The Popocatepetl rap
September 27, 2007
While Chris was reading a back copy of the London Review of Books in the bath last night, he came across a reference to Ernst Toch, an Austrian-Jewish composer who in 1930 wrote a fugue for voices, known in English as The Geographical Fugue. The extraordinary thing about it is, this is a composition for spoken voices.
You live and learn! Looking this up on the Internet at my husband’s request, I made another gratifying discovery, an amusing article about the composer by his grandson, Lawrence Weschler, in The Threepenny Review, who calls The Geographical Fugue a kind of “Weimar rap”!
Here’s how the German version goes (I’m thinking of introducing this to our Konversationsgruppe):
Fuge aus der Geographie
Und der Fluss Mississippi
und die Stadt Honolulu
und der See Titicaca;
Der Popocatepetl liegt nicht in Kanada,
sondern in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico.
Kanada, Malaga, Rimini, Brindisi,
Kanada, Malaga, Rimini, Brindisi.
Ja! Athen, Athen, Athen, Athen,
By clicking here you can hear a short excerpt. Clever, isn’t it?
In case anybody was wondering, Ratibor is the German name for a town in Silesia, now in Poland.