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Monday, April 02, 2012

Die Advokaten; or, Music About Law

In blogging, as in writing generally, there is no demand for thematic unity.  Yet perhaps one of the characteristics which Larry Solum looks for in selecting his satires is distinctiveness of voice.  Particular leitmotivs in one's scholarship do appear over time, whether intended or not.  And one which has been on my mind is law and music.

Recently I had a chance to listen through all of Franz Schubert's work, and I happened to hear an obscure, insubstantial, and very enjoyable vocal trio called "Die Advokaten" ("The Lawyers").  The participants are two lawyers and a client, and they are complaining that the client, a Mr. Sempronius, has not paid them (their fee takes the form of some delicious food and even a Tokay wine).  And they are quite clear that there is a difference between their "honorarium" and the "expensarium" which the client must pay as part of court costs.  Here's the conclusion:

O Justitia praestantissima, kling, kling, kling, kling.  Welche schöne harmonie.  Al gemein, bezaubert sie.  Von ihrem reiz bleibt niemand frei, Motiva sind bei der Kanzlei, kling, kling, kling, kling; kling, kling, kling, kling.

My rough translation: Oh most excellent Justice, clink, clink, clink, clink [the sound of coins falling].  What a beautiful harmony.  All are enchanted by it.  From those charms no one is free.  In chancery these are the motives, clink, clink, clink, clink.

I don't think I have ever heard a piece of music which references the lives of lawyers (to the point of raising a court of chancery!), the tension between justice and self-interest, and so on, all in such a pleasingly malicious way.  What are some other musical works about law or lawyers? 

Posted by Marc DeGirolami on April 2, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Permalink


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