"The Bremen Town Musicians" (Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten) is a German folk story about a group of animals who decide to run away and form a musical troupe. Unfortunately, although they don't realize it, their singing is beyond awful, and their first "concert" scares away its audience: a group of robbers stationed in a cottage. The animals settle into the cottage, and when the robbers return by night, again repel them, mostly because of the robbers' own superstitious fears. The animals decide to remain at the cottage, and live happily ever after.
Franz Xaver von Schönwerth collected a different version in his From the Upper Palatinate. Customs and Sayings book called The Wandering Animals (German: Die Wandernden Tiere). Among other differences, the group of animals were made up for a dog, a cat, a rooster, a fox, an ox and a horse.
Although it has not achieved the prominence of other stories collected in Children's and Household Tales, it remains a fairly popular and easily adaptable story for children, and the motif of the animals standing on top of each other from a famous statue is well-known in some parts of the world.
Famous adaptations of this story
- The Soviet animated musical Town Musicians of Bremen.
- Jim Henson's The Muppet Musicians of Bremen
- The German animated movie The Fearless Four.
- The Spanish animated film and TV series Los Trotamúsicos.
- Cartoon Network has also produced a number of shorts called "Wedgies"; one of these is The Bremen Avenue Experience, a Garage Band which includes Funny Animal versions of the same animals from the original folktale: a rooster, a cat, a dog, and a donkey.
- Alluded to in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask by the Bremen's Mask, which is used to play a flute that makes animals follow Link.
- There is also a manga called Bremen, which is about a rock group in Japan who name themselves from this story. A small allusion to the animal motifs exist in the manga.
- The four protagonists were playable characters in Grimms Notes, where they were given humanoid forms, and also names (Hahn the rooster, Katze the cat, Hund the dog, and Esel the donkey).
"The Bremen Town Musicians" contains the following tropes:
- Accidental Hero: The whole band never realizes they're up against "bad guys"; they repel them more or less by accident.
- Big Bad: The unnamed leader of the robbers our musicians repel.
- Cute, but Cacophonic: Which is about what you'd expect, given that they're a mismatched group of animals trying to "sing".
- Dreadful Musician: Considering that the musicians' only performance convinces the audience (of robbers) that they're Demon Lords and Archdevils, they presumably qualify.
- Everyone Meets Everyone: And they decide to start a band.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: The "Bremen Town Musicians" go with that band name even though they never make it to Bremen.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Ah, the classic story about the ass, the bitch, the pussy, and the cock....
- Home Sweet Home: In the end, the animals decide not to go to Bremen after all, opting to stay at the cottage instead.
- Interspecies Friendship: A donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster form a happy company (or, in The Wandering Animals version, a dog, a cat, a rooster, a fox, an ox and a horse) form a happy company.
- A Load of Bull: In one of the versions, an ox joins the group.
- Mixed Animal Species Team: The tale is about a team up of a donkey, dog, cat, and a rooster, as all of them seek a better life after their respective owners mistreat/plan to kill them due to their age and uselessness.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The lone robber gets his butt thrashed hard by the animals, who jump him for trespassing.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: For most people this story is the first thing they think of whenever they hear the name of the town Bremen. People outside Germany may even be surprised that the city really exists.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: A band of elderly farm animals escape being put to death and try to become travelling musicians; on their way to Bremen, they accidentally scare off a gang of bandits.
- The Runaway: All main characters have run from their homes.
- Stealing From Thieves: The musicians scare away a group of robbers and seize their house and other possessions for themselves.
- Talking Animal: Well, they talk to each other. But probably not to people.
- Ungrateful Bastard: The reason why the animals all run away is because their asshole owners planned to kill them now that they're old and no longer able to do their jobs.