Kurt Weinzierl/Kurt Tucholsky: An das Publikum

Written by Naomi Louisa O'Connell


In category: Song of the Day

Published February 23, 2017

Kurt Tucholsky once wrote “A country is not only what it does, but what it tolerates.”

What important words for us to remember right now.  The song I have chosen for today is ugly and it should be.  The text is vital for our society right now; with all the splash and cry of “fake news”, “alternative facts” and the all-too-comfortable liberal social media bubble I find myself in, I needed a wake-up call.  If you don’t speak German, read the translation below before listening.

To the Public (1931)
– Kurt Tucholsky

Dear, dear public,
tell me: Are you really as dumb,
as we hear every day
from all the businessmen?
Directors on their fat behinds
say: “It’s what the public wants!”
The men in film: “What can I do?
The public wants these saccharine things!”
Publishers shrug their shoulders and say:
“Good books don’t sell!”
Tell me, dear public:
Are you really that dumb?

So dumb, the newspapers, morning and late,
hold less and less to read?
Anxious someone might be offended;
In fear, no one must be incited;
Apprehensive that Müller and Cohn
might threaten with cancellation?
Nervous that finally
some organization will come
and protest and denounce
and demonstrate and litigate…
Tell me, dear public:
Are you really that dumb?

Well then…
On our time weighs
the curse of mediocrity.
Have you such a weak stomach?
Truth disagrees with you?
You’ll only eat mush?
Well, then…
Well, you deserve what you get.

Translation by Indeterminacy

select author’s name to read all of their posts

Hailed by The New York Times as “radiant,” Irish mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O’Connell deftly balances her love of opera with that of art song, musical theater and popular song with repertoire ranging from Schumann, Strauss and Ravel to Bernstein, Gershwin and Randy Newman. An alumna of the NYFOS@Juilliard residency, Naomi returns to NYFOS this week in Picnic Cantata/Dinner at Eight on Tuesday, February 21 at Merkin Concert Hall. To follow Naomi on Facebook, click here.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *