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The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me

16 Apr 00 - 04:03 PM (#212743)
Subject: The Lorelei
From: GUEST,johntm

I just saw Cabaret last night and was struck again by the the song "The Future Belongs to Us" that the Nazis sing at the end of act one. The tune sounds exactly like the tune of "The Lorelei", the song and poem about sailors lured to their deaths on the Rhine River. Is it? Is there a message there about the deadly allure of Nazism? Does anyone know anything about the song "The Future Belongs to Us"? I have listened to recordings of the original Broadway version of Cabaret and that song does not seem to be in, if memory serves me right, but it is in the movie version with Lisa Minelli. Am I right about that? If yes, anybody know why it was not in the original show?

16 Apr 00 - 04:58 PM (#212764)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: Lesley N.

The song "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" was, I believe, in the original (at least it is in an old piano book I have which says, "from the Broadway show.") Of course, I can't find the book right now, but I recall it began, "The sun on the meadow..."

As to why they would change it - that's Hollywood for you!

16 Apr 00 - 05:13 PM (#212769)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: Susanne (skw)

John, I don't think it is the same tune for both songs, although there may be similarities in the plaintiveness and simplicity and (I think) minor key. I can't check now, though, as the LP of the film version leaves the song out.
It certainly isn't traditional, and I believe it was written specially for the film, in which it is used very effectively, I think. The scene gives me gooseflesh every time I watch it (it's one of my favourite films) and probably did more than any book (of which I've read many, being a history teacher and interested in my country's past) to make me realise just how cleverly and effectively the Nazis used innocuous things to spread their ideology. I can also remember one of my mother's children's books where a family with five children and overworked parents is given a housekeeper who is just too good to be true, gets them all back on the road, is adored by the children and quotes Adolf Hitler every other minute. What a surefire method of indoctrinating (?) a child!
Unfortunately, the song you ask about may be more effective than the authors could have wished: I went for a visit to Berlin a couple of years ago, and one night a guy with a guitar (American, going by his accent) jumped into the underground train I was travelling in and started to sing this song. I was still thinking about whether or not to speak to him when we reached the next station, he finished his song, raised his arm in a Nazi salute, shouted something I can't remember now and jumped out - perfectly timed. Gave me the chills!

16 Apr 00 - 08:44 PM (#212839)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: Chocolate Pi

I played pit orchestra for Cabaret a couple of years ago, and I hadn't realized that the similarity between the tunes was why I was playing the same wrong notes over and over that sounded so right. (does that sentence make any sense?) They're not exactly the same, though, and Tomorrow Belongs to Me does some neat fuging-type harmonies in the second or third verse. I think it was in the score, although I could be mistaken.

Chocolate Pi (flying on clouds of joy from the Chicago Sacred Harp third-Sunday sing)

17 Apr 00 - 11:50 AM (#213122)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: GUEST,johntm

Susanne: I have a recording of the LP maybe even the LP somewhere and I looked for that song on it and could not find it either. That is why I thought it was written for the movie or at least included in it only. It was very effective in the movie and is in the current Broadway show. I never saw the original on stage. In any case, a friend told me years ago that he was whistling that tune at home once and a parent I believe told him to stop because it was some Nazi song. I kind of liked the idea of the song having the same tune as the Lorelei, especially as Heine wrote the most popular version of that poem. The irony of a Nazi song deriving at least in part from a piece written by a banned Jewish author seem to fit so much of what happened in Germany back then. Not to mention the danger hidden in the song of the Lorelei.

17 Apr 00 - 06:02 PM (#213321)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: Susanne (skw)

John, I could imagine they left it out on the LP in order not to give the song too much popularity without the context of the scene in the film.
I've thought about your question since, and could also imagine that the similarity of the tunes is no coincidence. Maybe it was MEANT to demonstrate the Nazis' unscrupulous use of German traditions and cultural achievements to further their aims.
As to the Lorelei song: The Nazis realised its popularity and didn't try to suppress it. They simply printed it in song collections identified as 'trad'. There are still Germans who believe to this day the author is unknown. - Susanne

21 Apr 00 - 03:52 PM (#215706)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: MAG (inactive)

I don't see much similarity in the tunes --


21 Apr 00 - 07:13 PM (#215801)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: GUEST,johntm

Mag It is the beginning of the Stag in the Meadow tune that seemed to me to be very similar to the Lorelei. I asked my son, who is more musical than I, and he agreed. By the end the tunes are totally different.

