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Another Night of Records

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It never ceases to amaze me that Robert Burns lasted that long physically, even though it was only for a short 37 years.

Booze and women seemed to fascinate him in equal measures. Makes you wonder when he ever had time to produce this impressive cornucopia of poems, so beautiful that even Beethoven set many of them to music.

“The Twa Dogs” and “The Jolly Beggars” were a Premiere last night in the translation of Dieter Berdel. Amongst all the other stars present standing out most were Cornelius Obonya, Robert Reinagl, Erwin Steinhauer, Wolfram Berger and Willi Resetarits. I love his voice.

Once again Robert Burns’ divine gift for words and Dieter Berdel’s genius for re-creating, not translating, them on the canvas of a different linguistic medium turned out to be a happy symbiosis between Viennese and Scots. It seems we do have a lot in common when it comes to drink!

And here we have already a boozy similarity, which I dare not to overlook. Where Viennese, happily inebriated, prophetically sing “Es wird a Wein sein und mir wean nimma sein…” (there’ll be wine when we have long since gone…) and thus display the usual deep seated emotional attachment to both, this magical liquid and to Death, so Burns writes an anthem to another amber liquid, beer: “Gude Ale Keeps The Heart Aboon”. With the recital of this poem Colin Munro, Board Member of the Austro-British Society and Member of the Robert Burns Society made his first impressive appearance on stage this evening. A second was about to happen later.

A World Premier was promised. The world famous “Address to a Haggis” was performed, not recited, in turn two verses each, for the first time both in Viennese by the renowned actor Cornelius Obonya and Colin Munro in Scots. If you ever needed an explanation why last night’s event was a sell-out (I think they said there were 264 guests in the hall and still a healthy waiting list) then here is your answer.

So once again it was a night of records this 20th Burns Night organised by the “Robert Burns Society Austria”. We were promised a Scottish evening and Scottish it was. Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Whisky, Jubilee Beer by the Leopolder Brauhandwerk and an abundance of tartan rounded off this night, the fourth the Austro-British Society has attended, occupying a long table in front of the stage. Like the previous years it still feels strange though that we were again deprived of our President’s welcoming words but once more he was impressively attired in a kilt. What a shame if you have missed it by not turning up last night.

O gude ale comes and gude ale goes;
Gude ale gars me sell my hose,
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon-
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon!

I had sax owsen in a pleugh,
And they drew a' weel eneugh:
I sell'd them a' just ane by ane-
Gude ale keeps the heart aboon!

Gude ale hauds me bare and busy,
Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie,
Stand i' the stool when I hae done-
Gude ale keeps the heart aboon!

O gude ale comes and gude ale goes;
Gude ale gars me sell my hose,
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon-
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon

Wolfgang Geissler

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