The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161887   Message #3850865
Posted By: keberoxu
17-Apr-17 - 02:53 PM
Thread Name: English Trans. Req: Fruhlingsmusikanten
Subject: RE: English Trans. Req: Fruhlingsmusikanten
Whoa! Full stop! And propers to Grishka who caught me out. It serves me right for submitting something, in a language that is not my native language, without taking the time to examine the quote word by word.

No, I had paid no attention to the fact that "erdolchen" means to stab with a knife....I'm used to "stechen" and its variants, but "erdolchen," no. This assures that I shall never forget what "erdolchen" means.
Which is how I often learn....the hard way.

Yes, those were interesting times indeed. You had the German-speaking kingdoms and principalities and all, you had all these diverse interests because these places were not unified. You had Austria, which gave us Metternich, whose name is now a byword for diplomacy, the kind of diplomacy that requires nerves of steel. You had the Enlightenment. You had Sturm und Drang, which I guess had already crested, but its influence was still being felt, with all this passionate emotion in both literature and music. There was prosperity, not for all, but enough to give people ambitions and ideas.

And you know who else was in the public eye?

I think his Christian name was actually Wilhelm, but his penname was E. T. A. Hoffmann. If you know your operatic repertoire, you recognize him from "Les contes d'Hoffmann," or "The Tales of Hoffmann," one of those war-horses without which the opera houses would not stay open. And even for opera this is unusual, this case. This is no fictitious character; this is an artist/writer who wrote fiction, who composed music, who was a playwright with productions in the theater, and whose tragic demise and conflicted life-story elevated his reputation to that of a myth in his own right. Hoffmann has, since his death, joined the ranks of those called poètes maudits, "doomed poets."

If that sounds like a change of subject / thread drift, that is one side of the discussion.
On the other side: Hoffmann set to music, in this case for four-part women's chorus, a satire by -- you guessed it -- Friedrich Förster. The "object" in the satire is a "Kaiser" of "Turkey." And its tongue is firmly planted in cheek, both in words and music. I just looked, online for the first time, at a file of the first page of the vocal score, and it is intended to make you laugh. Hoffmann's melody, in parallel thirds in the divided soprano section, is a clear rip-off of the notorious:

I will sing you a song
And it won't take very long....

opening bars to "The Streets of Cairo", the tune that sounds like snake-charmer music. It's a hoot.
Since it has the same poet as the Frühlingsmusikanten, I may attach Förster's poetic satire to this thread in a future post.