Susanne--that is an interesting thought.

Chocolate Pi--that is great story

John T M

12 Feb 10 - 04:26 AM (#2836875)
Subject: Die Lorelei and Tomorrow Belongs To Me
From: Genie

Yes, as is explained in another thread here, the Nazis tried to suppress any aspect of German culture that had Jewish origins, and the lyrics to Die Lorelei were written by Heinrich Heine, who was a Jew. (I don't know if the music composer, Friedrich Silcher, was Jewish.) But the song was one of the most beloved of all German songs, so they could not really suppress or eradicate the song itself, so they rewrote history to say that the song was "traditional."

I too have often wondered if the tune Tomorrow Belongs To Me was a deliberate derivative of the tune to Die Lorelei -- even though, I agree, only the beginning music lines of the two songs sound much alike, though they are stylistically similar throughout.

12 Feb 10 - 04:40 AM (#2836881)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: MGM·Lion

Just to clarify - the song does appear in the stage show, sung by waiters in the KitKat club. In the film version, it is far more foregrounded, sung by a beautiful boy in a roadhouse, whose swastika armband only gradually comes into shot; the members of the audience join in one by one till all [except one disgruntled old man, obviously meant to be a veteran of the previous war] are joining in with 'Sieg~Heil' salutes. As they are driven away, Cliff says sarcastically to his German friend "Still think you can control them?"

Re the main topic of this thread: tune is not all that dissimilar to Die Lorelei, but by no means identical.

12 Feb 10 - 12:43 PM (#2837259)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei
From: MGM·Lion

BTW, has it occurred to anyone else that, as well as Die Lorelei, the song in Cabaret much resembles The Rout Of The Blues?

12 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM (#2837288)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Newport Boy

I haven't seen the film, but I have seen 2 stage productions. 'Tomorrow belongs to me' is from the original by Kander & Ebb.

Apart from the recordings often mentioned, Alex Harvey recorded it in the mid-70's and performed it at most of his concerts. He used it as an anti-Nazi song, and always sang it loudly and defiantly. (My son's musical choice, not mine)


12 Feb 10 - 07:35 PM (#2837684)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Ross Campbell

Lyrics here. for "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" (Kander & Ebb).

In the stage production, the MC sets up the song on a gramophone, with the waiters and MC coming in at appropriate points. In the film, it's presented like this:-

Cabaret - Tomorrow Belongs to Me

In 1987, even the assistance of Spitting Image in this Election Special failed to prevent Neil Kinnock and the Labour Party wresting defeat from the jaws of victory:-

Spitting Image Election Special - Tomorrow Belongs to Me

And if Alex Harvey sang it, it's gotta be OK to sing in folk clubs, right?

Not forgetting "Die Lorelei", one of a bunch of German folk-songs I learned at Balfron High School 1963-1967 from "Herr" Coupar, who could well have learned them thirty or forty years before that, overlapping the beginning of the Nazi era. "Du, du, liegst mir im Herzen" and "In Einem Kuhlen Grunde" are a couple of the others - anything that could be sung to the accompaniment of a swinging Stein seemed to be favoured. (Student Songs, maybe, rather than folk-songs, but widely popular).

Here's a version by one of my father's favourite singers, Richard Tauber:-

Die Lorelei -Richard Tauber, acc. Percy Kahn


12 Feb 10 - 09:40 PM (#2837794)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

I see the thread title has been expanded ~ OK, but WHY 'vs.'? In what way are the two songs to be regarded as rivals or at any sort of odds?

Anyone any comment on my suggestion above of melodic similarity to Rout Of The Blues?

12 Feb 10 - 11:28 PM (#2837837)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Ross Campbell

I'd agree about the thread title - "and" would be better than "vs".

"Tomorrow Belongs to Me" seems closer to "Rout of the Blues" than to the "Lorelei", but by no means are they all "the same tune".

Couldn't find the Dransfields' version on YouTube, but this rendition Rout of the Blues is fairly faithful to their arrangement.


12 Feb 10 - 11:37 PM (#2837838)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Genie

I don't know if there is a word or accepted term for it, but "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" is VERY reminiscent of the tune and feeling to "Die Lorelei," even if, note for note, it's not very similar.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon in music. A popular song spawns another that's hauntingly similar in style and feeling albeit perhaps sharing rather few notes and words.

