Foto: Andrej Grilc

Children’s Songs

Folk songs are often terrifying. Today I am red / Tomorrow I am dead / and today my cheeks are red. / Today I lie in my father’s bed / tomorrow six come to lay me to rest – Children’s Death Song from the Burgenland, Austria

In the old days, children got sick with tuberculosis and died. Today they die in wars and on the Mediterranean Sea. We become insensitive to that which we do not see directly.

Is there a folk song for those children? When I hear my composition “Heute bin ich rot” [Today I am red], I am deeply saddened. So I sing: Today I am on Earth / Tomorrow I am in the Sea / Today I lay with Mama / Tomorrow there is no one…

The composition references folk songs, but towards the end of the piece the song smothers itself and turns silent. The child’s coffin is carried to the cemetery, where only the birds sing. But the body of the drowned child remains in the sea, where only the gulls are heard.

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Ursula Mamlok
Foto: Kai-Uwe Wudtke
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