by Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)
Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
[Klavier und Geige, die ich wahrlich schätze,
Ich konnte mich]1 mit ihnen kaum befassen; 
Mir hat bis jetzt des Lebens rasche Hetze
Nur zu der Kunst des Pfeifens Zeit gelassen. 

Zwar darf ich mich noch keinen Meister nennen,
Lang ist die Kunst und kurz ist unser Leben. 
Doch alle, die des Pfeifens Kunst nicht kennen, 
Bedaure ich. Mir hat sie viel gegeben. 

[Drum]2 hab ich längst mir innigst vorgenommen,
In dieser Kunst von Grad zu Grad zu reifen,
Und hoffe endlich noch dahin zu kommen, 
Auf mich, auf euch, auf alle Welt zu pfeifen.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Hermann Hesse, Sämtliche Werke, herausgegeben von Volker Michels, Band 10 Die Gedichte, bearbeitet von Peter Huber, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2002, page 291.

1 Gromann: "Klavier und Geige weiß ich wohl zu schätzen, / Doch konnte ich mich"
2 Gromann: "Zwar"


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

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

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , "Whistling", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: John Versmoren , Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 12
Word count: 94

Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
[Piano and violin, which I truly value,
I]1 could hardly occupy myself with them;
Up to now, the rapid hustle of life has only
Left me time for the art of whistling.

To be sure, I may not yet call myself a master,
Art is long, and our life is short.
But I am sorry for all who do not yet know
The art of whistling. It has given me much.

[Therefore]2 I have long resolved
To mature in this art from degree to degree,
And hope finally yet to get to the point of
Whistling at myself, at you, and at the whole world.3

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Gromann: "I well know how to value piano and violin, / But I"
2 Gromann: "To be sure"
3 The above is a literal translation. Hesse is, however, using an idiom here. "Auf jemanden zu pfeifen" means not to give a d*** about them.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2018 by Sharon Krebs, (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


This text was added to the website: 2018-08-15
Line count: 12
Word count: 105