“You know what,” said the donkey, “I go to Bremen, where I am going to be a town musician, come with me, and take up music, too.” And the donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster walked to Bremen together…
The Brothers Grimm wrote the folk tale “Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten – The Town Musicians of Bremen” and published it in 1819 in their Children’s and Household Tales.
The fairy tale tells the story of 4 animals – the donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster. All these animals have grown old and are no longer useful to their owners. Before they are killed, they manage to escape. By chance, the animals meet each other and follow the donkey’s proposal to go to Bremen. There they want to earn their living as city musicians. They have to spend the night in a forest. Fortunately, they discover a brigand’s lair. They scare the bandits off with loud singing and decide to stay in the small house in the forest forever.
The first reported idea to set up a monument for the Town Musicians of Bremen dates back to 1938. Gerhard Marcks, a sculptor, finally implemented that idea and in 1953 a bronze was erected. The Town Musicians were not very popular at first. The people from Bremen did not find the animals funny enough. Nevertheless, the sculpture, together with Roland of Bremen, became a landmark of the city.
The Town Musicians are west of the town hall and are often the go-to photograph that visitors take. A picture or their lucky charm. It is said that whoever touches the front legs of the donkey could have a wish come true.
Today the sculpture is under monument protection.
On a walk through Bremen, visitors bump into the Town Musicians almost everywhere. They are in souvenir shops, in paintings and in re-designs of the commonly known statue – interpretations of the subject can be discovered everywhere.
Next to the German Assembly in Bremen, for example, we discovered their colourful interpretation of the “Bremer LeseLust”(a charity that promotes reading and literature for kids). Accordingly, the animals read in books. Dog and cat have made themselves comfortable on the back of the donkey.
In the Böttcherstraße you can find the Town Musicians in stone, created by artist Engelhardt Tölken, and a wooden interpretation can be seen the Schnoorviertel.
Also in street art, the Musicians are a popular image.
Bremer Stadtmusikanten worldwide
The Town Musicians of Bremen are not only popular in Bremen alone. We discovered the four animals in the Latvian capital Riga, too. Of course, we have written something about it. If you want to know more, just look in the post Rigas Stadtmusikanten.
Supposedly, there are more interpretations outside of Germany, for example:
- a sculpture on the Anton Piecksplatz in the Dutch city Efteling
- Osaka in Japan
- Kawasaki in Japan
- Poland – in the Warsaw Zachęta Gallery