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Songs

Songs

Es war einmal ein König

Es war einmal ein König

Es war einmal ein König
Der hatt' einen großen Floh
Den liebt' er gar nicht wenig
Als wie seinen eig'nen Sohn.
Da rief er seinen Scheider,
Der Schneider kam heran;
"Da, miß dem Junker Kleider
Und miß ihm Hosen an!"
In Sammet und in Seide
War er nun angetan,
Hatte Bänder auf dem Kleide,
Hatt' auch ein Kreuz daran,
Und war sogleich Minister,
Und hatt einen großen Stern.
Da wurden seine Geschwister
Bei Hof auch große Herrn.
Und Herrn and Frau'n am Hofe,
Die waren sehr geplagt,
Die Königin und die Zofe
Gestochen und genagt,
Und durften sie nicht knicken,
Und weg sie jucken nicht,
Wir knicken und ersticken
Doch gleich, wenn einer sticht.

There once was a king

There once was a king
Who had a large flea
Whom he loved not a little,
Just like his own son.
He summoned his tailor,
The tailor appeared:
'Here - make robes for this knight
And make him breeches too!'
In silk and satin
The flea was now attired,
With ribbons on his coat,
And a medal too,
And became a minister straightaway
And wore an enormous star.
His brothers and his sisters
Became grand at court as well.
And courtly lords and ladies
Were most grievously plagued,
Queen and maid-in-waiting
Were bitten and stung,
Yet they were not allowed
To squash or scratch them away -
We bow and scrape and suffocate,
As soon as any bite.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

Composer

Ferruccio Busoni (1 April 1866 – 27 July 1924) was an Italian composer, pianist, conductor, editor, writer, and teacher. His international career and reputation led him to work closely with many of the leading musicians, artists and literary figures of his time, and he was a sought-after keyboard instructor and a teacher of composition.

From an early age, Busoni was an outstanding if sometimes controversial pianist. He studied at the Vienna Conservatory and then with Wilhelm Mayer and Carl Reinecke. After brief periods teaching in Helsinki, Boston, and Moscow, he devoted himself to composing, teaching, and touring as a virtuoso pianist in Europe and the United States. His writings on music were influential, and covered not only aesthetics but considerations of microtones and other innovative topics. He was based in Berlin from 1894 but spent much of World War I in Switzerland.

He began composing in his early years in a late romantic style, but after 1907, when he published his Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, he developed a more individual style, often with elements of atonality. His visits to America led to interest in North American indigenous tribal melodies which were reflected in some of his works. His compositions include works for piano, among them a monumental Piano Concerto, and transcriptions of the works of others, notably Johann Sebastian Bach (published as the Bach-Busoni Editions). He also wrote chamber music, vocal and orchestral works, and operas—one of which, Doktor Faust, he left unfinished when he died, in Berlin, at the age of 58.

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Poet

Johann Wolfgang Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him exist. A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August in 1782 after first taking up residence there in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang literary movement. During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe served as a member of the Duke's privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions, oversaw the reopening of silver mines in nearby Ilmenau, and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena. He also contributed to the planning of Weimar's botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace, which in 1998 were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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