Monday, December 19, 2011

Prof Mark Thamert Presents at Denver Conference

Summary of the Presentation Given at the November 2011 American Association of Teachers of German National Conference in Denver:

         Grooveshark, Goethe, Good Poems, Good Music
     The greatest of German poems have always enjoyed a rich history of interpretations, or Rezeptionsgeschichte.  Some of the m,ost provocative poems have garnered hundreds of interpretations from their first date of publication to the present. Each of these interpretations reveals something of the intellectual interests of the age and literary milieu in which it was written.
     What are often overlooked are the astonishing musical interpretations of these poems. Goethe's "Erlkönig," for example, elicited over 150 different musical settings since its first publication, a good many of them now available for listening on the web.
     When teaching upper-division German seminars, I ask students to work through a particular poem thoroughly, by comparing it to poems with a similar theme, by memorizing and performing parts or the entire poem, and then by listening to contrasting musical renditions of the poem. For example, on the theme of Geister we will work through classic poems like Goethe's "Erlkönig," "Der Zauberlehrling," and "Der Totentanz." Herder's "Erlkönigs Tochter" provides a fascinating foil for Goethe's "Erlkönig." We explore the theme of Geister further by working through Heine's "Mein Wagen rollet langsam," and "Die Lorelei" along with Brentano's "Lore Lay." Also included are Eichendorff's "Waldgespräch" and Droste-Hülshoff's "Der Knabe im Moor."
     There are about twenty other themes which provide for productive comparisons and assignments. Let me give you an example of three of them:
  • Eichendorff, "Wem Gott will rechte Gunst erweisen"
  • Goethe, "Wanderers Nachtlied I," "Wanderers Nachtlied II"
  • Eichendorff, "Im Abendrot," "Wiegenlied," "Mondnacht," "Zwielicht"
  • Goethe, "An den Mond"
  • Goethe, "Mailied"
  • Heine, "Im wunderschönen Monat Mai"
  • Mörike, "Frühling," "Im Frühling"
  • Rilke, "Vorfrühling"
  • Uhland, "Der Frühlingsglaube"
     What follows are YouTube and Vimeo clips of Goethe's "Erlkönig" as well as Heine's "Die Lorelei."  There are also dozens of performances one can listen to on the web site called Grooveshark, at no charge.  A teacher or student can also go to Apple's iTunes store to download the very finest performances for 99 cents per track.  In the poetry courses I teach, I assign willing students the task of composing their own version of the poems we cover and putting those on YouTube or Vimeo.  Here are some sample clips of "Erlkönig" and "Die Lorelei." 

Erlkönig (Schubert): Anne Sofie von Otter singing Schubert’s Erlkönig. (3:56)önig - Franz Schubert: Male Vocalist with paintings of the Erlkönig legend in video. (4:03);
Beethoven - WoO.131 ‘completed’ version of Erkönig;   Rammstein feat. Thordred –Erlkönig: modern rock version with spoken poem; Dalai Lama - Rammstein Lyrics and English Translation: Rammstein’s Modern interpretation;
Der Erkönig : animated reading of Erlkönig;
Der Erlkönig : Animated interpretation of Erkönig by a German Animated Film schoolönig – elfking : Black-white animation with English subtitles ; Erlkonig: Portuguese film school product, staged, modern thought to poem.

Richard Tauber Sings die Lorelei 1939: Silcher version Sutherland - Die Loreley (Ich weiss nicht) 1960 live recital: Liszt version; Die Lorelei - Erich Kunz – 1939: a capella version from Erich Kunz with lyrics on screen; "Die Lorelei" von Heinrich Heine (Poetry reading): includes English subtitles – Scorpions : Modern rock rendition of the legend of Lorelei by Scorpions in English; Pogues – Lorelei: Light rock version of legend of Lorelei in English

     Conclusion.  Teaching great German poetry becomes an even richer experience when students and teacher can compare and contrast brilliant musical performances of the greatest German poems. Students learn about Rezeptionsgeschichte by exploring questions like, "Why is this 20th century rendition so different from the version written in 1820?  What was happening in Europe during these times?  If you were to compose a song using this poem, how would your music differ from the music we have listened to?" 

   For a full list of 250 German poems I have grouped by theme for this course, please contact me at .

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brittany Boll Takes Position in New Prague as German Teacher; Nick Elsen and Brittany to Wed Next Summer

     Hey Pater Mark its Brittany and Nick. Brittany is teaching German at New Prague High School. They have an incredibly strong German program with a ton of German club students. She is enjoying it a lot! Nick is working with adults with disabilities, managing the education program. We will be getting married on August 18th and our ceremony will be at the Gorecki center.
    Advice for current German students: having a language degree truly opens a lot of doors in the working world. Combining a language degree with another can be a dynamic duo. Also studying abroad is so important to have on your resume. It shows that you are a global citizen and can bring a unique experience to their business. Hope all is well with you Pater Mark!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Nürnberg Tradition of Gingerbread Houses Comes to CSB/SJU -- Weihnachten 2011

On December 5th, 2011 the CSB/SJU German Club brought some German Christmas Spirit to campus. With the help of Paula Doebel, a local Gingerbread connoisseur, around 25 students assembled and decorated Gingerbread houses to what some considered the perfection of a master. Students enjoyed the change from their studious atmosphere and brought out their creative sides to craft houses to their liking.

Building houses from the foundation up can prove difficult, but the students met the challenge with gusto and ultimately overwhelming success. With the roofs attached and sturdy, the artwork flowed from the icing bags. The end result showed a wide variety of houses, some with candy-shingled roofs, trees made of pretzels, snowed in porches, backyard swing sets, functioning chimneys, and cobblestone pathways.

The event focused on the creation of Lebkuchen in Nuremberg, Germany and how it has evolved to gingerbread houses. Paula explained how one would make gingerbread from scratch and how best to bake it for not only houses, but gingerbread men and other holiday treats.

Students loved their accomplishments and thoroughly enjoyed showing them off to friends and surely bragged about them to their families.

The German Club would like to Thank Paula for her expert work on this event, and all those who came and put together houses fit for the Christmas table centerpiece.