Der Demutsahne

Complete Work Title: 

Der Demutsahne (The Humility-forbear) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo guitar




for Matthew Elgart

Date Composed: 

September - October 2008; edited January 2013 by Joseph Mirandilla

Performance Information: 

Solo works from this collection may be programmed as a set, or in conjunction with the semi-improvisational, open-form works Canetti-menagerie (for five to eight instruments) or Conversations (for two to four instruments), which use these works as source material for improvisational interplay.

Additional Information: 
  • Edited by Joseph Mirandilla.
  • Included on the album Improbable Encounters (innova 873, 2014).
  • This work is part of a collection of solo works based on character studies in Elias Canetti's book Der Ohrenzeuge (Earwitness).

Performance/Broadcast History: 
  • 11 April 2019; University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

    Aaron Dozal, guitar

  • 19 September 2016; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

    Chaz Underriner, guitar

  • 27 April 2014; Tarrant County College Northeast (Hurst, TX)
  • 22 April 2014; Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX)

    Michael Morey, guitar

  • 22 April 2013; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

    Armin Abdihodzic, guitar

  • 26 May 2012; Sichaun Conservatory of Music (Chengdu, China) [premiere]

    Joseph Mirandilla, guitar

Program Notes: 

Der Demutsahne ("The Humility-forebear") is the tenth 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, begun in 1997, was inspired by the vividly surreal depictions of Canetti’s characters, and comprises twenty-two solo works to date—composed for familiar instruments such as violin, guitar, piano, and trombone, as well as less common instruments such as ocarina, cimbalom, glass harmonica, and carillon.  In Canetti's depiction of this character, The Humility-forbear "twists from one submission to another… He knows that a person who is eager to die will practice submission early on, and the trick is to live in the teeth of this insight.... [He] practices bearing up under his hardship... [and] does it so well that he is sometimes pricked by malice; then he succeeds in intercepting a hardship before it properly arrives."

Der Demutsahne was composed in September of 2008 for guitarist Matthew Elgart, and first performed on 26 May 2012 at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music (Chengdu, China) by guitarist Joseph Mirandilla. It is included on the album Improbable Encounters (innova 873, 2014).