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The Double-Bass (Bloomsbury Classics)

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From the author of "Perfume" and "The Pigeon", this story revolves around the narrator's relationship with his double-bass. The play has been performed all over Germany and at the Edinburgh Festival. From the author of "Perfume" and "The Pigeon", this story revolves around the narrator's relationship with his double-bass. The play has been performed all over Germany and at the Edinburgh Festival.


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From the author of "Perfume" and "The Pigeon", this story revolves around the narrator's relationship with his double-bass. The play has been performed all over Germany and at the Edinburgh Festival. From the author of "Perfume" and "The Pigeon", this story revolves around the narrator's relationship with his double-bass. The play has been performed all over Germany and at the Edinburgh Festival.

30 review for The Double-Bass (Bloomsbury Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Fritz

    This is a dramatic monologue which introduced me to some great music. I read most of this while listening to Brahm's Symphony No.2 which is the first piece of music that the protagonist, a double bass player, is listening to before he sits down to drink beer and talk about his life. Patrick Süskind really nails the tone of voice here. I had a very clear image in my head of a mid-30s lonely musician who starts off arrogantly praising his instrument to downright hating it in a couple of pages. The This is a dramatic monologue which introduced me to some great music. I read most of this while listening to Brahm's Symphony No.2 which is the first piece of music that the protagonist, a double bass player, is listening to before he sits down to drink beer and talk about his life. Patrick Süskind really nails the tone of voice here. I had a very clear image in my head of a mid-30s lonely musician who starts off arrogantly praising his instrument to downright hating it in a couple of pages. The more he talks, the more his bravado distanced attitude gives way to a desperation, centered around the fact that he can't find life's fulfillment in music, since he doesn't believe himself to be a good enough musician and he plays an instrument of lesser significance (although he keeps pointing out music that DOES use the double bass effectively. Or as he put it: Do you think Franz Schubert would begin his Symphony No.8 with an instrument that can't be played beautifully? What kind of man do you think Schubert is? ). He also has a desperate crush on a soprano singer named Sarah and keeps going down rabbit holes with her, as to why in god's name she would eat at expensive restaurants with much older men, when all the while he is the one who loves her? What is she thinking? Although this is really short, there's a lot to unpack. I loved the humor as well. My favorite part is a weird digression in which the protagonist psychoanalyses his instrument and musicians in general in an over-the-top manner, just to claim a page later, that psychoanalysis is over, of course, because its truths have become common knowledge. There are no insights left to be had. Ha! I would have liked to spend more time with this character - can we please get a sequel, in which the double bass player gossips a bit more about terrible men like Wagner, who would not have written Tristan (allegedly) if he'd gone to therapy? Or in which we get to know if Sarah finally noticed him and if that might've changed his pseudo-intellectual views on women in music? Die Frau spielt ja in der Musik eine untergeordnete Rolle. In der schöpferischen Musikgestaltung, meine ich, in der Komposition. Oder kennen sie eine namenhafte Komponistin? Eine einzige? Sehen Sie! Haben Sie darüber schon einmal nachgedacht? Darüber sollten sie einmal nachdenken. Über das Weibliche in der Musik schlechthin, vielleicht. Jetzt ist ja der Kontrabaß ein weibliches Instrument. Trotz seinem grammatikalischen Geschlecht ein weibliches Instrument - aber ein todernstes. Wie ja auch der Tod - jetzt assoziativer Gefühlswert - weiblich ist in seiner bergenden Grausamkeit oder - wie man will - seiner unausweichlichen Schoßfunktion; zum anderen auch als das Komplementäre zum Lebensprinzip, Furchtbarkeit, Mutter Erde, und so weiter, hab ich recht? Und in dieser Funktion - jetzt wieder musikalisch zu reden - bekämpft der Kontrabaß als Todessymbol das absolute Nichts, in das Musik und Leben gleichermaßen zu versinken drohen.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joana Guerra

