The early days of the singers' gathering
The singers and musicians are singing and making music for the hundredth time at the Stanglwirt in autumn this year, so surely we are allowed to take a look back at the early days of an event whose popularity knows no bounds - the Stanglwirt singers' gathering. It was in the post-war years when the worst hardship had been averted that the Stanglwirt hosts sat down with friends for a “singalong” in the parlour, and hatched the plan to invite people to a singers' gathering at the Stanglwirt.
Alois Käferbock was a friend who acted as the compère at the first singers' gathering in 1948. The “Mayrhofner Trio” with Albin Moroder, Friedl Pramstraller and Siegeler (Egger) Max came from Zillertal valley, and the “Saalfeldner Dreigesang” with Mitzi Herzog, Mali Fischbacher and Cilli Häusl arrived from the neighbouring Salzburg area. Toni Praxmair joined them with a small group of "Kitzbüheler Nationalsänger". The fourth group was the Stanglwirt Trio itself, with the hosts Anna and Lois, and Lois's sister Lisi.
The Stangl was one of the few groups singing as a trio (two female voices and one male voice) and it is worth noting that this type of line-up and singing acted as a role model for many groups in the years that followed. There was something else special about this first Stanglwirt singers' gathering. Although innkeeper Anna had planned to award prizes to the best groups and the gifts were already prepared, it was decided, after careful deliberation, not to hold an award ceremony or award prizes to the groups – and that was how it stayed for all the singers' gatherings at the Stanglwirt!
Every group received a memento to mark their attendance, giving these singers' gatherings a special atmosphere right from the start, which was to typify them and set them apart from singing competitions. The groups taking part are not competitors; they get to know each other in a friendly way, listening to each others songs and exchanging songs among themselves. Quite clearly, these are very sociable events. There was such a good response to the first singers' gatherings, which the organisers were not expecting, that the invitation to sing was sent out twice a year, in spring at the end of April and in autumn at the end of October. After Alois Käferbock, the radio announcers Fritz Bieler and Siegfried Wagner, Fritz Böck (Kufstein), Sepp Spachtholz (Kramsach) and Lois Plattner (Wörgl), hosted the evening and introduced the singers.
Although the first meeting only had groups from Tyrol and Salzburg, the picture would keep changing in the years to come. The Bavarian connection is an interesting story. It would have been early in the 1950s when the Stanglwirt hosts visited the "Jörgele" in Innsbruck, and it seemed the obvious thing to do to ask them to sing. The world bobsleigh champion Anderl Ostler just happened to be there and was so inspired by the purity and beauty of the performance that on the spur of the moment, he promised to come to the Stanglwirt singers' gathering with some Bavarian singers. The "Riederinger Buam", the "Fischbachauser Dirndl", the "Geschwister Hartbichler" and the "Waakirchner Sänger" were just some of the groups representing the neighbouring state of Bavaria with their authentic and well-presented folk songs.