Canon 'Uns geht es kannibalisch wohl als wie fuenfhundert Saeuen', Hess 302 (mp3)
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
The text is a garbled line from Goethe's Faust. It should read: "Uns ist ganz kannibalish wohl, Als wie fuenfhundert Saeuen" The devil Mephistopheles has taken Faust with him to a drinking-bout in Auerbach's cellar to show him the pleasures of life. After singing a song about a king with a beloved flea (which Beethoven also set as op. 75 nr. 3), Mephistopheles drills holes in the edge of a table; from each hole pours the wine of the drinker's choice. Thereupon, the tipplers start to sing half drunkenly the aforementioned verses, translated by Bayard Taylor as "As't were five hundred hogs, we feel/ So cannibalic jolly!" Faust is not impressed with the level of the entertainment and wants to leave.
The sketch is found amongst the work on the Grosse Fuge, op. 133, showing that Beethoven's mind could turn to trifles even in the midst of that intellectually titanic work. Nottebohm tentatively suggests (in his Zweite Beethoveniana, p.11) the sketch may be a two-in-one canon in unison. Misch (Beethoven studies, p.115) rejects this. He finds that solution too primitive, and that it's therefore better not to regard it as a canon at all. Misch might have changed his opinion if he had noticed the sketch could also be worked out as a four part canon, as was discovered by Willem. The second voice enters after half a bar, a fifth lower, the third voice after 2 bars in unison, and the last voice after two and a half bar, again a fifth lower.
The midi gives first the single line as written by Beethoven. Then, in order to give you a chance to hear all the relationships between the voices, you get the first and third voice combined (Nottebohm's solution), followed by the first and second voice paired together. Finally the complete canon for four voices.
Yet another first for the Unheard Beethoven site!