5 Schwitters Songs

2005 10 minutes
soprano, contralto and piano — or tenor, bass and piano
Text Kurt Schwitters
Dedicated to Andres Giedion
 Villa Giedion, Zurich, Switzerland
 Old Conservatory, Zurich, Switzerland

5 Schwitters Songs for Andres for Soprano, Contralto and Piano

Written for Andres Giedion's 80th Birthday

Andres Giedion was Brigitte’s boss at the Kinderspital Zürich when we first met (1966). After a visit he made to NZ in 1968 we became “du” friends, a friendship which has strengthened over the years. Recently he told us that Kurt Schwitters had visited his parents a number of times when he was small (his mother, Carola Giedion-Welker, a well known art critic and his father, Siegfried Giedion, a famous architect both had good contacts to many famous artists of their time including James Joyce, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters who were often visitors at their Zürichberg Villa (where Andres’s 80th birthday party also took place). He also had a large and impressive collage by Schwitters in his collection of paintings. All this meant that the choice of Schwitter’s texts (which was Brigitte’s idea) was a very appropriate one for this celebration.

Four of the texts are German and the fifth English:

1. Zwölf—a whole-tone counting song


2. So, so!—nursery song with atonal accompaniment

So, so!

3. Das Urgebet der Scholle—a sibilant song

Das Urgebet der Scholle

4. Sie puppt mit Puppen—fast with irregular rhythms

Sie puppt mit Puppen

5. What a a what a b what a beauty—mock jazz

What a a what a b