Perhaps "derivative" is the best term. And I don't think it was accidental.

13 Feb 10 - 04:38 AM (#2837922)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Newport Boy

I suppose someone had to put the Nazi images with Alex Harvey's recording, but that wasn't the way it sounded live.

Not that I went to Alex Harvey gigs, but I dropped my 15-yr old son at the venue in Bristol at 8pm, walked down to the Old Duke for an evening of jazz, and came back to collect him at 10:45. To find that the crew were still setting up the sound system and the band would be on in 'about 20 minutes'.

I joined about 20 dads standing at the back waiting for sons, and 'enjoyed' 2 hours of Alex Harvey before driving home at 2am! Kids!!


13 Feb 10 - 03:06 PM (#2838367)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Lonesome EJ

Probably the best scene from the film here.

The way this is presented is fascinating. The song begins as a spontaneous song by a boy in a beergarden crowd, and the tune and mood are full of naive beauty and hope. It is only when the camera pans down to his Hitler Youth uniform that our mood abruptly shifts. The context wholly altered, we are still drawn with the beergarden crowd by the allure of the youthful optimism in the song, despite ourselves. That one scene probably says as much about how Hitler was able to send an entire nation down a path of genocide and war and ultimate collapse than anything else I have ever seen.

13 Feb 10 - 03:23 PM (#2838376)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

Yes indeed ~ and the polarisation created by the despair of the veteran who has seen it all before but realises that nobody will pay any heed to his pessimistic view of the way they are going, is a real emphasis of the tragedy of the situation.

13 Feb 10 - 04:34 PM (#2838444)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Peter K (Fionn)

It hit me the same way, Leej, as I said here a while back.

23 Feb 10 - 03:11 PM (#2847923)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion


23 Feb 10 - 03:21 PM (#2847936)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

Incidentally, EJ, I don't quite agree with your description of a boy singing 'a spontaneous song in a beergarden crowd'. He is actually employed as accompanied *cabaret* [note relationship to overall title], surely?: we see a long shot of him towards the end standing on a stage with a band behind him.

23 Feb 10 - 03:28 PM (#2847944)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

... and what is more there is a hint that the other party members who are the first to join in, obviously knowing the words, have been 'planted' in the audience to provide the chorus. In other words, are we not to see the whole thing as a pro-party set-up by the owners of the beergarden? Which will give additional point to Brian's bitter remark at the end to his German friend: "Still think you can control them?"

23 Feb 10 - 04:27 PM (#2848012)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: GUEST,leeneia

Genie, I agree with you that the tune is similar to 'Die Lorelei.' No doubt the movie makers figured that Lorelei was a tune many non-Germans would recognize. (Ode to Joy would have been better known, but that would be sacriligious.)

I watched the sequence on YouTube, and I find it smarmy and slick. Hindsight is always smarter than everything else.

The author of the 'die Lorelei' was Heinrich Heine, who opposed despotism and nationalism, but the movie industry doesn't want to talk about Germans like that. Horror sells better than courage.

02 Mar 10 - 08:17 AM (#2854016)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

Not sure where 'courage' would have come into it, as Heine was a Jew so his courageous oppositions would have had no appeal to 30s-40s German governments anyhow. What point you are making, leeneia, is by no means clear to me.

02 Mar 10 - 01:18 PM (#2854253)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: GUEST,leeneia

"smarmy and slick"

At the back of brain is an organ called the hypothalamus. For a little thing, it is in charge of a lot - the four F's - feeding, fighting, fleeing, and sexual reproduction. It is in charge of our survival, and it makes decisions fast. It also stirs up the viscera immediately.

Look at the video and ask yourself:

What does it do to me that I can't tell where the song is coming from?

What does it do to me that I can't figure out whether he's a boy or girl?

What does it do to me that he has on far too much makeup for a male character?

What does it do that his voice is wrong? He's supposed to be a starveling youth, but that's the voice of a trained chorister, maybe 13 years old.

How likely is it that a crowd of beer drinkers will fall silent instantly and pay close attention to someone else?

I despise it because it pretends to be making a political or ethical point, but it's actually just manipulating our guts.

02 Mar 10 - 01:45 PM (#2854282)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

Who says he's supposed to be 'a starveling youth'? He is a paid and employed cabaret singer & also political propagandist; so would be trained chorister. [See my post above of 23 feb 03.21 + subsequent]. The audience fall silent because, a. he is so good (dammit); b. several of them are 'plants' ~ see second of above cited posts.

& you haven't explained where the Jewish Heine fits into your argument whatever! Have a feeling you just intro'd him to 'manipulate our guts' ~ he doesn't fit into your assertions at all that I can see.

02 Mar 10 - 01:55 PM (#2854292)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

... & if, incidentally, you have only watched the sequence on Utube & not in context of film as a whole, then frankly I do not think you know of what you speak & it would be seemly on your part ········

28 Sep 10 - 04:11 PM (#2995474)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: GUEST,fran

I seem to remember the same tomorrow belongs to me song in the movie version of the sound of music? yes or no

29 Sep 10 - 06:32 AM (#2995908)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Bonnie Shaljean

Re the sequence & context of the film: The most chilling moment for me is just afterwards, as the two male characters are leaving the beer garden and getting into the car, and the German turns to Michael York and says - quietly - "Still think they're harmless?"

The other thing that has always struck me about this scene is how clearly it portrays the contagious nature of emotion (and how frighteningly powerful & persuasive a good song can be), and how rational thought can get so completely bypassed by it.

Fran - I think you must be thinking of Edelweiss, with its "bless my homeland forever" line. Interesting juxtaposition, though -

29 Sep 10 - 06:38 AM (#2995912)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Bonnie Shaljean

Whoa, sorry MGM - just saw where you've already made that point. Wooops...

29 Sep 10 - 07:35 AM (#2995948)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Fred McCormick

For me Cabaret is one of the greatest movies ever made, and that scene in the beer garden still scares me and horrifies me almost forty years after I first saw it. I've just tried watching it now via the link which someone posted above, and couldn't. I had to turn it off.

What makes it so chilling is not just the singer, who I think pitches it a litte too high, or the way the camera pans down to bring the swastika into view, but the way the crowd and the band pick it up, with the former gradually rising to their feet and singing louder and louder until they are literally yelling the words.

And this played out against a hauntingly beautiful melody and stunningly beautiful countryside. The nazis of course made great play of their volks heritage, and I presume we are meant to assume that the tune is a German folk melody.

BTW. I went to a jazz session a couple of nights ago, in which the band played a song called Auf Wiedersehen. Comes the final chorus and the singer started performing nazi salutes. What the hell did he think he was playing at?

27 Oct 10 - 01:17 AM (#3016455)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me

Tomorrow Belongs to Me is almost identical to the Italian-American Christmas Carol Gesu Bambino written by Pietro Yon in 1917.

27 Oct 10 - 08:49 AM (#3016660)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Genie

Not really, GUEST.   The two tunes don't sound that similar to me at all. I guess the first few bars of "Gesu Bambino" and "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" are structurally similar but I think the melodies are quite different. (Then, of course, "Gesu Bambino" veers off into a couple bars of the chorus of "O Come, All Ye Faithful," which separates its tune further.)

23 Mar 11 - 03:34 PM (#3119983)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Genie

BTW, re Heinrich Heine's being "courageous" and against despotism and nationalism, that well may be true, but he wrote the lyrics to "Die Lorelei" about a century before Hitler was on the scene.

23 Mar 11 - 05:39 PM (#3120042)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Genie

FWIW, I just realized what the main tune similarity is between these two songs.   The composer of "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" basically lifted the 1st 4 bars of "Die Lorelie" and used them for the 2nd 4 bars of his song for the Hitler Youth to sing in "Cabaret."

21 Jun 11 - 03:30 AM (#3173701)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: MGM·Lion

Refresh re Favourite Musical Scenes in Film thread,

27 May 18 - 02:37 AM (#3927304)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me

Rather than the "Tomorrow belongs to me" song, I'm interested in the folk tune played on the accordion immediately before it. Does anyone know the name of that tune?

27 May 18 - 10:38 PM (#3927500)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Joe Offer

Gee, I don't recognize that accordion tune at all. The movie credits don't have much information and don't list the song credits like current movies do. It's not in a book on Broadway show songs that I have, either - or at

28 May 18 - 12:13 PM (#3927622)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: GUEST,keberoxu

Good luck hunting down that accordion piece.

Earlier on this thread, the discussion of the German song,
"Die Lorelei," referred not only to poet Heinrich Heine
but the composer Friedrich Silcher.

