The tale of the donkey, rooster, dog and cat
Bremen is the home of the Bremen Town Musicians
"Regardez, les musiciens de Brême!” “Look, it’s the Bremen Town Musicians!” “¡Mira, los músicos de Bremen!” The hubbub of languages around the bronze statue of the Town Musicians near Bremen’s town hall is truly international. According to one survey, the Bremen Town Musicians are known throughout the world. They are more famous than Werder Bremen football club, or the Weser, the river that is so essential to life in the Hanseatic city. When visitors were asked to name something they associated with Bremen in a poll conducted by Bremen University in 2007, one third cited the Town Musicians before anything else.
So in 2019 the city will be delighted and proud to celebrate the Town Musicians Summer to mark the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the tale by the Brothers Grimm.
The pages listed next to this text contain plenty of information on all aspects of the programme and associated offers.
The Town Musicians in Bremen
If you prefer to explore Bremen by yourself, here are a few tips on where you can find the four fairytale characters:
The most famous representation of the Town Musicians is the bronze statue created by sculptor Gerhard Marcks. It is situated to the west of the town hall, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Cast in 1951, this statue was originally just a loan. But thanks to generous donations by Bremen citizens, the city was able to buy the figure from Marcks in 1953, and it has been in its present location for more than 60 years now. Touching the two front legs of the donkey is meant to bring good luck, which explains why they are so shiny!
Right next door, but down a few steps, is what might be described as the Town Musician’s ‘local’, the Ratskeller. There are two depictions of the musicians in the vaults of this historical pub. In the room named after German writer Wilhelm Hauff, the four animals are dining at a large table in a 1927 fresco by Max Slevogt. The Senate Room contains a rotating sculpture by Heinrich Möller.
Returning above ground from the Ratskeller, you come face to face with another instance of the group diagonally across the street. On the Deutsches Haus building, they are dragging themselves up the brackets of a pub sign from the Pschorr brewery (now Hacker Pschorr), visibly exhausted from their long journey towards Bremen. The brewery is no longer located in the building, but the fairytale heroes continue to look out across the bustle of the city centre and the shops on Obernstrasse.
The Town Musicians have also left their mark in other parts of the city, for example in the Expressionist ensemble of Böttcherstrasse. And they have become permanent fixtures in the streets of Bremen too. A variety of papier mâché statues bring a touch of fairytale magic to Bremen’s city centre. These figures look a bit different from the literary characters, at least when it comes to their colour. Dressed in the bright green kit of Werder Bremen football club, or wearing stripes and other patterns, they are part of a community project. As mascots of the ‘Leselust’ (reading pleasure) initiative, they aim to introduce Bremen’s youngsters to the enjoyment of books and reading.
Bremen Town Musicians’ Archive and fairytale
More information about the plucky foursome is available on the internet. Click on this link to access the Bremen Town Musicians’ Archive: www.stadtmusikantenarchiv.de.
What is your personal highlight of the Town Musicians Summer? And what do you consider to be the essential Bremen Town Musicians? Tell us on social media using the hashtag #townmusicianssummer!