Saturday, 19 December 2009

Alternative Xmas - anti war Lieder

Just because it's Xmas we don't all want supermarket soundtrack muzak. So I'll be doing a few alternative seasonal offerings, with original translations if possible. (Please also see what I did last December, especially the wonderful Dem Revolutinär Jesus vom Geburtstag. This is another song by Hanns Eisler, and sung by Ernst Busch, but this time a setting of a poem by Kurt Tucholsky. It's 1918. Germany has been defeated, there's been a revolution, people are suffering, many of them displaced.This is a reminder that war isn't glory and also that the British western front didn't get all the good songs. Eisler's glittery flittergold piano trembles and then disintegrates like broken glass. In this 1950's performance, Busch updates the text to say that he'll hang the Adenauers in the branches of the tree, and blames racism. As for Tucholsky, he committed suicide in 1933. He saw what was coming.

"I'm standing in front of the rubble of Germany, singing a Christmas song. What's round me was once the envy of the world. It's different now, we grumble. I hum, quietly, hardly noticing the refrain of my childhood, O Tannenbaum!"

"If I was Knecht Ruprecht ( the chimney sweep that follows St Nicholas) come to this Brimborium (jumble), I'd show the German public, I'd sweep it all away. The last crumb onto the snow, the alley brushed clean. I'd festoon it with your branches, O Tannebaum!"

"I look at the Knisterkerzen (paper decorations) . Whose fault is this misery? Why have we had such blood and pain? Germans with the patience of lambs now live as brothers of the cannon. I dreamed my old dream: strike down the the warmongers, don't believe those brutes anymore! Then sing in freedom the Christmas song O Tannenbaum ! O Tannenbaum! how your leaves shine !"

The photo shows "Ostpreussiche Flüchtlinge" on their arrival in Elbing during the First World War. See the carts pulled by horses, farmers fleeing from the east. Click to enlarge. Soon afterwards, Elbingers would be refugees too.

1 comment:

leonora said...

Thanks very much for this!