Die Tischtuchtolle

Complete Work Title: 

Die Tischtuchtolle (The Tablecloth Lunatic) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo violin



Date Composed: 

August 1997; revised December 2010

Additional Information: 
  • 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).
  • 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: 
  • 12 December 2021; Arc Project Online Festival (York, UK)
  • 23 April 2019; Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
  • 22 April 2019; Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX)
  • 8 March 2019; Texas A&M University, Commerce (Commerce, TX)
  • 7 March 2019; University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK)

    Andrew May, violin

  • 13 October 2018; Centro Cultural Mazahua (Guanajuato, Mexico)
  • 16 December 2018; Casa Museo Gene Byron Marfil (Guanajuato, Mexico)

    Sergio Andrés González, violin

  • 11 April 2018; Moody Performance Hall (Dallas, TX)
  • 19 September 2016; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

    Andrew May, violin

  • 26 July 2014; broadcast on "Cousin Mary,” KFJC-FM (San Francisco, CA)

    Felix Olschofka, violin

  • 26 May 2012; Sichuan Conservatory of Music (Chengdu, China)

    Zhao Song, violin

  • 26 July 2014; broadcast on "Cousin Mary,” KFJC-FM (San Francisco, CA)

    Felix Olschofka, violin

  • 6 March 2011; Voices of Change Salon Concert (Dallas, TX)

    Maria Schleuning, violin

  • 5 December 2007; Tarrant County Community College (North Richland Hills, TX)

    Gloria Vela, violin

  • 22 April 2007; Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (Dallas, TX) — Akeru Ensemble concert

    Susan Demetris, violin

  • 17 November 2001; Sofia Municipal Gallery of Art (Sofia, Bulgaria) — American Music Week in Bulgaria [premiere]

    Nagina Stoyanova, violin

Program Notes: 

Die Tischtuchtolle (The Tablecloth Lunatic) is the second 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 Tablecloth Lunatic "is dazzling white and breathes in linen. Her fingers are strict, her eyes angular." However, when she happens upon a spot in the linens she obsessively inspects, "she turns dangerous, like a poisonous snake. Now she opens her mouth and shows dreadful fangs. Now she hisses before striking, the tiny spot takes its life into its hands."

Die Tischtuchtolle was composed in October of 1997 and was first performed by violinist Nagina Stoyanova in Sofia, Bulgaria on 17 November 2001. It is included on the album Improbable Encounters (innova 873, 2014).