From Augsburg to Berchtesgaden; from Passau to Coburg: Brass music is a part of every festival in Bavaria. Brass music is part of Bavarian tradition, and yet brass bands are as full of life today as ever: Exciting young bands combine traditional folk music with global influences. The village and town brass bands are gaining in numbers, as youngsters look to emulate their heroes from the stage. And the popularity of brass music is also noticeable in the world of handicrafts: Business is booming amongst traditional instrument makers, who still create trumpets, horns and tubas by hand to this day. The result is a contemporary sound, which is reinventing the Bavarian custom, and being celebrated at festivals like the Brass Wiesn.
The Brass Wiesn: rediscovery of brass
At the Brass Wiesn Festival in Eching, the Bavarian attitude towards life is celebrated in the summer by thousands of visitors. Everything revolves around a single phenomenon: the rediscovery of brass music: Resounding trumpets, jumping crowds of people and conviviality in lederhosen. The first thing that anyone who arrives at the Brass Wiesn camp site near Munich sees is: a lot of Bavaria. A "Goaßlschnalzer" whip-cracker cracks their whip between the tents; whilst visitors dressed in traditional costume wander between the hay bales and old agricultural machines towards the stages. This is Bavaria as we know it: traditional and with a lot of rural charm.
Bands such as Kapelle Josef Menzl, dicht&ergreifend, Sunnseiten Tanzlmusi or Die Fexer get the visitors fired up: Tubas, trumpets and horns, with modern beats, make thousands dance, jump and sweat. The song texts become a way of preserving dialects. The music sounds like home and, at the same time, like the wide world. It expresses the Bavarian attitude to life, which is always swinging between tradition and modern influences.
The next Brass Wiesn will take place from 5th – 7th August 2016
From brass bands to the opera house
But the brass band tradition also lives on in the opera houses of Bavaria in Munich, where the brass orchestra has seen the Bavarian musical soul rise to new heights. Christian Loferer is a horn player with the Bavarian State Opera, and lets the soul of Bavaria flow into his music. The man from the Chiemgau combines the Bavarian brass band tradition with classical and modern music.Loferer began playing the horn when he was just nine years old. His path led him to Grassau Music School, then to the Chiemgau Youth Orchestra, and, of course, to the traditional brass bands, which he played with for years. In 2005, he was given the permanent position of horn player in the State Opera – and he brought the Bavarian brass band tradition with him into the concert hall. He describes this tradition as the "Bavarian soul". "I notice it when I am playing music by composers like Richard Strauss. He wrote his pieces in the alpine uplands, in Garmisch. His pieces were influenced by the surroundings. From the ringing of cow bells that he heard, or the view of the Alps." For Loferer, the Bavarian soul is drawn from nature: "Nature is so full of life and diverse here. When he plays the horn, he allows the soul of Bavaria to rise to the fore in his music – it is a feeling that the man from the Chiemgau has carried with him since he was a boy.