Next weekend (17-19 June), a dream is going to come true for me and my sister. We are heading to Interlaken for a music festival. Not a muddy festival in a field, and not rock, pop, classical or jazz. Nein! We are off to a fantastic, joyful, colourful Jodlerfest, which is so large and complicated to organise that it only takes place every three years.
Since age zero both of us have been fans of the yodel, thanks initially to a record of Swiss mountain music belonging to my mother, and later to a succession of Austrian and Swiss tapes gathered by my parents during trips around the Alps.
Most skiers I know – outside my immediate family, that is – view mountain music with disdain. This includes many of my Swiss friends (though fewer of my Austrian ones). Out of season I do my best to inflict the stuff on passengers in my car and sometimes sneak on Swiss and Austrian CDs in company at home.
In winter, I have found it increasingly hard to track down apres-ski spots with live traditional music. A favourite of ours was Kurt von Allmen, who played, sang and yodelled in the Blumental restaurant in Muerren until a few years before he died (he also skiied in more than 40 Infernos); there is a nightly band in the Schweizerhof Stuebli in Zermatt (but not always with yodelling), and I have also stumbled upon traditional bands during Austrian apres-ski. In general, though, it seems easier to find live mountain music in summer.
I’ve been researching who will be among the 10,000-plus yodellers, flag-wavers and Alphorn blowers taking part next weekend. Most, of course, are from Switzerland (including the French-speaking part). But to my surprise, the list includes participants from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. A closer look reveals that there will also be a JodlerKlub from South Korea and a Jodlerchoerli (little choir) from Tokyo. I will certainly seek them all out and I’m fascinated to find out whether they’ll be wearing dirndls and lederhosen.
When surfing various yodel sites I found a superb blog that features lots of recordings of worthwhile yodels (even I admit there is such a thing as a dud). This is the address for the info page http://mademoisellemontana.wordpress.com/about/ The writer hasn’t posted for a couple of years but check out the archive – especially the posts containing links to recordings.
Hopefully I’ll be able to make recordings of my own next weekend. Maybe, just maybe, some readers will then begin to share my enthusiasm – or am I being too optimistic?
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