Der Tückenfänger

Complete Work Title: 

Der Tückenfänger (The Wile-catcher) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo basset horn (or bass clarinet)




For Kimberly Cole Luevano

Date Composed: 

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

    Anthony Devea, basset horn

  • 19 March, 2022; Boston New Music Initiative Prismatic Congruency Series (online performance)

    Stephanie Clark, bass clarinet

  • 23 April 2019; Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX)
  • 22 April 2019; Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
  • 8 March 2019; Texas A&M University, Commerce (Commerce, TX)
  • 7 March 2019; University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
  • 31 May 2018; Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) — Henri Selmer Paris Summer Academy
  • 11 April 2018; Moody Performance Hall (Dallas, TX)
  • 19 September 2016; University of North Texas (Denton, TX) [premiere]

    Kimberly Cole Luevano, basset horn

Program Notes: 

Der Tückenfänger (The Wile-catcher) is the fourteenth 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 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. The pitch material in Der Tückenfänger is based entirely on a symmetrical non-octave-repeating scale derived from a recursive <2,1,2,3> interval class set, with phrases generated from fractal progressions. In Canetti's depiction of this character, "the Wile-catcher looks around corners and will not be deceived. He knows what is hidden behind innocent masks, he knows, as if lightning has struck him, what someone wants from him; and before the mask falls of its own accord, he makes a quick decision and tears it off."

Der Tückenfänger was completed in December 2014 and composed for clarinetist Kimberly Cole Luevano, who premiered the work on 19 September 2016 at the University of North Texas.