De Zusters Karamazov  

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"De Zusters Karamazov" (The Sisters Karamazov) is a song from 1957 by Dutch poet and writer Drs. P.


The song desribes the sad history of two sisters, living in Overveen, who are getting a disagreement on how to divide a heritage, that consists solely out of dresses. In the end, one of the sisters decides to poison the other one. Upon creating a poisoned drink,the first sister can't resist to taste if the recipe worked out well. It turns out she used the correct fatal dose and drops dead instantly, leaving the other sister with all the dresses.

During the song, the listeners are repeatedly reminded of the fact that time passes by:

Terwijl de kater sliep, (while the cat slept)
en de pendule liep (and the clock ticked)
en de kanarie sprak: (and the canary said:)
"Tsjiep, tsjiep, tsjiep, tsjiep (tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet)".

The song is meant as entertainment, with a melancholic core: greed can lead to discord, annoyance and worse, maybe eventually even to murder. The name Karamazov (from the title) is mentioned nowhere in the song. The song is therefore also known by the (incorrect) name of Tante Constance en tante Mathilde (auntie Constanze and auntie Mathilde).

Cultural references

The title refers to The Brothers Karamazov, a well-known book from the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The melody of the chorus has been derived from the first part of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts "Pianosonate nr. 11 in A-majeur (KV 331)".


In 2013, the American actress Christina Applegate explained to talkshow host Conan O'Brien that her (Dutch) husband was teaching this song to their little daughter.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "De Zusters Karamazov" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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