My hat it has three corners

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My hat, it has three corners, is a folk song that goes back to a Neapolitan melody.


The song is sung to the melody of O mamma, mamma cara , which goes back to a Neapolitan canzonetta and was also used in the bench song . It is a “remarkable example of a 'wandering melody'” through a wide variety of musical works. Reinhard Keizer is said to have quoted the melody in his Singspiel The Pleasant Fraud or The Carneval of Venice (1707), which was so successful that street boys kept inventing new texts for it. However, the score of this Singspiel is lost, so this information cannot be checked. Rodolphe Kreutzer used the melody in 1816 in music for the ballet Le Carnaval de Venise by the choreographer Louis Milon . Niccolò Paganini played variations on this melody in his concerts under the title Carnevale di Venezia op. 10 (1829). Paganini also made the topic more popular. Frédéric Chopin composed his Rondo No. 1 under the title Souvenirs de Paganini , also as a variation on this melody. Other variations on the theme created u. a. Johann Strauss (father) for piano and orchestra, Francisco Tárrega for guitar, Jean-Baptiste Arban for cornet and trumpet and Wilhelm Posse for harp. Variations for flute and piano were created by Giulio Briccialdi ( Carnevale di Venezia op. 78, around 1855) and Paul-Agricole Génin ( Carnaval de Venise, op. 14, 1872). The song was also popular as Barcarola under the title La bruna gondoletta . On this text u. a. Julius Benedict concert variations for voice and accompaniment.

The text My hat it has three corners describes the formerly widespread tricorn . Oral records in the German Folk Song Archive go back to the years before 1870. The text was first documented in print in Saarland in 1886, but there it was still based on the melody of the folk song Who wants to love must suffer. The text has also come down to us from West Prussia . The beginning of the text also appears in a mocking verse from the Palatinate , which was recorded around 1920, but is said to go back to the Napoleonic period:

My hat, it has three corners,
my hat has three corners,
Napoleon should
go crazy with his tinny face.

The song A pug came into the kitchen and the erotic woman's song I'm lying in bed and sweating are sung to the melody of the canzonetta .

song lyrics

My hat has three corners,
my hat has three corners .
if it didn't have three corners, it wouldn't be my hat either.

Execution as a moving Singspiel

The song can be performed as a moving singspiel , in which, like a fill-in-the-gap song, a further keyword is omitted with each stanza and only represented gesturally . If you accidentally sing into a gap, you usually have to drop out or give up a deposit .

In this version, the content of the song is accompanied by the following gestures:

  • my - point your index finger at yourself
  • Hat - grab your head or the imaginary brim of your hat
  • stretch out three - three fingers
  • Corners - touch the elbow with your hand
  • not - shaking his head



There are variants of the song in Swedish, Danish, English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Estonian, but also in Hebrew. In Jewish culture, the song is often sung with children in connection with the festival of Purim . The Persian vizier Haman , who intended to exterminate the Jews, is said to have worn a triangular hat. According to the teaching of some Hebrew schools, the Hamantaschen , a sweet that is traditionally baked for the Purim festival, also refer to the triangular shape of Haman's hat. However, the Hebrew song “La kova sheli shalosh pinot” is sung to a different melody than the German counterpart.


In Primo Levi's book Die Atempause , which is part of the Holocaust literature, the performance of the musical play “My hat, he has three corners” by a theater group forms a central motif: “In the gestures of pantomime and in the circle of a senseless nursery rhyme, speechless articulates the essence of the survivors' existence. "

