A new chapter
A new chapter began for the singers' gathering in spring 1957, when Sepp Landmann, who was teaching in Reith bei Brixlegg at the time, became the compere. Although originally recruited as a compere, he soon outgrew the role. Sepp Landmann started to shape the singers' gatherings by choosing the songs and arrangements for the individual groups, and by contacting new groups. Traditional folk song was given a new lease of life. Witty and humorous, but never afraid to use harsh words, he denounced schmaltzy songs and songs purporting to praise the homeland as the worst enemy of authentic folk song, but he also knew how to win an audience over to traditional folk songs.
With single-minded determination, Sepp Landmann succeeded in getting his audience to distinguish authentic from kitsch and the genuine article from something alien, which could never have been achieved by learned texts, lectures or seminars. He always abided by the advice of the great Bavarian folk-song researcher and traditional folk-song revivalist, the unforgettable Kiem Pauli, who always considered whether the texts of the songs were written in the language of our country folk.
It is no coincidence that by the mid-sixties, the Bavarians were dominating the singers' gathering, as thanks to the influence of Kiem Pauli and Wastl Fanderl, traditional folk songs are championed and heavily promoted in Bavaria by all public amenities, especially radio. The Stanglwirt singers' gathering has certainly helped to bring about a gradual change in the way folk song is viewed by our radio service too, as it was not that long ago that folk song broadcasts were still singing about “endless corn snow and glacial ice”, “Alpine glow” and “azure mountain lakes”.
Sepp Landsmann was right. In the "Tiroler Tageszeitung" newspaper, Herbert Buzas' headline for his report on the 27th singers' gathering was: "A singers' gathering without schmaltzy songs and subsidies." Without schmaltzy songs – the credit must go to Sepp Landmann. The second observation, "without subsidies", should certainly not go unmentioned either. Is there a similar event being held anywhere else in the entire Alpine region that is purely private and has no kind of subsidy?
Where else can singers and musicians get together in such a friendly and sociable atmosphere as in the upper rooms and in the traditionally furnished Stanglwirt "Alm", where the old adage "Eat! Drink! And be merry!" holds sway. Where else would you find this informality, where a host of groups are invited and often no-one knows exactly what is going to happen until just before the show begins? Certainly a difficult task for the master of ceremonies! And there is bound to be a new, as yet unknown group at each singers' gathering, because all the groups at Stanglwirt will spread the word. Perhaps it is this informality, along with the traditional hospitality, that makes the Stanglwirt so attractive to the groups. The songs from the groups in the hall are usually just a fraction of what is being sung up above on the first floor. When the entire house is engulfed in folk music, it creates a unique atmosphere that is difficult to put into words. The best description of just how relaxed and friendly it is comes from Sepp Landmann "Aft is wida gschtiascht" – What a lovely way to be!
Stanglwirt hostess Anna Hauser
Anyone who has ever been to one of the singers' gatherings at the Stanglwirt knows just how special it is. So you can understand how dismayed the singers, folk musicians and friends of folk song were to hear that the Stanglwirt hostess had passed away. Stanglwirt hostess Anna Hauser was only 49 years old when she died on 21 June 1964. The chief initiator and heart and soul of every singers' gathering was gone! After Sepp Landmann's parting words, the singers' last farewell over the open grave was the devout “Andachtsjodler”. When they got back, they seriously considered to never hold a singers' gathering again. But one thing is certain: the Stanglwirt hostess had already an rendered outstanding service to folk song and if she had been able to have one more wish, it would probably have been to keep on singing at the Stanglwirt. So that's what happened!