sitzen?

[ 2 pages, circa 1' 20"]

Johann Wolfgang Goethe



A well-bred gentleman in head and heart
Is welcomed everywhere;
He has, with his gentleman's wit so smart,
Caught women in his snare:
When fist and strength depart, alas,
Who then shall sure defend him?
When bent with age and thin of ass,
How sits that noble, who once was trim?


Rhymed paraphrase by the composer

Copyright   2010 Gary Bachlund    All international rights reserved.



The text is drawn from Goethe's 1827 Epigrammatisch. His love of twists and humor in small forms stands alongside his more soaring works, as he noted about his own "totality" as found in his later Zahme Xenien [VI] from 1823-1828, "I split myself and at all times remain one." So it is with the "well-bred gentleman" who, if he lives long enough, will become a doddering old man. There is in Goethe's verbiage as certain twist, as he pokes fun at the nobleman, of course, for such was Goethe's spirit.


The simple ABA sings out a wandering tonal regime over a simple tonic-dominant bass line, with a bridge of chromatic, falling parallel chords as "strength" fails the noble gentleman. Life brings all to the same end eventually, Goethe reminds, including "eine Kavalier."



The score for Totalität 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.