    The German Patrick Süskind is well known for many of us due to his brilliant literary work Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) adapted to the cinema not long ago. What several people don't know is what is beyond that. Süskind, a said to be reserved man wrote other works such as the play I present you today, maybe it can sound very differently to who loves his most famous novel, but Der Kontrabass (The Double Bass), a dramatic monologue probably will reminds you of something. While in t The German Patrick Süskind is well known for many of us due to his brilliant literary work Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) adapted to the cinema not long ago. What several people don't know is what is beyond that. Süskind, a said to be reserved man wrote other works such as the play I present you today, maybe it can sound very differently to who loves his most famous novel, but Der Kontrabass (The Double Bass), a dramatic monologue probably will reminds you of something. While in the Perfume we were seduced by scents, in this fascinating play we are seduced by sounds. Narrated by a musician who plays double bass in a orchestra, he is sit somewhere in his soundproof house while he drinks beer constantly and talk. The double bassist tells us after all about the instrument he plays and how it has repercussions in his life. There are many references to classical music and to techniques of a musician but somehow you pass thought theme easily, because they are presented in a very soft way, as well as all the names of compositors he mentions. I must be honest, I read the book in some hours and spend most of the time listening to the compositors and works he mentioned, I guess it worked pretty much as the soundtrack. I had no idea what the book would be like and surprised me very much to enjoy the lightness of how it can be interpreted. In some way it’s amusing to know how the double bass influences his existence, as for the relations with women or just how he prefers to care more about it than about himself. In addition, he refers his frustrations due to his situation in the orchestra, how he thinks that a double bass is an essential piece in a orchestra but how he is neglected and thrown to the farthest place in the orchestra’s space and how barely audience look at him. He secretly loves the soprano Sarah whom he thinks that most likely never noticed him and aims to claim for her attention probably screaming in the middle of a musical performance, projecting her to the fame with such audacity, making everyone notice her beautiful voice and make her the principal soprano and proclaim himself it as a historical day and probably be fired in the ending because he is just a double bassist. He compares the orchestra with human society, since he feels despised due to his post in the orchestra and in society the individuals that do the most degrading jobs are the most despised by the others and he do think the double bassists are the ones who need more strengthens by many levels. With this he makes a accurate critic to the modern society. After all this is also a book about music and I shall end here with a very thoughtful idea, music is eternal and untouchable, music is at a level we can't reach. There might exist wars in the world but music would not be a war, it helps people to reunite, because music have the ability to change minds and to touch hearts and to reproached hurt souls.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leyla

    I can't stress enough how much I liked this book. I can't stress enough how much I liked this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Flohallo

    This play is basically a monologue of a contrabass player bad-mouthing his instrument. Fun and interesting for sure, especially for contrabassists, nothing more and nothing less.

  5. 5 out of 5

    astried

    Not for those looking for a plot. But it sure is amusing. Ok, this will sound a bit like schadenfreude, but you have to give me a bit more trust that when I said it was amusing to read about a guy falling apart on his own monologue, I didn't mean it in a bad way. In fact, I can see myself going the same way this anonymous-double-bass-guy went if someone let me have a solid 3hours time to talk about my life right now without interruption; on a second thought I might even go worse and starting to s Not for those looking for a plot. But it sure is amusing. Ok, this will sound a bit like schadenfreude, but you have to give me a bit more trust that when I said it was amusing to read about a guy falling apart on his own monologue, I didn't mean it in a bad way. In fact, I can see myself going the same way this anonymous-double-bass-guy went if someone let me have a solid 3hours time to talk about my life right now without interruption; on a second thought I might even go worse and starting to shed tears after the first half hour. So I don't judge you at all, ADBG. My heart goes to you. Readers not particularly looking for a plot, do read this. This is a very humane story. Not about some cold-blooded-sniffing-extraordinary-murderer or life-changing-pidgeon-induced-drama, just a guy having a chance to unburden his normal life story to an unsuspecting victim and being honest about it. As I was reading this book I realized something. If you want to get the truth about something, you don't need a rigorous interview, what you need to do is to let them talk for as long as possible (alcoholic beverage helps). This ADBG started the story being a smug all important fellow and gradually descent to the abyss tearing down all the fine cover up of his life and present them as they really are. His true life story. His dissapointments. His wishes. His double bass. And that summarized the whole book, though you will receive more than that, feel more than that if you do decide to read this book. You can have a window looking inside a sound insulated room. As for me, I've received a secret comraderie handshake from a fellow self pitying miserable creature of this world. The amused thought, though, went mostly to this assumed unsuspecting journalist trying to get a filler interview with an unimportant member of orchestra and received a whole slimy ball of life instead. To Patrick Sueskind, are you going to write something new? I'm starting to get low on your unread book and will need fresh supply soon, sometime within this year definitely.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Juan Arellano

