The Wonderful Musician

The Wonderful Musician

A wonderful musician walks through the forest. He longs for somebody to listen to him play the fiddle. Different animals show up, but will he find a real companion?

The Wonderful Musician is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a musician who walks through the forest. He longs for a companion to listen to him playing the fiddle. The wolf, the fox and the hare show up but to get rid of them the musician tricks and traps them. At last his music touches the heart of a woodcutter.

Full Text

The musician looks for a companion

There was once a wonderful musician. He walked alone through a forest and thought of all manner of things. When there was nothing left for him to think about, he said to himself, “Time is beginning to pass heavily with me here alone in the forest, I need to find a good companion.”

He took his fiddle from his back and played so that it echoed through the trees.

A wolf wants to learn how to play the fiddle

It was not long before a wolf came trotting through the thicket towards him. “Ah, here is a wolf coming! I don’t want to spend time with him!” said the musician.

The wolf came nearer and said to him, “Ah, dear musician, how beautiful you play. I want to learn that too.”

“It is very easy to learn,” the musician replied, “you only have to do all things I tell you to do.”

“Oh, musician,” said the wolf, “I will obey you as a student obeys his master.”

The musician told him to follow him. When they had gone part of the way together, they came to an old oak tree which was hollow inside, and cleft in the middle. “Look,” said the musician, “if you want to learn how to play the fiddle, put your fore paws here.”

The wolf obeyed, but the musician quickly picked up a stone and with one blow wedged his two paws so fast that he was forced to stay there like a prisoner. “Stay there until I come back again,” said the musician, and went on his way.

A fox wants to learn how to play the fiddle

After a while he again said to himself, “Time is beginning to pass heavily with me here alone in the forest, I need to find a good companion to walk with.”

Again he took his fiddle and played in the forest. It was not long before a fox came creeping through the trees towards him. “Ah, there’s a fox coming!” said the musician. “I don’t want to spend time with him.”

The fox came up to him and said, “Oh, dear musician, how beautiful you play! I want to learn that too.”

“It is very easy to learn,” the musician replied, “you only have to do all things I tell you to do.”

“Oh, musician,” said the wolf, “I will obey you as a student obeys his master.”

“Follow me,” said the musician; and when they had walked a part of the way, they came to a footpath, with high bushes on both sides of it. There the musician stood still, and from one side bent a young hazel-bush down to the ground, and put his foot on the top of it. Then he bent down a young tree from the other side as well, and said, “Now little fox, if you want to learn something, give me your left front paw.”

The fox obeyed, and the musician fastened his paw to the left bough. “Little fox,” he said, “now give me your right front paw” and he tied it to the right bough. When he had examined whether they were firm enough, he let go, and the bushes sprang up again, and jerked up the little fox, so that it hung struggling in the air. “Wait there till I come back again,” said the musician, and went his way.

A hare wants to learn how to play the fiddle

After a while he again said to himself, “Time is beginning to pass heavily with me here alone in the forest, I need to find a good companion to walk with.” So he took his fiddle, and the sound echoed through the forest.

A little hare came springing towards him. “A hare is coming! I don’t want to spend time with him!” said the musician.

“Ah, dear musician,” said the hare, “how beautiful you play. I want to learn that too.”

“It is very easy to learn,” the musician replied, “you only have to do all things I tell you to do.”

“Oh, musician,” replied the little hare, “I will obey you as a student obeys his master.”

They went a part of the way together until they came to an open space in the forest, where stood an aspen tree. The musician tied a long string round the little hare’s neck, the other end of which he fastened to the tree. “Now briskly, little hare, run twenty times around the tree!” cried the musician.

The little hare obeyed, and when it had run round twenty times, it had twisted the string twenty times round the trunk of the tree, and the little hare was caught, and let it pull and tug as it liked, it only made the string cut into its tender neck. “Wait there till I come back,” said the musician, and went onward.

The animals break free

The wolf, in the meantime, had pushed and pulled and bitten at the stone. He had worked so long that he had set his feet at liberty and had drawn them once more out of the cleft. Full of anger and rage he hurried after the musician and wanted to tear him to pieces.

When the fox saw him running, he began to lament, and cried with all his might, “Brother wolf, come to my help, the musician has betrayed me!” The wolf drew down the little tree, bit the cord in two, and freed the fox, who went with him to take revenge on the musician.

They found the tied-up hare, whom likewise they delivered, and then they all sought the enemy together.

The musician finds a companion in the woodcutter

The musician had once more played his fiddle as he went on his way, and this time he had been more fortunate. The sound reached the ears of a poor woodcutter, who instantly, whether he wanted it or not, gave up his work and came with his hatchet under his arm to listen to the music.

“At last comes the right companion,” said the musician, “for I was seeking a human being, and no wild beast.” And he began and played so beautifully and delightfully that the poor man stood there as if bewitched, and his heart leaped with gladness.

As the woodcutter was standing there, the wolf, the fox, and the hare came up. The woodcutter saw that they had some evil plan. He raised his glittering axe and placed himself before the musician, as if to say, “Who wishes to touch him, watch out, for he will have to deal with me!”

The beasts were terrified and ran back into the forest. The musician, however, played once more to the man out of gratitude, and then went onward.

Tips for Telling

Storyteller Rudolf Roos
  • This tale starts with a artist deep in thought in the forest. And then music so beautiful it attracts attention. When you prepare for telling, close your eyes and see the forest, hear the music.
  • Make sure you understand the different ways the musician traps the animals. It might be a good idea to not only use words but also use your hands to show what happens.
  • The tale ends, but it is almost asking for some final comment. What happens with the woodcutter and the musician afterwards? Imagine it for yourself. Maybe you will tell it, maybe not.
Grimm's Fairy Tales: The Wonderful Musician
A reading of “The Wonderful Musician”

All Questions Answered

Who wrote The Wonderful Musician?

It was written down by the Brothers Grimm in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’.

When was the story The Wonderful Musician written?

The Brothers Grimm collected this story and wrote this complete version down in 1819 in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’. This story is not in the first edition (1812). It was told long before it was written down.

What are other names for this fairy tale?

The Wonderful Musician is also called “The Strange Musician” and “The Marvelous Musician”.

More useful information

Photo credits: Emilian Robert Vicol from Pixabay