The Bremen Musicians Story

The Bremen Musicians Story

Read the Bremen Musicians, one of the world’s classic fairy tales!

Once upon a time, a man had a donkey. This donkey carried the sacks to the mill for years without tiring of it. But now his strength was gone and he became useless. His owner did not want to feed him in vain. The donkey sensed that things were not going well, so he took off and headed for Bremen. He thought he could become a city busker there.

So the donkey went on and on and on and on, and on the way he came across a hunting dog lying on the road. The animal was panting like a dog tired from running.

The donkey asked:

  • What are you panting like that, watchman father?

The dog:

  • Don’t ask, said the dog, I’m old, I’m getting weaker by the day, my master wanted to kill me because I couldn’t run in the hunt… So I ran away. I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat well from now on!


  • I’ll tell you something, he said, I’m going to Bremen… I’m going to be a city musician… Come with me and join the band! I’ll play the lute, you play the drums…

The dog liked this advice. The two of them set off together. It wasn’t long after that. They saw a cat on the side of the road. The cat’s face was in a thousand pieces.


  • What is it? Are you in a bad mood, old clown?
  • Is it good to be cheerful when one’s beginnings are on fire? I’m old now. My teeth have set… Instead of running after mice, I’m sitting behind the stove, so my wife wanted to throw me in the water and drown me. I escaped, but last regrets don’t help. Where should I go now?
  • Come with us. You’re known to know music. When you get there, you’ll be the city harmonica player!

The cat welcomed the word and set off with them.

These three fugitives were passing by a farm when they saw a rooster crowing above the greeting gate;


  • Your voice gets into the marrow and bones of human beings… What’s wrong with you, my lamb? Rooster:
  • I told you the weather would be fine. Today is the day of our dear lady. She washed “Kristkind’s” shirt. She wants to dry it. But tomorrow is Sunday, guests are coming. So she told the cook without mercy. She’s going to eat my soup tomorrow. Better yet, I’ll be beheaded tonight. At least I thought I should scream until my throat rips.


  • Poor Colonel, said the donkey, you’d better come with us then. We are going to Bremen. Wherever you are, you can find something better than death. You have a nice voice… It will be nice if we all sing together.
    The rooster liked this suggestion. The four of them set off together.

They didn’t reach Bremen in a day. In the evening they came to a forest; they decided to stay here for the night. The donkey and the dog lay down under a big tree. The cat and the rooster climbed up on the branches, but the rooster found the topmost branch safer, so he flew up and perched there. Before falling asleep, the rooster looked around once more. He saw a tiny light in the distance and called out to his friends: “There is a light, there must be a house nearby!”


  • Then let’s get up and go there immediately. It is not comfortable here.
    The dog thought he would like it if he found some bones and a bit of meat there.

So they set off in the direction of the light. As they got closer, the glow of the light increased. Finally they came to the house where the bandits were sheltering.
Since the donkey was the biggest of them all, he approached the window and looked inside. The rooster asked:

  • What do you see, father?


  • What do I see? A table was set… There was all kinds of food and drink on it… The bandits were sitting and enjoying themselves.


  • It’s just the job for us, he said.


  • Oh brother, what would have happened if we had been at the beginning of this table?
    Should we make the bandits run away from here? Finally they found a hope: The donkey will lift its front legs and lean against the window. The dog will climb on the donkey’s back. The cat will climb on top of the dog. And the rooster will fly up and land on top of the dog!

They did as they were told in a similar way. Then someone gave a signal and they all began to play the music in unison: The donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat meowed, the rooster crowed. Then they burst through the window with a bang!
When the bandits heard this frightened shouting, they jumped up in the air. They must have thought a ghoul had entered the house. They ran out of the house and into the forest.

The four friends sat down at the table and attacked the bandits’ leftovers. They nibbled as if they had been hungry for forty years.
When the four musicians had finished, they turned out the light. We all looked for a place where we could make ourselves comfortable: The donkey on the dung, the dog behind the door, the cat by the hot ashes in the stove, the rooster on a perch…

They were tired from the journey and after a little while they all fell asleep.
The time passed midnight. The bandits looked from a distance, there was no light on in the house and all was quiet. The ringleader:

  • We shouldn’t have stepped on the cork for nothing, but it happened!
    He sent one of them to look at the house. The sent man found everything quiet and went into the kitchen. He wanted to light a lamp. He mistook the cat’s glowing eyes for a fire, took a sulfurous stick and tried to light it on fire. But would the cat get the joke? It immediately pounced on the human’s face, leaving him covered in scratches.

The bandit was scared out of his wits and wanted to run out the back door, but the dog lying there charged at him and bit his leg. As the man ran out of the courtyard, stepping on the dung, the donkey gave him a considerable kick with its hind legs. The rooster woke up to these noises:

  • Ö ö ö ö ö rö ö… he started crowing at the top of his lungs.

The bandit ran as fast as he could and came panting to his ringleader:

  • “Don’t ask,” he said, “there’s a fearful witch in the house. She hissed in my face and scratched me with her long nails. A man stands in front of the door. He has a dagger in his hand. He stabbed me in the leg. In the courtyard lies a caracolosis. He beat me with an oak stick. And on the roof sits the judge: “Bring that rascal to me!” he shouted. I barely escaped and got away from them…

From that day on, the bandits did not dare to enter the house again, but the four Bremen harmonica players liked it very much. They didn’t want to leave anymore.

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