Local Brass Band Concerts are a Musical Highlight
As a long-serving ‘Marketenderin’ (the lady who serves Schnapps at local events) with the Mayrhofen Village Band, I have watched countless band concerts and would love to find out the history behind this tradition. Who better to help me on my fact-finding mission than former conductor and clarinettist in Mayrhofen Band, "baton-waving Hones".
Music – Camaraderie - Sense of Pride
We have proudly marched side by side for many years and I am sure that someone who has been in Mayrhofen Band for around 55 years can tell me how the weekly concerts came about much better than any books. So I met Hans to ask him why he has been so dedicated to the band for so long. He was not at all surprised by the question and answered, almost without thinking: "music, camaraderie and a sense of pride". Without a love of music you can’t be a musician. When they’ve finished playing, the musicians sit together, have some laughs and enjoy each other’s company. And, after so many years, a sense of pride in playing well, creating beautiful music and delighting audiences is also very important to Hans.
Tyrolean Tradition: How it all began in Mayrhofen…
You might think that the formation of a town band is a momentous event. But, in Mayrhofen, it was quite the opposite. Around 1800 a few good friends who could play musical instruments came together and played as a group. Back then, anyone who could play an instrument half decently was welcome to join in. And that’s how Mayrhofen’s town band was first formed.
Planning Concerts before E-mail
Nowadays, I find out when and where a concert is taking place via SMS or e-mail. But how did the band members communicate before these electronic inventions? Hans tells me that one or two members of the band would get on their bikes and cycle from house to house telling everyone when the next event was taking place. The band leader was on the road for quite some time until everyone was duly informed.
Boom in Summer Tourism
For many years the band members played music purely for the enjoyment of themselves, friends, family and other Ziller Valley locals. Then tourism arrived in the valley and the first visitors came to Mayrhofen. The former mayor of Mayrhofen and his associates were so excited that they took the town band with them to the train station to greet the first guests. This would be unthinkable today with the sheer number of tourists who visit Mayrhofen-Hippach. Being part of a town band is still a hobby and, if the band were to greet every guest who arrived in Mayrhofen-Hippach, this would be more than a fulltime job!
Music Beyond Borders
Guests came to Mayrhofen from abroad and the musicians also started to travel abroad. So-called promotional tours gave the young musicians, who were often not from wealthy backgrounds, the opportunity to travel to other countries and experience other cultures. Hans tells me that the first promotional tours took place in the 1950s. Back then, employers were more accepting of musicians’ commitments and were proud to have musicians working for them. It wasn’t a problem if an employee missed an afternoon of work to play in a concert.
From Event to Event with Mayrhofen Town Band
Between the 1950s and 1960s the band concerts took place in front of Mayrhofen’s largest hotels and the town hall. The most common locations were:
- Gasthof Brücke
- Hotel Strass
- Hotel Rose
- Hotel Neue Post
The decision to fix the location of the concerts was only made in the 1960s. From then on, the band played every Wednesday in the Josef-Riedl square. The musicians and their audience thoroughly enjoyed the concerts. As a reward they were given a barrel of beer and a snack of sausage, cheese and bread.
One concert soon became two, every Wednesday and Friday, as well as an appearance at the weekly Tyrolean Evening. In addition, the band would march and play at church festivals. One event swiftly followed another.
2 Centuries of Tyrolean Tradition
And that’s how it came to be that music can be enjoyed in every village in the region of Mayrhofen-Hippach - Brandberg, Ginzling, Ramsau, Hippach and Mayrhofen. In Mayrhofen the band started with just a few friends and now boasts 50 musicians. However, Hans is adamant that the most important thing remains: "Den Huagacht und es banonda hockn" (Having fun and enjoying each other’s company)!
Do you want to find out more? Then come along to the concerts in Brandberg, Ginzling, Hippach, Mayrhofen und Ramsau and hear for yourself. Entrance is free! The concert season starts in June and the last notes will be played in September.
An original Ziller Valley Schnapps from a friendly "Markerenderinnen" is a vital part of enjoying any village concert.