Die Müde

Complete Work Title: 

Die Müde (The Tired Woman) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo alto saxophone




to Eric Nestler

Date Composed: 

September 2004

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: 
  • 9 March 2023; Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL)

    Thomas Snydacker, alto saxophone

  • 12 December 2021; Arc Project Online Festival (York, UK)

    Scott Sandberg, saxophone

  • 24 March 2021; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

    Cehuai Zheng, saxophone

  • 23 April 2019; Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
  • 22 April 2019; Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX)

    Kyle Stec, saxophone

  • 29 April 2014; Tarrant County College, Southeast (Arlington, TX)

    Richard Smiley, saxophone

  • 4 November 2007; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • 20 August 2007; China Agricultural University (Beijing, China) — 2007 China International Clarinet and Saxophone Festival
  • 16 August 2007; Henan Province Saxophone Festival (Zhengzhou, China)
  • 6 July 2006; Linhart Hall of Cankarjev dom, Cultural and Congress Centre (Ljubljana, Slovenia) — 14th World Saxophone Congress

    Eric Nestler, saxophone

  • 12 September 2005; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • 11 September 2005; Dallas Public Library (Dallas, TX)
  • 6 September 2005; Texas Woman’s University (Denton, TX)

    Chiaki Hanafusa, saxophone

  • 19 October 2004; University of North Texas (Denton, TX) [premiere]

    Eric Nestler, saxophone

Program Notes: 

Die Müde (The Tired Woman) is the seventh 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 Tired Woman "is no longer young, she is not all that old either, but old enough to sigh over too much work"; but when angered, "she flares up and starts yelping and screeching away in her language, and keeps yelping and yelping tirelessly… All her sentences end shrilly on a very high note… When she finally collapses on her seat, she peers around, her eyes begging for pity, and whimpers: 'Tired.'"

Die Müde was composed in September of 2004 for saxophonist Eric Nestler, who first performed the work at the University of North Texas on 19 October 2004.