The Bohlen-Pierce Site
First BP composition

Last revision: January 19, 2009


It is probably understandable that the first ever BP "composition" is from Heinz Bohlen's own hand. Circumstances in his life hint at the years 1974 or 1975 as the most likely time of its origin, and at that time he may have been tired of listening to his own transcriptions only. Why Bohlen used a rather satiric poem of Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856) as the lyrics for his little exercise can only be guessed. The key is i-gamma, most probably for the reason that thus it could be played on the white keys of Bohlen's home-made BP organ. Four voices are employed: Soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The clef for the higher voices is R on the third line, while the bass voice notation uses the L clef in the second space. The score betrays traces of frequent modifications; hence it seems that Bohlen changed the composition in accordance with the acoustical impression. Tonality was certainly in the foreground of this attempt as indicated by the T and D signs atop the upper staff. Writing notes, however, was obviously not the chief employment of the "composer", as the score reveals:

The first verse of Heine's poem "Wandere!":

Wenn dich ein Weib verraten hat,
So liebe flink eine andre;
Noch besser wär' es, du ließest die Stadt:
Schnüre den Ranzen und wandre!

(three more verses to follow) obeys a meter that goes quite well with a German text but makes a precise translation into English difficult. The following free translation therefore scarcely represents the Queen's English, but meets both the meter and perhaps Heine's mocking spirit:

If your fair love has cheated you
Make haste to kiss soon another;
Still better, quit the old village green, too:
Hit the free road and don't bother!

And if someone should conclude that these are mere cliches: Exactly, and cliches is what Heine's poem consists of, all four verses. Don't we all have a tendency to hide behind phrases when we feel really hurt? Maybe Bohlen thought that his composition might help to betray that feeling, despite Heine's sarcasm.