3 months ago

Rosner - The Parable of the Law, op. 97


Before the Law there stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper there comes a man from the country who begs for admittance unto the Law. But then the doorkeeper says that he cannot admit the man at the present time. The man, on reflection asks if he will be allowed, then, to enter later on. “It is possible,” says the doorkeeper, “but not at the present time.” Since the door leading into the Law stands open as usual and the doorkeeper steps to one side the man bends down to look; the man bends down to peer into the entrance and when the doorkeeper sees that he laughs and says: “If you’re so strongly tempted, just try to get inside without permission. But note that I am powerful. And I am only the lowliest doorkeeper! From hall to hall, keepers stand at every door, one more powerful than the other. And the sight of the third man is already more than even I can stand.” These are difficulties which the man from the country has not expected to meet. The Law he thinks should be accessible to any man and at all times, but when he looks more closely at the doorkeeper he decides that he had better wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at the side of the door. There he sits waiting for days and years. He makes many attempts to be allowed to enter and wearies the doorkeeper with his importunity. The doorkeeper often engages him in brief conversation asking him about his home and other matters but these questions are put quite impersonally as great men put questions, and they always conclude with the statement that the man cannot be allowed to enter yet. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, parts with everything he has, however valuable, in the hope of bribing the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts it all, saying, however, as he takes each gift, “I take this only to keep you from feeling that you’ve left something undone.” During all these long years the man watches the doorkeeper almost incessantly. He forgets about all the other doorkeepers and this one seems to him the only barrier between himself and the Law. In the first years he curses his evil fate aloud; later, as he grows older and as he grows childish, he only mutters to himself. Finally his eyes grow dim, and he does not know whether the world is really darkening around him or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. But in the darkness he can now perceive a radiance streaming inextinguishably out from the door of the Law. Now his life is drawing to a close. Before he dies, all that he has experienced during the whole time of his sojourn condenses into one question which he has never yet put to the doorkeeper. He beckons the doorkeeper, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend down so as to hear him, for the difference in size between them has increased very much to the man’s disadvantage. “What do you want to know now?” asks the doorkeeper. “You are insatiable.” “Everyone strives to attain the Law,” answers the man. “How does it come about then that in all these years no one has come, no one has come seeking admittance but me?” The doorkeeper perceives that the man is nearing his end and that his hearing is failing, and so he bellows in his ear: “No one but you could gain admittance through this door, since this door was intended for you, and only for you. I am now going to shut it.” —Franz Kafka, from The Trial (1915) (translator unknown)

Score in C Franz Kafka 1 Flutes 2 Adagio ( = c. 63) The Parable of the Law for baritone and orchestra 2 3 3 4 5 5 Arnold Rosner Opus 97 (1994) Oboes 1 2 English Horn Clarinets in B Bass Clarinet in B Bassoons 1 2 1 2 a2 3 Contrabassoon 1 Horns 3 in F 2 4 3 Trumpets 1–3 in C Trombones 1 2 con sord. senza sord. 3 Tuba in G, B , C, F Timpani Bass Drum 1 Percussion 2 Harp Baritone Adagio ( = c. 63) Violin I Violin II 3 3 Viola 3 Violoncello 3 Contrabass 3 Copyright © 2017 The Estate of Arnold Rosner.

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