Das Lila Lied ( The Lavender Song)

Das Lila Lied (The Lavender Song) was written by the cabaret composer Mischa Spoliansky (under the pseudonym of Arno Billing) and songwriter Kurt Schwabach in 1920.

(image mischaspoliansky.com)

(image uwosh.edu)

It was dedicated to the German physician and ‘sexologist’ Magnus Hirschfeld, an early homosexual rights activist.

(image glbtq.com)

It is now considered to be the first ever Gay Rights anthem.

This first version is from the Marek Weber Orchestra from 1921

And in English, by contemporary cabaret star Ute Lemper.

(lyrics are by Jeremy Lawrence and are copyrighted)
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6 Responses to Das Lila Lied ( The Lavender Song)

  1. Jeremy Lawrence says:

    The lyrics Ute is singing are by me, Jeremy Lawrence, and are copywritten and should not be used on a website without my permission or at least without giving me credit. Please correct this.

    Thanks so much.

    Jeremy Lawrence

  2. Brendan says:

    Thank you and apologies. Correct accreditation has now been made.

  3. Das lila Lied

    Wir lieben nur die lila Nacht, die schwül ist,
    weil wir ja anders als die andern sind! :mrgreen:

  4. Matt Pohlhammer says:


    My name is Matt, and my hobby is music notation transcription – especially for compositions which are rare, have historic significance, or otherwise interest me.
    DAS LILA LIED (The Lavender Song) fits all of those categories, for reasons I won’t bore you with here/now. Suffice to say that this score has proven quite elusive, and I’ve been putting a fair amount of effort into tracking it down. This situation seems undesirable for a song that is considered by many to be an “anthem” for an important socio-political movement.

    I have finally obtained a legible copy of the original Schwabach/Billing (a.k.a. Spoliansky), German-lyric, score. It’s a very simple Piano/Vocal arrangement. Another Mischa aficionado in Berlin was kind enough to furnish it.

    I have re-transcribed it into music notation, using an application (Finale Guitar) designed for this purpose. I don’t speak German, so I’m having native-speakers check my input, to rid it of any language error(s). Using the music notation software, I can now output laser-quality scores, in many different formats, including:
    o PDF multi-page image
    o TIFF single-page images (JPEG, PNG, bitmap, etc are also possible)
    o MIDI sequence (audio play-back of Spoliansky’s original composition)
    o Finale NotePad (“Reader” freeware) format (audio/video score play-back, including editable Tempo & Key Signature change capability)
    o Finale format (Fully editable music notation)
    o ETF (Enigma Transportable Format) << Tech explanation beyond scope, here/now.
    o "Smart Accompaniment" Format << Also beyond scope, here/now.

    Well, lah-dee-dah! << Subtle, witty(?), self-deprecation.

    So, why am I writing to you?

    It seems to me that nobody should ever have to struggle, as I did, to gain access to this historically significant material, as I did. Further, I have some tools, and personal interest, to help make this material freely available to anyone who might share an interest in it.

    I'd like to Post the score someplace.

    I've written to George Takei, asking if he'd "Host", but this is not yet approved.

    The original German-language score was copyrighted in 1920.
    Under current U.S. copyright law (and more importantly, ENFORCEMENT of same), that original material falls into "public domain" status, by the simple attribute of its age.

    However, the English-language "translation" lyric by Jeremy Lawrence is of a much more recent vintage, and he has indicated his preference to honor his claim to copyright control, or at least to give him lyric writing credit, which is certainly reasonable. I have not (yet) attempted to contact Mr. Lawrence directly, as I don't (yet) know his contact information. I assume he may have a talent agent, and will keep looking. My pitch to him will be similar to the one I am proposing to you:

    Shouldn't THE LAVENDER SONG be made freely available to the human race?

    The argument I would offer to support this is that it has transcended copyright control, and perhaps even the law itself. It has become more important than that, in my opinion. Another musical example I would cite is: "We Shall Overcome".

    Am I making any sense?

    Anyway, I was impressed by your web-page on this topic, especially by what appears to be an effort to GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT, if you'll pardon such ironic wording.

    Please let me know if any of this interests you, or if you have ideas on how/if to proceed with this tiny project.

    Thanks for reading,


  5. Hi there,

    I am learning this song and want to be able to accompany myself on accordion. I can pick some things out slowly by listening to recordings, but it would make my journey a lot easier if I could have chord sheet or score! Any help with this?

    I always credit well in my performances and would mention the translator Jeremy Lawrence.

    THank you!

    HR x

  6. Robert Smith says:

    I have a question. Why is lavender the color associated with gay men? Given this song it seems to be an association that’s approaching 100 years old, and it seems to have been prevalent in both Europe and the US.

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