Die Tischtuchtolle

Complete Work Title: 

Die Tischtuchtolle (The Tablecloth Lunatic) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo violin



Date Composed: 

August 1997; revised December 2010

Performance History: 

Andrew May, violin:
• 11 April 2018; Moody Performance Hall (Dallas, TX)
• 19 September 2016; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

Zhao Song, violin:
• 26 May 2012; Sichuan Conservatory of Music (Chengdu, China)

Felix Olschofka, violin:
• 16 September 2011; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

Maria Schleuning, violin:
• 6 March 2011; Voices of Change Salon Concert (Dallas, TX)

Gloria Vela, violin:
• 5 December 2007; Tarrant County Community College (North Richland Hills, TX)

Susan Demetris, violin:
• 22 April 2007; Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (Dallas, TX) — Akeru Ensemble concert

Nagina Stoyanova, violin:
• 17 November 2001; Sofia Municipal Gallery of Art (Sofia, Bulgaria) — American Music Week in Bulgaria [premiere]

Program Notes: 

Die Tischtuchtolle ("The Tablecloth Lunatic") is the second in a series of short works for solo instrument based upon characters in Der Ohrenzeuge: Fünfzig Charaktere ("Earwitness: Fifty Characters"), written in 1974 by the Bulgarian-born British-Austrian novelist Elias Canetti (1905-1994). Canetti’s distinctive studies incorporate poetic imagery, singular insights, and unabashed wordplay to create fifty ironic paradigms of human behavior. This collection of works, begun in 1997, was inspired by the vividly surreal depictions of Canetti’s characters and includes works for contrabass, violin, bass flute, ocarina, contrabassoon, glass harmonica, trumpet, percussion, bass saxophone, piccolo, organ, basset horn, and violoncello, among others.  In Canetti's depiction of this character, The Tablecloth Lunatic "is dazzling white and breathes in linen. Her fingers are strict, her eyes angular." However, when she happens upon a spot in the linens she obsessively inspects, "she turns dangerous, like a poisonous snake. Now she opens her mouth and shows dreadful fangs. Now she hisses before striking, the tiny spot takes its life into its hands."

Die Tischtuchtolle was composed in October of 1997 and was first performed by violinist Nagina Stoyanova in Sofia, Bulgaria on 17 November 2001. It is included on the album Improbable Encounters (innova 873, 2014).