    I've had this little book for years without reading it, today it seemed like a good moment to do it. Although it was a no boring reading, I didn't empathize with the narrator or main character, his problems seemed very irrelevant to me, but it was a good tale, after all. I've had this little book for years without reading it, today it seemed like a good moment to do it. Although it was a no boring reading, I didn't empathize with the narrator or main character, his problems seemed very irrelevant to me, but it was a good tale, after all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Shaffer

    If you are able to get a copy of this book to read, I recommend savoring it. It's not that it's Suskind best work, but it certainly plays a role in his development as a writer of "neurotic character" novels. Oh, and it's impossible to track down. Took me years. I find it hard to imagine this being a play, considering the lone character sitting in a room with his bass, going on and on rather obsessively about his instrument and sipping beer. It feels more like a short story, similar to his novella If you are able to get a copy of this book to read, I recommend savoring it. It's not that it's Suskind best work, but it certainly plays a role in his development as a writer of "neurotic character" novels. Oh, and it's impossible to track down. Took me years. I find it hard to imagine this being a play, considering the lone character sitting in a room with his bass, going on and on rather obsessively about his instrument and sipping beer. It feels more like a short story, similar to his novella The Pigeon. There is a Hamsun-esque neurotic tic flowing through this book--first THIS!, then no, THAT!, then maybe THIS!, but no, maybe THAT!. Uncertainty and anxiety reside at the core of the work, and if we are to run with the main character's analogy that the bass is the fundamental platform on which all music is created, then we have a dilemma: the foundation is not so secure afterall. Not a new idea, but certainly an interesting paradox. The insecure bassist, the most secure and foundational of instruments. A good, thought provoking read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Barnhouse

    This book is a delight! I picked it up because, having read Das Parfum, I knew Süskind's way with words was irresistible. What I wasn't expecting was such a funny, occasionally biting, genuinely warm examination of how we live with ourselves, with each other, with music... and sometimes with a double bass. I found that familiarity with several of the pieces alluded to made it more fun, but that's hardly a prerequisite. (And hey, if you don't know the Walküre overture or the Forellen-Quintett, th This book is a delight! I picked it up because, having read Das Parfum, I knew Süskind's way with words was irresistible. What I wasn't expecting was such a funny, occasionally biting, genuinely warm examination of how we live with ourselves, with each other, with music... and sometimes with a double bass. I found that familiarity with several of the pieces alluded to made it more fun, but that's hardly a prerequisite. (And hey, if you don't know the Walküre overture or the Forellen-Quintett, this is a great excuse to discover them.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nacho Cuadrado

    Before reading the perfume I wanted to enter the narrative of suskind with another book of his authorship. Custom that I have developed at the time of starting a new author, which helps me not to always have reference to his work or main works. The book felt more like a short essay; a story in which the author addresses psychological aspects of a musician, of quick narrative and interesting reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Süskind sure has a way with words. He comically dances the character's thoughts fleetingly from ideas of grandeur to loneliness and despair. After initially asserting the importance of his beloved instrument (the double bass) to the orchestra, with each sip a beer the character runs down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, recognizing the burden and emotional space such a large instrument takes up in his life. This is just such a well written and funny short novella. Süskind sure has a way with words. He comically dances the character's thoughts fleetingly from ideas of grandeur to loneliness and despair. After initially asserting the importance of his beloved instrument (the double bass) to the orchestra, with each sip a beer the character runs down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, recognizing the burden and emotional space such a large instrument takes up in his life. This is just such a well written and funny short novella.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christopherseelie

