Die Tanzgeiger

Die Tanzgeiger (The Dance Fiddlers) is performing in New Town (St Charles) on Sunday Sept 30th, 6p-8pm!  Die Tanzgeiger is the name of a seven-member ensemble hailing from the eastern provinces of Austria. This group uses a delightful combination of fiddles and other instruments to produce traditional folk music from Austria. These versatile tunes inspire dancing but are also valued in a concert setting. When listening to the music of the Tanzgeiger, one is transported into an atmosphere of powerful, heartfelt, and genuine music, with just the right dose of jaunty sass. People unfamiliar with authentic Austrian folk style are always surprised by its subtlety, complexity, and unusual sonorities.

Over the four decades of the group’s history, even as instrumentation, repertoire, and arrangements have changed, the intimate tie with their own roots and ear for the new and the foreign have remained constant. The group depicts both rural and urban Austrian musical styles. They have taken melodies from friends all over Europe: on tours from Norway to the Czech Republic and Hungary, from the Ukraine to Spain, they have collected memories that add the sparkle of many ethnic groups to their programs.  As a result, the group has an approachable, welcoming musical language. As the Münchner Merkur wrote of the group, “With both a healthy splash of gypsy blood and of Nordic melancholy, the musicians convey common roots and multiple cultures at the same time.”

The ensemble performs exciting traditional music for a wide variety of occasions, and they can adjust their programs to suit the needs of particular events. Their repertoire consists of instrumental and vocal music, including folk songs and authentic Alpine yodelling, presenting a musical cross-section that links country and city, folk music and high art. Particular genres include waltzes, Ländler, polkas, marches, Jodler, Wienerlieder, Gstanzl, and Schrammelmusik. The  roots of this music lie in the “long nineteenth century” (1750-1950), and thus it has close ties to Gustav Mahler, Viennese classicism, and especially Franz Schubert.

All the group’s musicians have academic training, and some are teachers and professors. They enjoy supplementing their concerts with workshops for children or students.   The mix of young players with veterans who have decades of experience has only strengthened this group’s ability to provide traditional, entertaining, and spontaneous Austrian folk music to audiences young and old.

The Tanzgeiger appeared in 2002 at The Bard Music Festival “Mahler and His World” in a spectacular performance designed to show the roots of Mahler’s music in Austrian folk traditions. They look forward to visiting the US once more this fall to play for concerts and dances and join Oktoberfest celebrations. They can also present lecture-recitals and musical workshops. Sponsors for concerts arranged thus far include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Missouri Humanities Council, and Grand Valley State University (Michigan). To inquire about possible events, contact Lisa Feurzeig (feurzeil@gvsu.edu) or Rudi Pietsch (pietsch@mdw.ac.at).


Members of The Tanzgeiger

Rudi Pietsch (violin, vocal): Vienna & Niederösterreich. Professor emeritus, Institute for Folk Music Research at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. Fulbright Scholar to US, 2010. Doctoral dissertation: The Music of Burgenlandian Emigrants and their Descendants in the US:  the Instrumental Music of the Burgenland-Americans in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. He also plays the Schwegel, a small wooden flute-like instrument. Currently he teaches in Salzburg at the Mozarteum and gives masterclasses all over Europe.

Theresa Aigner (violin, vocal): Vienna & Oberösterreich. Currently studying for a master’s degree in violin pedagogy at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. Along with her activities in folk music, she also plays in classical orchestras such as the Vienna Mozart Orchestra and in a traditional Viennese Schrammelquartett, Wiener Pretiosen.

Marie-Theres Stickler (button box accordion, vocal): Vienna & Niederösterreich. Studied folk music at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Now a freelance musician and a member of many bands, including Alma and Martin Spengler und die foischn Wiener. She also plays the Schrammelharmonika (a distinctive kind of accordion) for concerts of traditional Viennese music in Heurigen (Viennese wine bars).

Michael Gmasz (viola, vocal): Vienna & Burgenland. Studied viola at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts and musicology at the University of Vienna. Now he is a radio announcer at Radio Klassik Stephansdom and also a member of Ensemble Klezmer Wien.

Sebastian Rastl (double bass, vocal): Vienna & Steiermark. Studied double bass in Eisenstadt and Graz. Now he is freelance and a member of classical and folk music ensembles. He also plays the tuba.

Claus Huber (trumpet, vocal): Vienna & Burgenland. Studied trumpet at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts and civil engineering at the Vienna Technical University. He also wrote a science dissertation at the Institute for Viennese Sound Style. Now he runs a big construction company and is also leader of the brass band Die Schürzenträger.

Dieter Schichbichler (trombone, vocal): Vienna & Steiermark. Studied trombone at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. He now teaches in a music school and plays in the brass band Ma chlast.