The Sepp Landmann era
Sepp Landmann, the unforgettable compere of the singers' gathering from 1957 to 1987, soon became more than just the face of the event. He started to shape the meetings by suggesting, or sometimes insisting, on the songs for the groups. He wanted the performance of the groups to reflect his vision of real folk music.
We was definitely a great fighter for traditional folk songs. Nowadays the term "folk music" has become highly commercialised and it was thanks to Sepp Landmann that there was always a strict line between the kitsch and "phony" and real folk music at the Stanglwirt. Only the genuine article was allowed at the singers' gatherings – traditional songs from old collections, songs that were kept alive by oral tradition, or new songs that followed the original guidelines of folk music. He denounced schmaltzy songs with humour, as well as harsh criticism, and he made his audience understand his vision of traditional folk music. He was never lost for words when it came to the fight against kitschy and commercialised folk music. One well-known group from Zillertal did not like what he said and tried to prove in court that the song they performed at the singers' gathering did not belong in the commercialised category. They sued Sepp Landmann, and there was a court hearing in Innsbruck.
It was a unique situation, and the first time ever that singing was heard at court in order to reach a verdict. The news spread like wildfire in the courthouse, and employees, cleaning ladies, office staff and casual bystanders rushed to the courtroom, not wanting to miss this unbelievable first. The lawsuit did not achieve much. The adversaries reached a settlement, and then they all met at the "Stiegl-Bräu" pub to celebrate the outcome. It was a field day for the press, who printed headlines like "Singers' war at the Stanglwirt" and "The singers' lawsuit".