Georg Friedrich Haas — das kleine ICH BIN ICH (Little I-Am-Me)

Dedicated to his daughter Sarah Georg Friedrich Haas transformed Mira Lobe's famous children's book Little I-Am-Me into music theater for a young audience.

© Nurith Wagner Strauss
© Nurith Wagner Strauss

Mira Lobe’s Little I-Am-Me is a great work of art. It’s not only the content which is inspired – its simplicity, perspicuity, and its moral aspirations – but also its language is art at the highest level. How Mira Lobe works with rhythm and rhyme, how she builds tension by varying the length of the verse lines, how she applies repetitions – this is all done with a most impressive poetic virtuosity.

To quote an example:
The sentence which is repeated over and over again – the “refrain”, so to speak, of the text, changes its MEANING according to which word is emphasised:

BECAUSE I am, I don’t KNOW who,
SEARCHing here and SEARCHing there,
SEARCHing there and SEARCHing here,
WANT to know just I am WHO.

turns into:
Because I AM, I don’t know WHO
Searching HERE and searching THERE
Searching THERE and searching HERE,
Want to KNOW just I AM who.
Mira Lobe doesn’t compromise her language in order to be more easily understood. “Childish” affectations are not her thing. She even uses occasional words which presumably are not part of any child’s language such as “hack” [horse], “barge”, “dressage”…
My music also doesn’t try to be „childish“. I take young human beings seriously. I speak my own language. I know, these young people are alert enough to understand it.
Certain instruments are assigned to express some of the individual motifs of the text:
the flowering meadow is represented by the flute;
the frog by the trumpet – in the beginning with damper, at the end without;
mother horse and her child by baritone and tenor saxophone,
the fish by the harp,
the hippo mother by the bass tuba, her child by the cornet,
the parrot by the bass clarinet,
the dogs by English horn, clarinet and trombone,
and the large soap-bubble by the contraforte resp. double bassoon
At the point where the little I AM ME recognises itself, the orchestra sounds an overtone harmony for the first time – and this chord, at varying pitch levels, remains to the very end.

A few years ago my third marriage broke up. Since then, my daughter Sarah no longer lives with me. I only see her very occasionally.
When she was a kid, Little I-Am-Me was her favourite book. I had to read it to her hundreds of times.

I dedicate this work to her. (Georg Friedrich Haas, 2016)

(c) Universität Mozarteum/Christian Schneider

First performance: July 22, 2016, Salzburg
First performance of the scenic version: October 30, 2016, Wien