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Sunday, October 23, 2005


I've always had a thing for Til Eulenspiegel, the merry prankster. I love Richard Strauss's tone poem about him. Mr. Eulenspiegel was sort of a one man circus that moved from village to village shaking up the stodgy status quo. He was eventually hung for his pranks, but even as he was choking to death he still managed to laugh at all the shortsighted foolishness he saw all around him. We should all cultivate a little "Eulenspiegel" inside of us, so we don't get stuck in our ways. As far as I am concerned, "Eulenspiegel" is a hell of a lot more important than "Farfegnugen" if you know what I mean.

Til Eulenspiegel. Brunswick has many famous citizens in German history, but none so colorful as Til Eulenspiegel, a half-historic, half-mythical prankster who was supposed to have been born about 1300 in a town nearby, Schoppenstedt (14 miles southeast). During the 16th century, many tales began to circulate about the tricks and jokes Til played on townspeople, and Richard Strauss immortalized him in the symphonic poem, Til Eulenspiegel. Legend has it that Til was finally hanged for his pranks, but that even with a noose around his neck, he never stopped joking or lost the impish glint in his eye. Brunswick honors him with a statue, showing him sitting nonchalantly on a wall, chatting with monkeys and owls (monkey = prankishness, owl - wisdom; Til was regarded as a sage as well as a prankster). His feet are dangling, and one of his slippers has fallen off.

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