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Des Knaben Wunderhorn – Der Tambourg’sell (The Drummer Boy)

Listening Guide

The Work


Key: D minor (E minor in piano version), with modulations to G minor and A minor, ending in C minor (D minor in piano version).
Tempo: Gemessen, dumpf (nicht schleppen) (measured, muffled (without dragging))
Time Signature: 2/2 (alla breve)
Form: strophic with rondo-like elements in several reprises of the opening theme.
Orchestration: strings omitted, except for cellos and double-basses; emphasis on lowest registers of woodwinds and use of military’ instruments (e.g., snare drum, bass drum, horns, tuba) throughout.

Ich armer Tambourg’sell!
Man führt mich aus dem G’wölb.
Wär’ ich ein Tambour blieben,
Dürft’ ich nicht gefangen liegen.

O Galgen, du hohes Haus,
Du siehst so furchtbar aus.
Ich schau’ dich nicht mehr an,
Weil I’ weiß, daß I’ g’hör’ dran.

Wenn Soldaten vorbei marschiern,
Bei mir not einquartiern,
Wenn sie fragen, wer I’ g’wesen bin:
Tambour von der Leibkompanie!

Gute Nacht, ihr Marmelstein’,
Ihr Berg’ und Hügelein!
Gute nacht, ihr Offizier’,
Korporal’ und Musketier’!
Gute Nacht, ihr Offizier’,
Korporal’ und Grenadier’!

Ich schrei mit heller Stimm’,
Gute Nacht! Gute Nacht!
Von euch ich Urlaub nimm.

A poor drummer boy am I!
They are taking me from my cell.
Had I remained a drummer boy,
I would not have lain in prison.

Oh gallows, that stand so high,
How fearful you appear!
I shall look at you no more.
Yet I know that you are where I belong.

When the soldiers march past
To other quarters than mine
And when they ask who I was
Say a Drummer of the King’s regiment.

Good night you stones of marble,
You hills and high mountains,
Good night you officers,
Corporals and musketeers!
Good night you officers,
Corporals and grenadiers!

I cry loud and clear,
From you I take a soldier’s leave.
Good night, good night!

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