    Quick, concise, charming one person play (a tragic monologue really) built around an erudite but unreliable bassist in love with a mezzo-soprano. You get an enjoyable dose of music history with the personal drama. There isn't much available by Patrick Suskind in English besides his nearly perfect novel "Perfume". If you can get a copy of this one-act that debuted his career, it's worth it. Quick, concise, charming one person play (a tragic monologue really) built around an erudite but unreliable bassist in love with a mezzo-soprano. You get an enjoyable dose of music history with the personal drama. There isn't much available by Patrick Suskind in English besides his nearly perfect novel "Perfume". If you can get a copy of this one-act that debuted his career, it's worth it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    I finally got this book! In a semi-illegal manner....... I found the English translation in the Boston Public Library, but it was "for library use only". So I photocopied it and then bound it myself with glue and tape and scissors. I finally got this book! In a semi-illegal manner....... I found the English translation in the Boston Public Library, but it was "for library use only". So I photocopied it and then bound it myself with glue and tape and scissors.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David García

    Is so amazing how he managed to write a self talked monologue with this character who passes from feeling like the non plus ultra of the musicians, to really hating himself and his instrument, and then putting all gack together before the end. So good. Sooooo gooooood

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Dougherty

    Some things hit too close to home to even describe. This is one of those things.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tyska

    Personally, I think this works better on stage than on paper. There are almost no written directions by the author; it's one long stream of conciousness with no control whatsoever. Sometimes the reader has to assume what is happening on stage. On stage however, the actor can improvise beautifully, add neccessary gestures and pauses. Ironically, the main character dislikes improvisation. I enjoy Süskinds language. It's eloquent and polite ("Ich kenne Menschen, in denen steckt ein ganzes Universum, Personally, I think this works better on stage than on paper. There are almost no written directions by the author; it's one long stream of conciousness with no control whatsoever. Sometimes the reader has to assume what is happening on stage. On stage however, the actor can improvise beautifully, add neccessary gestures and pauses. Ironically, the main character dislikes improvisation. I enjoy Süskinds language. It's eloquent and polite ("Ich kenne Menschen, in denen steckt ein ganzes Universum, unermeßlich. Aber herauskriegen tut man es nicht.", p.9). His characters are crazy, though. They do the weirdest things and wonder about the most mundane things in life. This one has a certain depth to himself but nothing really out of the ordinary. I believe he is utterly boring and completely nuts at the same time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ikimiki

    Slightly reminding the theories on image and mimesis, the piece argues an artist and his passion for music which is embodied in his sublime object: the bulky instrument. The musician hates and loves his instrument and his art but deliberately compares it and tries to define its and his social values/class among the other musicians/instruments. Through the transition of the "image", the audience is introduced to the image of the musician (in a common sense) and slowly taken into the reaction of t Slightly reminding the theories on image and mimesis, the piece argues an artist and his passion for music which is embodied in his sublime object: the bulky instrument. The musician hates and loves his instrument and his art but deliberately compares it and tries to define its and his social values/class among the other musicians/instruments. Through the transition of the "image", the audience is introduced to the image of the musician (in a common sense) and slowly taken into the reaction of the musician to his own image, who agrees and disagrees on his own image. A short, funny but deep in thought monologue, discussing the issues on being artist, making art and issues on its labor and value.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Larisa Hincu

    I might be a bit harsh on this one because I've always had a love and hate relationship with plays - they just don't always translate that well for me in writing, unless the ideas behind them are really powerful. For this reason I believe I didn't really like this one. I found the first quarter interesting, but after the half mark I felt the monologue going downhill. Also, there are a few misogynistic mentions in here regarding the man's love interest, which are uncalled for and borne out of his I might be a bit harsh on this one because I've always had a love and hate relationship with plays - they just don't always translate that well for me in writing, unless the ideas behind them are really powerful. For this reason I believe I didn't really like this one. I found the first quarter interesting, but after the half mark I felt the monologue going downhill. Also, there are a few misogynistic mentions in here regarding the man's love interest, which are uncalled for and borne out of his frustration at not being able to have her. All in all, to me, this monologue feels quite inane for the most part, and I don't think it's really worth the reading time. However, if I were given the chance to see the play, I would give it a try.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fernando Pestana da Costa

