A flute play...

Felipe San Martín

Senior Member
México. Español
Hi everyone:
The following aphorism was originally written in German by Karl Kraus and translated by an American scholar. I do not get the spirit of it and hope somebody help me out:
"The life in Vienna is beautiful. All day long a flute plays on me."
Thanks.
 
  • Grüße HENK

    Senior Member
    Germany German
    Hi!
    I couldn't find the German original quote, but I think it must be either:
    "Den ganzen Tag spielt mir eine Flöte auf", with "aufspielen" more or less being a poetic variation of "spielen",
    or:
    "Den ganzen Tag spielt eine Flöte für mich".

    Both are to be taken metaphorically: "All day, I feel as if a flute was playing for me." or "...in me." or something like this.

    "Spielen" and "aufspielen" differ in the grade of the action's intentiveness(right word?).
    Whereas "spielen" generally means "to play", "aufspielen" means "to play, intending to give s.o. a good time". E.g. "zum Tanz aufspielen" for which I don't have a fitting English idiom. It describes music being played for a dance.

    Grüße, HENK
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    I've found just one site with this quote and it indeed says "the flute plays on me".

    Das Wiener Leben ist schön. Den ganzen Tag spielt eine Flöte auf mir.
    Source

    I am at a loss as to what he meant. Perhaps, it's his way to say "life in Vienna is beautiful like flute music (and it penetrates my being)". Ehmm... I don't know really...
     

    Grüße HENK

    Senior Member
    Germany German
    Hi everyone!
    Well, "... eine Flöte spielt auf mir."
    wouldn't be considered an idiomatic expression in German.
    A native speaker would rather take it as a pun:
    We do have phrases like "auf einem Instrument spielen", so that you might understand Kraus' sentence as describing a fable-like situation.: Instrument and musician have swapped positions, the flute plays him.

    All in all, I would say cyanista has given a beautiful and very fitting translation in their last line. He (Kraus?) is filled with the city of vienna's music flowing through the streets. Austrians, in particular the Viennese at the beginning of the last century (KuK-Austria, königlich und kaiserlich), are considered to have enjoyed life almost professionally, mostly by having coffee and cake all day. They are believed to have been sophisticated, very cultural and slightly decadent people. One might imagine that an atmosphere like this would crawl through a city filling people's hearts and minds with a feeling like a sweet flute tune...
     

    Robocop

    Senior Member
    (Swiss) German
    "The life in Vienna is beautiful. All day long a flute plays on me."
    "Das Wiener Leben ist schön. Den ganzen Tag spielt eine Flöte auf mir."

    Das scheint mir ein Sinnspruch zu sein, den man wahrscheinlich nur im zeitgenössischen Kontext sofort versteht. Jedenfalls kann ich die Botschaft des Autors nicht spontan erkennen.

    Eine mögliche Interpretation könnte sein, dass die Musik mit Flöteninstrumenten in Wien damals so in Mode war, dass sie die Wiener quasi auf Schritt und Tritt verfolgte und dadurch manche (wie zum Beispiel Karl Kraus) sehr nervte. In diesem Fall wäre der Spruch sarkastisch gemeint und möchte etwa folgendes aussagen: Dieses andauernde Flötengedudel macht mir das Leben in Wien unerträglich.
     

    Grüße HENK

    Senior Member
    Germany German
    "Das scheint mir ein Sinnspruch zu sein, den man wahrscheinlich nur im zeitgenössischen Kontext sofort versteht. Jedenfalls kann ich die Botschaft des Autors nicht spontan erkennen."
    =To me, this seems an aphorism. Immediately understandable only in contemporary context, probably. However, I can't spontaneously spot the author's message.

    Eine mögliche Interpretation könnte sein, dass die Musik mit Flöteninstrumenten in Wien damals so in Mode war, dass sie die Wiener quasi auf Schritt und Tritt verfolgte und dadurch manche (wie zum Beispiel Karl Kraus) sehr nervte. In diesem Fall wäre der Spruch sarkastisch gemeint und möchte etwa folgendes aussagen: Dieses andauernde Flötengedudel macht mir das Leben in Wien unerträglich.

    = An interpretation could be, that flute music was so much en vogue in Vienna at that time that you were literally haunted or chased by it. Some people (e.g. Karl Kraus) may have been very annoyed by it.
    The saying would then have a sarcastical (not sure about this word) meaning, expressing something like "This constant tootling (of the flutes) is making life in Vienna unbearable for me."


    He's got a point there, although it doesn't sound that bad in German:

    It is sure that he feels as if he was being played on by a flute whenever walking Vienna's streets. Now you can wonder if he likes it (my version) or not (R.'s version). In that case, I wouldn't go so far as to say he is desperate and can't stand life in Vienna. He may be annoyed, though, also somewhat distrustful about that hilarious mood in the city.

    Henk
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top