Friedrich Cerha

I. Keintate

I. Keintate
for middle voice (chansonnier) and instruments based on Viennese sayings by Ernst Klein
Vocal Music
Gesang und Instrumentalensemble
Number of performers
2 A-clarinets (1st also E flat-clarinet, 2nd also B flat-bass clarinet) · 2 F- horns · percussion (1 performer) · accordion · 2 violins · viola · cello · double bass
Composition year(s)
World premiere
Vienna, Metropol Theatre · HK Gruber, baritone · Friedrich Cerha and friends
1. Heans inas au

I. part:
2. Bei da bost
3. Waun i da keisa gwesn waa
4. Da himme fia uns weana
5. Waasd no
6. Di sun is ma zhaas
7. Im grund bin i a guada loodsch
8. I hoid di
9. Waunsd amoi
10. An lipizana
11. De darm san in de katakombm
12. Intermezzo: Marsch

II. part
13. A leich aum otagringa friidhof
14. I hob a wax heaz
15. Waun i sinia
16. Aufschbringa deafst ned
17. Do sans maschiad
18. Glauma des
19. Gee nua eine
20. A glosaug miasd ma haum
21. De retung und de feiawea
22. Intermezzo: Marsch

III. part
23. Daas ma laud
24. Di daunau gibds
25. Waunsda fua augn hoidsd
26. Schee woans jo ned
27. Daas ma oft de foam wexln
28. Waun i a beefleisch iis
29. De fassldiwla
30. Des ringlgschbü
31. Beredn dan sas
32. Di schlechte zeid

IV. part
33. De ringldaum
34. Fois se a fremda san
35. I woa scho
36. De gmiadlichkeit
37. Intermezzo: Galopp
38. Wauma uns min dreg
39. Intermezzo: Polka
40. I sog da
41. Wauni singa kent
42. Zeascht schtingn de kaneu
43. Mi kenan olle
44. Intermezzo
45. Wia ma seinazeid
46. A fiatl
47. Fria hob i glaubt
48. Da wagna jaurek
49. Waun an fiamling
Extra title
dedicatee: Dr. Rudolf Falkner
Comment of the composer on the work

As a young person I used to perform Viennese folk music as second violinist in suburban establishments of Hernals in pre-war Vienna; among them were academies, balls, weddings and banquets. In the 80s I started to engage myself with non-European folk music; around that time, when I was once again browsing in the Viennese poems of my friend Ernst Kein, I suddenly realised that, as a composer, I had so far completely ignored Viennese folk music, although I had been carrying it inside me from early childhood. I wanted to change this. Thus, parallel to finishing my opera Baal, I wrote the I. Keintate.

The title is an amalgam of “Kantate” („cantata“), i. e. something to sing, and the name of Ernst Kein, the author of its text. The text I have set to music is taken from his volumes Wiener Panoptikum and Wiener Grottenbahn. Before the premiere at the Metropol theatre (1983), a bar that reminds of the suburban “establishments“ frequented by Johann Strauß at that time, I said to the audience (which knew me from other circumstances): “After the rehearsal of Keintate I was asked whether I took seriously what I was doing. This question took me by surprise, and it deserves a serious reply. I did not want to make fun of the folk music models. I did not want to improve them or use them as a joke. They simply provided a basis. I have taken them up in order to return to a distance, often an ironic distance, by stylising and defamiliarizing them. Furthermore, I wanted to investigate the models. One should not confuse this fundamental attitude with the kind of naivety that does not know what cliché means“. This is also Ernst Kein's opinion, who observes how people talk and takes up phrases of this dialect jargon in order to emphasise them by exaggerating. This is where the main difference between this literature and the one of H. C. Artmann lies: while Artmann’s vernacular poems distil poetry from the Viennese folk milieu, Kein takes up the “literal” meaning and exaggerates the reality.

The musical models take up well-known melodies and cite them, such as allusions to O du lieber Augustin and O du mein Österreich in No 4 („Der Himmel für uns Wiener...“) or Wien, Wien, nur du allein in No 34 („Falls Sie ein Fremder sind...“). But more often I take the characteristic inflection of Viennese folk music and interweave its elements. The orchestration (2 clarinets, 2 horns, string quintet, accordion and percussion) aims to create sounds that are reminiscent of a “Heurigenpartie“.

By de-familiarizing more and more of its elements during the last section, this piece documents an essential layer of Vienna’s mentality. Thus, the number of resolutions as well as delirium, fatalism and death of the piece start to dominate – ancient topics of folk and Viennese art.

Not only do colour slides that feature a translation into standard German and English (the latter was done by Ernst Krenek) exist, but also a series of slides after pictures of Franz Hubmann, who has created the well-known illustrated books about Vienna, which are unique in their artistic quality. Thus the I. Keintate is continuously accompanied by expressive, poetic or also sarcastic pictures of Viennese types and scenes. The combination of music and pictures has so far been extraordinarily suitable for performances in foreign countries, for representing a realistic Vienna without weakening its force of attraction.

Friedrich Cerha