    Patrick Süskind become a known name with his novel Das Parfum (which I have not read). This book, a Portuguese translation of the German original Der Kontrabass, is an extended monologue (a single actor play, really) in which a classical doublebass player, in his somewhat claustrophobic room, digresses about music, life, love. As the monologue proceeds, and the musician keeps helping himself with successive beers, his love-hate relationship with his doublebass come to the fore, as well as his pa Patrick Süskind become a known name with his novel Das Parfum (which I have not read). This book, a Portuguese translation of the German original Der Kontrabass, is an extended monologue (a single actor play, really) in which a classical doublebass player, in his somewhat claustrophobic room, digresses about music, life, love. As the monologue proceeds, and the musician keeps helping himself with successive beers, his love-hate relationship with his doublebass come to the fore, as well as his passion for a young opera singer. Along the way we have a wonderful monologue about music (naturally slanted in the doublebass direction) culminating in a fierce critique of contemporary society. All this in sixty short pages. Excellent!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wolf

    I found the play Der Kontrabaß (The Contrabass) by Patrick Süskind, an interesting change of pace in reading. I enjoy reading plays, so I wanted to give Der Kontrabaß a try. It isn’t the usual story and it makes the reader think. The book takes place in the double bass player’s apartment and is about a contrabass player who talks about his career as a player in an orchestra. He also talks about why he chose the double bass as his instrument. I like that even though he doesn’t like playing the co I found the play Der Kontrabaß (The Contrabass) by Patrick Süskind, an interesting change of pace in reading. I enjoy reading plays, so I wanted to give Der Kontrabaß a try. It isn’t the usual story and it makes the reader think. The book takes place in the double bass player’s apartment and is about a contrabass player who talks about his career as a player in an orchestra. He also talks about why he chose the double bass as his instrument. I like that even though he doesn’t like playing the contrabass, he keeps doing it for the greater good of the orchestra.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Read for my theatre masterclass. Definitely an unlikeable guy, our protagonist, and this is coming from someone who is in his shoes as I work in an orchestra. Some of his take on music and musicians were, as he himself says, unpopular and I have to agree. That said, it surely would be wonderful to see someone perform this monologue instead of reading it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Danics

    Great book. A bass player sits down and tells us the story of his career along with the advantages and disadvantages of playing the instrument. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad the "musicality" of this book is simply amazing. Definitely worth reading. Great book. A bass player sits down and tells us the story of his career along with the advantages and disadvantages of playing the instrument. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad the "musicality" of this book is simply amazing. Definitely worth reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nektaria

    3.5 to be honest I can't say that I enjoyed this as much as his other two books that I've read (Perfume & The Pigeon) but I did appreciate its philosophy and the way it depicts the withdrawal from achieving dreams that characterizes most people. 3.5 to be honest I can't say that I enjoyed this as much as his other two books that I've read (Perfume & The Pigeon) but I did appreciate its philosophy and the way it depicts the withdrawal from achieving dreams that characterizes most people.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kotryna Rossen

    The piece is exquisite. To understand it you must be at least a bit familiar with music in general, music history and so on. The monologue is hilarious, sarcastic, I believe that any musician can find a part of themselves relating with the speaker.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Umut Berkay

    If you've liked this book you should see this beautiful movie called Prova d'orchestra If you've liked this book you should see this beautiful movie called Prova d'orchestra

  25. 4 out of 5

    Damien Evans

    This was ok. A monologue by a frustrated double bassist in an orchestra. It's written as a one man play and would be better I think with someone acting it all out. This was ok. A monologue by a frustrated double bassist in an orchestra. It's written as a one man play and would be better I think with someone acting it all out.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nona

    Very sad....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nikita

    Just cause I play violin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ersankuneri

    Author is included glimpse of musical knowledge and history that is very small and shallow in my opinion.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Jones

    A beautifully crafted novella, for a book based in one room with one narrative it is so well paced.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Malek Mestiri

    They say read what you love until you love to read. I have done that with English and I have read this book to do so with French, rather than that, the book doesn't deserve one's time. They say read what you love until you love to read. I have done that with English and I have read this book to do so with French, rather than that, the book doesn't deserve one's time.

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