Der Gottprotz

Complete Work Title: 

Der Gottprotz (The God-swanker) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo organ




for Jesse Eschbach

Date Composed: 

August 1999; April 2013 - December 2014

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: 
  • 27 January 2024; University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
  • 6 October 2023; Michigan State University Alumni Memorial Chapel (East Lansing, MI)
  • 4 October 2023; Christ Church Detroit (Detroit, MI)
  • 3 October 2023; University of Michigan Hill Auditorium (Ann Arbor, MI) — 63rd Annual University of Michigan Organ Conference
  • 6 February 2020; Trinity University Parker Chapel (San Antonio, TX)
  • 26 October 2018; University of North Texas, Murchison Performing Arts Center Winspear Hall (Denton, TX) [premiere]

    S. Andrew Lloyd, organ

Program Notes: 

Der Gottprotz (The God-swanker) is the thirteenth 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 description of this character, "The God-swanker is a handsome man, with a voice and a mane.... [He] never has to ask himself what is correct, he looks it up in the Book of Books.... He does not have to worry about contradictions, they stand him in good stead.... When the God-swanker waxes furious... [he] stations himself erect with a bloated voice-sack as though standing personally on Mount Sinai and thunders and threatens and spews and flashes and shakes the riffraff to tears."

Der Gottprotz was completed in December 2014 and was first performed on 26 October 2018 at the University of North Texas Murchison Performing Arts Center Winspear Hall by organist S. Andrew Lloyd.