Der Fehlredner

Complete Work Title: 

Der Fehlredner (The Misspeaker) — character study after Elias Canetti


Performance Medium: 

solo cimbalom


Duration: 

c.6:30


Dedication: 

for Christopher Deane


Date Composed: 

February-March 2018; revised June 2019


Additional Information: 
  • This work is part of a collection of solo works based on character studies in Elias Canetti's book Der Ohrenzeuge (Earwitness).
  • 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.

Performance/Broadcast History: 
  • 11 April 2018; Moody Performance Hall (Dallas, TX) [premiere]

    Christopher Deane, cimbalom


Program Notes: 

Der Fehlredner (The Misspeaker) is the seventeenth in a series of short works for solo instrument based upon characters from 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 misspeaker "looks for people who do not know what he is talking about… stopping in front of this man or that man, throwing out a pointless lure, observing his effect, and it is only when perceiving the desired bafflement that he starts blazing away and is elevated to his chaos… he feels he can confuse everyone now, his mood heightens to the darkest inspiration, the atmosphere around him is alive with oracles."

Der Fehlredner was composed in February and March of 2018 for percussionist Christopher Deane, who first performed the work on 11 April 2018 at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, Texas.