Posted by: Nazausgraben | July 10, 2009


If you live in or know of a small village, where a large gazebo dominates a neatly trimmed grassy park; where tall oaks cast their cool shade and the air smells of sweet lilac, where the sounds of children at play and scores of birds broadcast  their calls in beautiful harmony..where the lush grass is covered by blankets occupied by basket-laden mothers and fathers, grandmothers in their folding chairs, the tiniest newborns swaddled against the cool of the day, and children begging for yet another piece of pie…if you have experienced this idyllic type of early summer evening, then you’ll recognize what it is like to be in Pinswang during July and August.

So it was that on this Thursday evening…cool and crisp, more early October than July….S. and I found ourselves following the well-trodden tractor path across the large farmers fields ensconcing our Haus on three sides (the Roman Road makes its ancient meandering way along the fourth), headed toward the village’s outdoor covered stage where the first concert of this summer season’s Pinswanger Musikkapelle (band) is about to take place.

Hubert rode his ageing bicycle hurriedly past us, but in the opposite direction.

“I’ll be there…I’ll be right there!” A quick wave and a gust of air tumulting in his wake, and Hubert is gone. We assume that the ‘there’ was the same ‘there’ to which we were now headed.

Now, after but a short walk winding past six or seven homes, we arrived at our destination. A quick glance revealed that there was no gazebo; rather, one’s attention was immediately drawn to the simple but elegant covered stage.

The Pinswang Village Stage is a relatively new structure, curved slightly into a wide covered half-moon with the larger bow opening shell-like onto a large open grassy area.  The stage sits an arm’s length each between two buildings. On the west side, you’ll find the combination fire house/Pinswanger Musikkapelle (band) and Chorverein (Choral Association) rehearsal halls; on the east side sits the combination Rathaus (government building with the Mayor’s Office within)/kindergarten/elementary school/village meeting hall.

Directly in front of the stage are lines of 12 or more long picnic tables and benches, all positioned so that attendees must look 90-deg. to the side to see the stage and its occupants.

There were no gaily decorated and overflowing picnic baskets to be seen. Rather, the evening’s abundance of food and drink came from a single small wooden hut sitting next to he west wall of the Rathaus.

This hut is a remarkable little edifice; mounted atop a two-wheeled anhanger (trailer), finely balanced on all sides so as to seemingly defy gravity. The hut is used all the year around. During each Advent and Christmas, it is transported to the village fountain near Toni’s house where hot spiced gluewein is dispensed to the ice-cold late night revelers. Tonight, as every night during the summer concerts, one finds Walter and Monika within, dispensing wine spritzers, cold bottled beers, sausages, pretzels and tonight a special 5-alarm chili con carne.

“Servus, Grüß Dich! (literally, ‘Hello, I greet you!) , Grüß Gott! (God’s Greetings). This is how you will be greeted by Austrians. Should you employ these forms of greeting to anyone in the German-speaking world outside of Austria, you should not be surprised when you receive an odd look and a formal ‘Guten Tag’ reply from the target of your greeting. But here, just looking around from our front row orchestra-level bench, multitudes of ‘Servus’s and ‘Grüß Gott’s collided with one another midair as they were sent projectile-like above the heads of those gathered. 

To energetic applause akin to opening night at most major concert halls, the Pinswang Musikkapelle made their way the short distance from their rehearsal hall to the stage. This award-winning ensemble was splendid to behold, proudly bedecked in their colorful uniforms of lederhosen and loden jackets for the men and long dirndls worn by the women.


Photo from the Musikapelle Pinswang website:

On the photo, you’ll note some young ladies standing off to either side of the stage. What they are toting over their shoulders are not musical instruments; rather, they are instruments of imbibing pleasure. For these are the ‘Marketenderin’, the Schnapps Ladies. From their small belt-borne kegs (resembling those carried about the necks of gallant St. Bernard rescue dogs digging out and reviving near-frozen avalanche victims in numerous dramatic (and very fictitious) photos of old), one may (for about 1 Euro) have a shot of whatever the schnapps of the day may be. There are no bottles, no labels, and no idea what is to come until it reaches ones lips. Regardless of the fruit from which the schnapps has fermented, the result is a splendid cacophony of tastes that change in nature and scope as the elixir moves from lips to tongue and beyond.

A quick swallow of the entire metal shot-cup full (sipping is streng verboten!) signals that the journey has commenced. There is a first strong, very fruity sting that gives the impression of being exothermic and at the same time numbing. The surprise continues as this liquid warmth encompasses ones entire mouth and bathes the throat in its July heat. Ones abdomen similarly reflects this glow, and all is well with the world. Another? Well…perhaps MUCH later!

For now, Sigi has just introduced the first Kaiser und Koenig period (around 1914) march; a stirring Bohemian work wherein woodwinded folk melodies are combined with victorious brass and a time-keeping bass drum and cymbal-playing team. What a rousing start..guaranteed to awaken those who have been spending too much of the early evening with the aforementioned elixir.

The march closed and a round of very enthusiastic applause ensued. The Musikkapelle was in typically very fine form. One must keep in mind that the players are performing for mostly the einheimisch (locals) as well as tourists. One hundred or so Musikkapelle players consist of approximately 25 percent of the entire Pinswang population, and their audience contains many of their families…an unabashedly positively biased, lovingly supported group of listeners.

So it was, this Fallish Summer evening in the Tirolen Ausserfern. The sausages and chili were digested in abundance, and the bier and wine bottles were placed neatly back in their many plastic kiste (racks) for storage. The band kept playing, an eclectic program of splendid old marches, polkas, Broadway tunes, a modern Spanish composition, but always back to the much beloved traditional folk tunes and marches. This is where the audience really loved to dwell. There was talking in between each work, but attention was stilled and fixed to the players with each new work performed.

The moon rose and the night really took on a chill as the final march was played. An approving din of applause rose from the audience punctuated by ‘Zugabe!!! Zugabe!!!’ (Encore! Encore!). Zugabe they did, as two more works were played. Eventually, the time came to pack away the instruments, and the Musikkapelle left the stage…coming down into the audience to join family and friends.

We spoke with some of our friends in the band and marveled at how Ernst could so adroitly play the wooden spoons that he had himself fashioned from rosewood. One of the works called for these as a tempo-driving percussive instrument, and the complex rhythms generated by Ernst’s playing were truly a marvel to behold! I attempted to imitate his feat of syncopated rhythms with two metal forks, but failed to generate more than a tinny grinding of teeth and splash of sausage grease on my blue jean leg. Alas, an eating utensil virtuoso I shall never be.

Long talks took us all well into the late night, and we were the last group of friends to pack away the two park benches and table onto their supports next to the greatly lightened gluehwein hut.

My bride and I walked slowly home in the pitch, the moon obscured by the next group of rain-laden storm cells that were passing over the  mountains to the north and bathing our valley in a chilly mist. With the evenings music still playing in our minds ears, we found ourselves making our way back to our home…half singing, half polka-ing along the now soggy path across the farmers fields.

I noted that the lights were on and smoke from our Kachelofen (enclosed tile fireplace) was streaming Heavenward. We quickened our steps just abit, anticipating the wall of warm welcome that would greet us as we opened the door facing the Roman Road.


  1. Well today is the 18th and I haven’t seen a new blog in about a week. We’re WAIting…. 🙂
    How about a nice Schnäpsle to warm you up in case the digits have gone cold in this triste weather? The trout are in the freezer waiting to be picked up.
    Love, Kraeutermadl

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