Unfinished at his death, it is a setting in translation of part of Jean Giraudoux's drama Sodome et Gomorrhe (Sodom and Gomorrah). It is scored for orchestra and baritone, with some of the text spoken. A performance lasts around 25 minutes.
Begun in 1962, in the early stages of the Cold War, in the apocalyptic vision of Giraudoux's setting, it reflects Hartmann's ongoing concerns with the folly of empire-building. Hartmann had resisted the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s, and had witnessed the development of other, violent successors. Hence his use of Giraudoux's text suggests an ongoing folly, that the constructors of empire never learn.
The final strophe, left uncomposed at Hartmann's death, is spoken, unaccompanied.
It was premiered in Frankfurt on 12 November 1964, the year after Hartmann's death, with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, for whom it had been written, as soloist and the orchestra of the Hessischer Rundfunk under Dean Dixon.
- Sgroi & Wolf, 2001
- Schott Online Store - Gesangsszene (Karl Amadeus Hartmann)
- Ozorio, 2008
- Celia A. Sgroi; Monika Wolf (2001). "Classical Music - Andante - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved December 2012.
- "The Schott Music Shop - Shop - Karl Amadeus Hartmann - Gesangsszene". Retrieved December 2012.
- Anne Ozorio (27 September 2008). "LPO/Jurowski @ Royal Festival Hall, London - Concert Review". Retrieved December 2012.