There are Wikipedia articles on Silcher's life and career in at least
three languages: German, Dutch, and English.
Thanks to looking up the articles through the Google search engine,
I could look at the German-language Wikipedia article in English translation,
since my German is pretty shabby.

The question was raised if Silcher was, like Heine, Jewish. Not that I can tell.
And this is the perfect moment to remind you,
that Heine's lyric poetry was sought after by German-language composers
of every sort.
Heine, regardless of Jewish ancestry, is one of the German-language poets
most frequently set to music, rivalling Goethe and all the others.
Someone who isn't as lazy as me,
has probably done the calculations, but I don't have the figures.

Now, as to the composer.
His full name was Philipp Friedrich Silcher. The German-speaking region of his origins
is known as Swabia, somebody else will have to say where is Swabia.
Once I get outside of Prussia or Bavaria, I lose my orientation
(for that matter, I confuse Bavaria and Prussia anyhow, but never mind).

An earlier post on this thread name-checked the song,
"In einem kühlen Grunde." I don't know the poet,
but this song is also composed by Friedrich Silcher.
Silcher's dates are 1789 - 1860.

Friedrich Silcher came of age just as the German-language countries
were cultivating vocal music, in the German language, in a big way,
and he somewhat rode the crest of this wave of fashion.
Silcher wrote more vocal music than anything else,
although some compositions are preserved
in other categories.

As in so much vocal music settings of German-language texts,
the Silcher oeuvre comes in two forms:
solo-voice songs or arrangement,
and the "Gesangverein" and "Tafel-lieder" genre
of vocal ensembles.

The older composers who mentored him, knew of the music of Mozart,
and Silcher at a young age took a keen interest in Mozart's compositions.

Just looked over at Wikipedia to see more about the geography.
"Swabia" may be the old ethnic designation, but
in Friedrich Silcher's day, his life and career were spent in
the Kingdom of Württemberg;
this German-language kingdom was just west of Bavaria,
and extended as far south as the Bodensee
which brings one to Switzerland.

28 May 18 - 12:50 PM (#3927637)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: keberoxu

Okay, those of you with no interest in Friedrich Silcher,
composer of a popular melody for "Die Lorelei,"
can skip this post.
I felt ashamed that I knew nothing about "Swabia"
so I looked it up.

The region identified as "Swabia" goes back to the Middle Ages.
What we know as "hochdeutsch" or formal/official German language
was still taking shape at this time.
So there exists a form of German which is a Swabian dialect,
a regional thing.

Swabia was never a kingdom by itself,
but at one point there was a Duchy of Swabia.
The border between Swabia and Bavaria ("Bayern") has fluctuated at times.
The intruders who were most determined to conquer and assimilate Swabia
were from the Frankish empire,
and the Burgundians also figure in conflicts.

Actually the Swabians as a distinct group of people
were remarked upon by Tacitus and Ptolemy during the Roman Empire.

28 May 18 - 01:18 PM (#3927648)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: Thompson

I'm interested in the cynical old gent who is the only one immune to the siren song of the beautiful choirboy.

(By the way, a side note: choirboys starve too when there is famine.)

The old man seems to me a classic portrayal of the old Jewish trade unionist, the kind of person who in New York would have been a Wobbly. He has courage right to the bone - nothing is going to make him rise to his feet when all others have, because he recognises the fascism of the song and the singer.

In him, we're looking at a portrait of the walking dead. If he's not murdered as he leaves the cafe, during a "spontaneous street riot", he will certainly be shipped to a camp and murdered within months.

If you want to know the name of the accordion tune, post a clip of it on Twitter or Facebook and six people will probably come right back to you within the hour with the name.

11 Sep 19 - 09:06 PM (#4008450)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: GUEST,Andy_M

It is maybe ironic that "Die Lorelei" was itself originally written as a tongue in cheek parody on the type of popular songs with a nationalist slant that were being composed in large numbers in Heine's day. Later generations failed to notice the irony and the song thus ended up becoming the type of song it was parodying. Silcher's tune (which Heine didn't approve of) doesn't help in this respect.

Maybe "Tomorrow belongs to us" is in danger of similarly turning into what it was composed to warn against?

14 Sep 19 - 08:18 AM (#4008794)
Subject: RE: The Lorelei vs. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
From: GUEST,Brian Grayson

Incidentally, both 'Edelweiss' and 'Tomorrow Belongs to Me' are used to chilling effect in the TV adaptation of 'The Man in the High Castle', the former as the intro and the latter in Season 2.