Die Mannsprächtige

Complete Work Title: 

Die Mannsprächtige (The Man-splendid Woman) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo harp


c. 6:00


for Jaymee Haefner

Date Composed: 

May-June 2023

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.

Program Notes: 

Die Mannsprächtige (The Man-splendid Woman ) is the twenty-second 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, 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 man-splendid woman ''likes to stand... slowly lifting her arm aloft, and holding it aloft with a carefully studied gesture. When all the onlookers close their dazzled eyes, she drops her arm.... She does not say a word, what could she say anyway to heighten her splendor, she holds her tongue, and her silence speaks volumes.... Perfection belongs to no one and requires distance, that, and that alone, is why she stares into the distance.''

Die Mannsprächtige was composed in May-June 2023 for harpist Jaymee Haefner.