> Folk Music > Songs > The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (Der Leiermann)

The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (Der Leiermann)

[Wilhelm Müller, Harry Plunket Greene]

The Furrow Collective sang The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (Der Leiermann) in 2023 on their Hudson album We Know by the Moon. Alasdair Roberts noted:

Composed by the 19th century Austrian composer Franz Schubert with a text by German poet Wilhelm Müller. Der Leiermann is the final song in Schubert’s famous song-cycle Winterreise (published in 1828). It’s a song which Lucy [Farrell] and I had both sung in live performances before, separately—Lucy in English translation and me in the original German—so we decided to bring the two versions together in this ‘macaronic’ version. The English translation is based on one sung by Irish baritone Harry Plunket Greene (1865-1936).


Note: The German and English lines are sung either alternating or in parallel.

Lucy Farrell sings The Hurdy-Gurdy Man

Yonder stands a poor old hurdy-gurdy man
And with frozen fingers plays as best he can.

Barefoot shuffling sidelong on the icy way,
Not a single penny in his empty tray.

No one seems to heed him, no one stops to hear,
Only snarling mongrels care to venture near.

Little does he trouble, come whatever may,
Still his hurdy-gurdy drones and drones away.

Wonderful old fellow, shall I with you go?
Will you drone your music to my songs avow?

Alasdair Roberts sings Der Leiermann

Drüben hinter’m Dorfe steht ein Leiermann,
Und mit starren Fingern dreht er was er kann.

Barfuss auf dem Eise schwankt er hin und her;
Und sein kleiner Teller bleibt ihm immer leer.

Keiner mag ihn hören, keiner sieht ihn an;
Und die Hunde knurren um den alten Mann.

Und er lässt es gehen alles, wie es will,
Dreht, und seine Leier steht ihm nimmer still.

Wunderlicher Alter, soll ich mit dir geh’n?
Willst zu meinen Liedern deine Leier dreh’n?