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Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?

06 Aug 03 - 06:38 PM (#998202)
Subject: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe_F

I have been interested for some time in the German tradition of "Frau Wirtin" verses (the cultural counterpart of the English-language bawdy limerick tradition, tho metrically different). Arthur Koestler, in his autobiography, mentions their being "recited" in the drinking orgies of the Zionist dueling fraternity he belonged to in Vienna in the 1920s. Were they, and are they -- like limericks -- sometimes sung? And if so, to what tune(s)?

06 Aug 03 - 07:52 PM (#998227)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Joe - Don't know that I've ever heard of Frau Wirtin - I guess us could translate that as "Mrs. Landlord" in the UK or "Mrs Barkee" in the US. Sounds like an interesting subject. This Google Search will lead you to a lot. has a song called "Ich kam vor einer Frau Wirtin Haus."

This may lead into an interesting discussion.

-Joe Offer-
    Ooops! That's "Mrs. Barkeep." -Joe Offer, Sept 2011-

06 Aug 03 - 08:20 PM (#998246)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?

Another Frau Wirtin with midi at: Frau Wirtin
This Munich site, which I have used before, has some good songs. Song index found by clicking on Zuruck zum Liederbuch on the page linked above.

06 Aug 03 - 08:33 PM (#998254)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?

For some bawdy verses ("for those over 18"), go to Frau Wirtin

No tunes mentioned. New to me. Never taught in the German classes I took. I am afraid I am too far away from those days to get much out of these. Lots more at other google sites, as pointed out by Joe.

Translations, anyone?

07 Aug 03 - 11:55 AM (#998355)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Uncle_DaveO

Joe Offer said: I guess us could translate that as "Mrs. Landlord" in the UK or "Mrs Barkee' in the US.

Maybe us could, but I'm puzzled by "Mrs. Barkee". I have no idea what this may mean. And I am from the US.

Dave Oesterreich

07 Aug 03 - 12:41 PM (#998396)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Ernest

Never heard the verses sung, although I lived in Marburg - where the original "Wirtshaus an der Lahn" was located - when I was a little child (perhaps I had to go home too early ...).
The place itself was - contrary to the verses - a normal family restaurant located in a very pittoresque old house looking if it could collapse every minute. Unfortunately it had to be torn down at the end of the sixties and was replaced by a very ugly high-story (for Marburg circumstances) building.
Aah, fond childhood memories...
P.S.: Marburg is still worth a visit - nice old university town with a good folk-scene.

07 Aug 03 - 01:04 PM (#998422)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Uncle_DaveO

Oh, okay. I'm slow on the uptake, it seems.

"Mrs. Barkee" was intended to be "Mrs. Barkeep". Okay.

Dave Oesterreich
    What can I say? My typing has deteriorated as I have aged.
    I once was perfect, you know...
    -Joe Offer-

08 Aug 03 - 12:20 AM (#998776)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe_F

Thanks very much for your help. (I have not yet reached the point where I automatically think of Google.)

There appear to be at least three different verses/songs mentioning Frau Wirtin. The one I meant is the one at Frigger's Humorige Seiten. It is probably the oldest. I am disappointed that it seems not to have been set to music.

The usual translation of "Frau Wirtin" is "the Innkeeper's Wife". I gather that it was a common situation for a married couple to run an inn together, and they were called Wirt & Wirtin.

Sad to say, I know too little German to understand the many stanzas given at the site, without some dictionary work.

08 Aug 03 - 06:21 PM (#999147)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe_F

I wrote the following book review some years ago for a gay apa
(amateur press association -- reader-generated magazine). It contains
some guesses that some of the present company may want to correct:


_Frau Wirtin in Klassikers Munde_ [The Innkeeper's Wife in the
Classical Author's Mouth (how's that again?)], by Beppo Freiherr von
Voegelin (Wissenschaftliche Verlaganstalt zur Pflege deutschen
Sinngutes, Muenchen, 1969). For a long time I have wished to know
more about the _Frau Wirtin_ song [a mistake], which is the German
equivalent of our tradition of dirty limericks. Arthur Koestler, in
his reminiscence of undergraduate days in a Zionist dueling fraternity
in Vienna, describes a drunken raunchfest called the "pigsty":

`One of the [alumni], a giant of Falstaffian dimensions..., was an
expert at reciting the famous ballad of "The Innkeeper's Wife." This
ballad, or saga, was begun in the early nineteenth century; since
then, generations of students have added new stanzas, but only those
that were really witty survived by word of mouth and in rare,
privately printed editions. Altogether it was said to consist of
about two hundred and fifty stanzas, of which P. was alleged to know a
hundred and seven by heart. The verses were Limericks of the kind
which starts "There was a young lady of Trent." The highlight of a
"pigsty" came when somebody recited a new strophe of his own
composition; but it was a risky business, for if it did not find
acclaim, the author had to take severe punishment by diving repeatedly
into his glass.'

You can tell Koestler was a journalist by the number of mistakes he
could get into one paragraph. The song is neither a ballad nor a
saga, but a series of unrelated squibs, having in common only the
verse form (which is _not_ the limerick), the tune (which I have not
yet been able to learn [evidently because it does not exist]), and the
fact that all but the first had to start with "Frau Wirtin...". It
was not begun in the early 19th century, but in 1775, by no less a
person than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who wrote, or at least
propagated, the legendary first stanza:

Es steht ein Wirtshaus an der Lahn
Mit einer Wirtin wundersam --
Greift die zu ihrer Leier,
So sitzen alle Gaeste da
Und greifen sich die Eier.

