Portrait

Robert Payer and his Original Burgenland Band

In the idyllic town of Schwäbisch Gmünd in the south of Germany the musical career of the Original Burgenland Band began.

The leader of the Burgenlander, Robert Payer, stems from the outermost corner of West Hungary, the Hungarian Burgenland. He was born there on April 25th 1933 in Agendorf. He played French horn in the local brass band and later trombone in a military band. Already back then he was being engaged in composing and arranging music. Composing is having an idea, arranging is bringing this idea to life, shaping it. It is the duty of the conductor to develop both in harmony.

That’s why Robert Payer loves to be a conductor.

He used to be a private student of Professor Fritz Heckler in Heidelberg from 1973-1975 where he obtained a conducting diploma.

In December 1956, the then 23 year old Robert Payer came to Schwäbisch Gmünd where many of his fellowmen from West Hungary had already found a new home. It seemed obvious and natural to pursue the old tradition in the new hometown. Robert Payer took the initiative and gradually formed an orchestra. The Original Burgenland Band. It didn’t happen from one day to another, but almost took a decade until top level, professional quality could be presented by the amateur musicians.

Not only in Germany but also in Austria (and here naturally most of all in Robert Payer’s home county of Burgenland), Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and so on do fan clubs and myriad followers exist that until today feel inspired by the easy and unique sound of the ‘Burgenlanders’.

The same enthusiasm could be felt when thousands of people in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and San Diego came to see and hear the band during their three-week tour of America in 1971. In those days the German New York newspaper ‘Herold/Sonntagsblatt’ published an article called “A sound captures America”.

Also in 1971, the collaboration between Robert Payer and the well-known producer and co-writer Waldemar Simon began. Already their first common album contained such successful titles as “Kleine Anuschka”, “Wenn der Wein blüht”, “Eine Rose für dich”, “In der Weinschenke” and “Lasst euch grüßen”. All those songs are also in the repertory of the brassband Pilgramsreuth. Some of those Burgenlander successes could already be found on their first LP/MC production. Especially the songs of the Burgenland Band were and still are ideal for the Pilgrimsreuthers.

In the meantime virtually every brass band in Germany plays songs by Robert Payer. Besides the above mentioned titles, for example “In fröhlicher Runde”, “Beim Dorfwirt” and “Grüß Gott, ihr Freunde” are amongst the most popular pieces. There was Ernst Mosch who formed and shaped the Egerlander brass music like no one else and there is Robert Payer who created the unmistakeable Burgenlander brass music sound. Listening only to a few cadences from his band you will know: these are the Burgenlander. A musical accomplishment that is very rarely obtained.

A whole range of albums has been released during all those years, amongst them a (naturally) fantastic Christmas CD. They all carry the handwriting of Robert Payer, either as composer, arranger or writer. The latest CD is called “The great successes” and can be ordered in record stores under the following reference number: CD 324355, MC 224355 (Koch).

Apart from numerous (German) folk-music radio charts in which the Burgenland Band reached the first places (for example the unforgettable “Wettstreit nach Noten” of the Deutschlandfunk), there is hardly a popular TV show in which Robert Payer and his musicians didn’t participate.

The two emotional waltzes “Kleine Anuschka” and “Wenn der Wein blüht” have already become evergreens.

Robert Payer’s strong points are: honesty, sincerity, helpfulness and social involvement; his weaknesses: he is easily susceptible, too impulsive and very sentimental.

Being asked about his goal in life he answers: “Man proposes, God disposes”. Robert Payer knows what he says because destiny has not always shed its sunniest side on him. But he says: “Because of my history I have become even more sensible in my musical work; not more romantic, but more sensitive in composing, in setting the harmonies and in negotiating the performances to my musicians”.

That he managed to do so finds its proof in his great success. The Burgenland music style cannot be imagined to be absent in the brass music scene any more.

Thank you, Robert Payer, for this great life work!