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Des Knaben Wunderhorn – Lob Des Hohen Verstandes (In Praise Of High Intellect)

Listening Guide

The Work

Key: D major (E major in the piano version)
Tempo: Keck (arrogantly)
Time Signature: 2/4
Form: Simple strophic form (AAABA)

Einstmals in einem tiefen Tal
Kuckuck und Nachtigall
Täten ein Wett’ anschlagen
Gewinn’ es Kunst, gewinn’ es Glück,
Zu singen um das Meisterstück.
Dank soll er davon tragen.

Der Kuckuck sprach: ‘So dir’s gefällt
Hab’ ich den Richter wählt.’
Und tät gleich den Esel ernennen!
‘Denn weil er hat zwei Ohren gross
So kann er hören desto bos
Und was recht ist kennen!’

Sie flogen vor den Richter bald.
Wie dem die Sache ward erzählt,
Schuf er, sie sollten singen!
Die Nachtigall sang lieblich aus!

Der Esel sprach: ‘Du machst mir’s kraus!
Ija! Ija! Ich kann’s in Kopf nicht bringen.’
Der Kuckuck drauf fing an geschwind
Sein Sang durch Terz und Quart und Quint.
Kuckuck, kuckuck, ija!’
Mein Urteil will ich sprechen.

Wohl sungen hast du, Nachtigall!
Aber Kuckuck singst gut Choral
Und hällst den Takt fein innen.
Das sprech’ ich nach mein’ hoh’n Verstand
Und kost’ es gleich ein ganzes land,
So lass ich’s dich gewinnen.
Dem Esel g’fiels, er sprach nur: ‘Wart!’

Once upon a time in a deep valley
The cuckoo and the nightingale
Between them made a wager
Which one could sing the better song.
Whomsoever skill or fortune favored,
He should have the mastery.

The cuckoo said, ‘If it please you
I have already chosen the judge.’
And he straightaway named the donkey!
‘For as he has two big ears,
All the better to know what is bad
And tell it apart from what is good!’

They flew away to the judge.
And told him how the matter stood.
He commanded them to sing.
The nightingale sang sweetly.

The donkey said: ‘This is too intricate for me.
Hee-haw. I cannot grasp it all.’
The cuckoo then quickly began
His song through thirds and fourths and fifths.
It pleased the donkey. he just said: ‘Wait
While I pronounce my verdict.

You have sung well, Nightingale;
But you, cuckoo, have sung a fine chorale
And you keep the strictest measure.
I speak from the height of great intellect
And though it should cost me a whole country,
I judge you to be the winner.
Cuckoo, cuckoo, hee-haw.’

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