My German is even worse than my Russian..., but it seems to mean:
"There stands an inn on the [river] Lahn, with a wonderful landlady.
When she takes up her barrel organ (or maybe lyre, or -- who knows? --
maybe cunt), all the guests sit there & grab their eggs (or balls)."
This may be funnier in German because of the repetition of "greifen",
but it seems likely that I am missing something.

You can see that this tradition is not only much older than our
limericks, but also more respectable, having the prestige of the
tribal totem behind it. It is as if Shakespeare had written "From the
crypt of the church at St Giles...". This, together with the student
tradition of adding stanzas as mentioned by Koestler, assured that
every subsequent German writer, great or small, would write at least
one Frau Wirtin stanza. Hence this book, which, for each of forty
famous authors & artists, gives a biographical sketch and one or two
stanzas, followed by a psychological interpretation, which I _hope_
was written partly tongue in cheek, tho you never can tell, especially
with Germans.

Goethe himself started the ball rolling with

Frau Wirtin hatt' auch einen Schlaechter,
Der war bei Zeus kein Kostveraechter --
Wenn den die Geilheit packte,
Da sprang er auf den Ladentisch
Und fickte das Gehackte.

("The landlady also had a butcher, who really enjoyed his food. When
he got horny, he jumped on the counter & fucked the hamburger.")

One of the stanzas, by Rainer Maria Rilke, gave me a start:

Frau Wirtin hatt' auch eine Nichte,
Die onanierte mit dem Lichte,
Da kam sie in Ekstase
Und schob auch noch den Leuchter nach --
Er war von blauem Glase.

("The landlady also had a niece, who masturbated with the candle. She
came in ecstasy, and followed it up with the candlestick -- it was
made of blue glass.") I remembered the second line, which my mother
had quoted to me about 30 years ago; she had heard the song from her
first lover, who was German, about 1930. This shows that some very
small loose ends will get tied up if you wait long enough.

The only gay stanza in the book is an anonymous one in an appendix:

Frau Wirtin macht' fuer ihre Gaest'
Einst auch ein Gau-Kreis-Arschfickfest.
Hei! Gab das ein Gedraenge!
Aus Koeln der Onanistenclub
Gewann um Vorhautlaenge.

("The landlady also once put on, for her guests, a Regional Circular
Assfuck Festival. It drew quite a crowd. The Cologne Masturbators'
Club won by a foreskin length.") My guess is that this unit of
distance was not invented by the author, but is commonly used at
German track events, as we say that a horse wins by a nose. (Qy.
What do women win by?)


An RCH, I dare say.
--- Joe Fineman

||: As Balaam found out, even an ass may see something you :||
||: don't.                                                 :||

20 Aug 03 - 04:50 PM (#1005446)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: GUEST,Wolfgang

This song is still sung and it's tune is well known and often used for new verses.

(I'm away from any decent computer so I can't check the tune I'm linking to, but Frank usually is reliable:)

Es steht ein Wirtshaus an der Lahn

Tune at the link (if it works; I hate computers without copy and paste function)


20 Aug 03 - 04:54 PM (#1005449)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: GUEST,Wolfgang

new try

20 Aug 03 - 04:59 PM (#1005454)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: GUEST,Wolfgang

last try

If that doesn't work try (Frank Petersohn's site) and search for 'Es steht ein Wirtshaus an der Lahn'.

'Vorhautlaenge' is an invention for that song.


20 Aug 03 - 06:58 PM (#1005527)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe_F

That worked. Thanks very much for your efforts. So there is a tune after all! I have taken care to record it, tho opportunities for singing the song in the U.S. will be few.

20 Aug 03 - 11:00 PM (#1005617)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: toadfrog

It is v. thorough, yet leaves out my favorite verse:

Frau wirtin hatt' auch einem Traum.
Es lief ein Mann um einem Baum.
Es wollte ihn nicht gluecken,
trotz rasender Geschwindigkeit,
sich in dem Arsch zu Zwicken!

21 Aug 03 - 06:30 PM (#1006138)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Susanne (skw)

Fortunately, it's never sung in my presence ... :-)

29 Jun 09 - 10:12 AM (#2667081)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: GUEST,Joe Frigger

Frau Wirtin hat auch eine Tante,
die jedes Glied im Orte kannte
und roch sie nur den Samen
so schlug sie im Adressbuch nach
und wusste gleich den Namen

13 Sep 11 - 01:08 PM (#3222617)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?

Hah, I know "Frau Wirtin" from my time as a student in Berlin. Actually it is a very old song and it is only sung on a so called "kneipe" which pretty much resembles a well organized drinking party (later it can deteriorate into a drinking orgy). It starts very regulated and serious (Officium)with songs like "Gaudeamus igitur" etc. With advancing time and progressive drunkenness, the festivity goes a little "off road" and starts to get sometimes...ehrrmmm...pretty nasty and kinky. So "Frau Wirtin" always appears around the end of such a fesivitiy (Fidolitšt). The tune is well known to any german (and may be austrian) weapon student. It is a tradition that goes back around 300 years, starting in Prague where the very first Universities were established.

13 Sep 11 - 08:40 PM (#3222838)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe_F

Guest: That brings us right back to the mention of Arthur Koestler in the posting with which I began this thread. See the quotation I reproduced in my posting on 08 Aug 03. His reminiscences of student life in Berlin between the wars (in _Arrow in the Blue_) are amusing and, in a bizarre way, instructive.

14 Sep 11 - 06:18 PM (#3223317)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: Joe_F

"Berlin"! Of course I meant Vienna. None of us is getting any younger.

14 Sep 11 - 06:59 PM (#3223327)
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
From: michaelr

Arthur Koestler is the author upon whose works Stanley Kubrick's final film, "Eyes Wide Shut", is based. Racy stuff!