pop music

The song is also on the children's song CD Our Apple House by Nena . There a second stanza with the text "My shoe, it has three holes" was added.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Theo Mang, Sunhilt Mang (ed.): Der Liederquell . Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2007, ISBN 978-3-7959-0850-8 , pp. 564-565 .
  2. ^ Johann Lewalter : German children's song and children's game. Collected in word and manner in Kassel from children's mouths. Treatise and remarks by Georg Schläger . Vietor, Kassel 1911, pp. 308-309.
  3. Bruno Aulich: Moonlight Sonata, Katzenfuge and other strange titles and stories about famous musical works from three centuries. Heimeran, Munich 1966, ISBN 3-7765-0002-6 , p. 175.
  4. Birgit Kiupel, Cornelia Geissler: Hamburg maid - Trintje, Gesche and the "wrong world" . Music and Gender on the Internet, Hamburg University of Music and Drama, accessed on February 14, 2015
  5. Pasquale Scialo, Francesca sellers: Passatempi musicali: Guillaume Cottrau e la canzone napoletana di primo '800 . Guida Editori, 2013, ISBN 978-88-6666-201-3 , p. 135 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  6. Il Carnevale di Venezia, Op. 10 (Paganini, Niccolò) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
  7. ^ Vittore Castiglioni: Paganini. Biography. La Pilotta, 1982, OCLC 654713870 , p. 210 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  8. ^ International Musicological Society. Congress, Volume 3. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1990, p. 1842 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  9. Matanya Ophee: Rare & Curioses for Guitar. Variations on “Carnaval de Venice” by Nikolai Petrovich Makaroff. In: Guitar & Laute 4, 1982, No. 5, pp. 285-293; here: p. 286.
  10. ^ Johann Strauss Sr .: Remembrance of Ernst , op. 126 : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
  11. Remembrance of Ernst or The Carneval in Venice, op. 126 ,, accessed on February 24, 2020
  12. cf. Carnival of Venice (song) in the English language Wikipedia
  13. ^ Carnevale di Venezia, Op. 78 (Briccialdi, Giulio) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
  14. Carnaval de Venise, Op. 14 (Génin, Paul-Agricole) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
  15. GB Apparuti, A. Batacchi: The Singer's Assistant. Volume 10. William Rushton, Calcutta 1845, p. 156 ( digitized in the Google book search).
  16. ^ Concert variations on Carnival of Venice (Benedict, Julius) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
  17. Cf. Otto Holzapfel : Lied index: The older German-language popular song tradition ( online version on the Volksmusikarchiv homepage of the Upper Bavaria district ; in PDF format; ongoing updates) with further information.
  18. ^ Carl Köhler, John Meier : Folk songs from the Moselle and Saar. 1st volume. Niemeyer, Halle 1896, p. 359 f., Note p. 457 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  19. ^ Johann Lewalter : German folk songs: collected in Niederhessen from the mouth of the people . Issue 5. G. Fritzsche, Hamburg 1890-1894, p. 21 ( limited preview in the Google book search)
  20. Ludwig Erk , Franz Magnus Böhme (Ed.): Deutscher Liederhort . Volume 2. Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig 1893, pp. 432-434 ( digitized version ).
  21. Alexander Treichel : Folk songs and folk rhymes from West Prussia. Theodor Bertling, Danzig 1895, p. 124 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  22. Walther Klein: The Napoleon cult in the Palatinate (= Munich historical treatises . Issue 5). CH Beck, Munich 1934, also Diss. Univ. Munich 1932, p. 89 ( limited preview in the Google book search). The text comes from a questionnaire on the topic “How does the memory of Napoleon Bonaparte live on in your community?” Carried out by the Palatinate Dictionary Office in Kaiserslautern. The questionnaire survey took place around 1920, cf. Roger Dufraisse : The Germans and Napoleon in the 20th Century (= Writings of the Historical College: Lectures 21). Historisches Kolleg Foundation, Munich 1991, p. 8 ( digitized version ; PDF; 1.5 MB).
  23. Lyrics: A dog came into the kitchen ,
  24. Lyrics: I'm lying in bed and sweating ,
  25. Eva Kimminich: Experienced songs. An analysis of handwritten song recordings from the 19th century . Narr, Tübingen 1990, ISBN 3-8233-4237-1 , p. 30 f. ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  26. Primo Levi: The respite . dtv, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-423-11779-6 .
  27. Holger Gehle: respite - breath turn. The literature of the survivors. In: Auschwitz: History, Reception and Effects (= 1996 yearbook on the history and effects of the Holocaust). Fritz Bauer Institute, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-593-35441-1 , pp. 161-188, here pp. 170 f. ( limited preview in Google Book search)