by Anonymous / Unidentified Author
Translation © by Laura Prichard

Zweck der Musik (Lateinischer Spruch)
Language: Latin 
Available translation(s): ENG
Cur adhibes tristi numeros cantuumque labori?
Ut relevent miserum fatum solitosque labores.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by Hanns Eisler.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "The Point of Music (Latin proverb)", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website: 2004-01-16 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:03
Line count: 2
Word count: 12

The Point of Music (Latin proverb)
Language: English  after the Latin 
Why do you apply numbers and songs to disagreeable work?
That they may relieve wretched fate and habitual tasks.

Translator's notes:
In the second line, the names of the notes of the six-note Guidonian scale are hidden in the first syllables of each word: UT RElevent MIserum FAtum SOLitosque LAbores.
The text first appears in the music rudiments book "Compendium musical platinum-germanicum" (1591) by Adam Gumpelzhaimer (1559-1625), Cantor and Präzeptor at the school and church of St. Anna in Augsburg, Germany and at the Augsburg Cathedral. The saying was well known throughout Europe by the middle of the seventeenth century.


  • Translation from Latin to English copyright © 2020 by Laura Prichard, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


Text added to the website: 2020-01-07 00:00:00
Last modified: 2020-01-08 20:23:06
Line count: 2
Word count: 19