Funeral marches, dirges and eulogies
It’s said that the Viennese have a penchant for the morbid. Death seems to be a constant companion, somewhat sinister, but also a good old friend. “Heite grob ma Tote aus” (Today let’s dig up a corpse or two),
sings the Austropop star Voodoo Jürgens. “Med ana schwoazzn dintn” (With a black ink) was the title of the celebrated volume of poems published in 1958 by the poet H.C. Artmann, who died in 2000. Fritz Ostermayer, FM4 legend and Artistic Director of the Vienna Poetry School, has a weakness for funeral marches and dirges. Growing up as child in Burgenland he watched the village band practising for weddings and funerals. And, by the age of six, he had already developed the enthusiasm for minor keys that he still holds to this day.
“My collection of funeral music contains over 2,500 songs,” explains Ostermayer, who has organised the programme of readings for the Kultursommer Wien. So things are allowed to get a little macabre. On 12th June, the poet H.C. Artmann would have celebrated his 100th birthday and, as a homage, there are two Artmann programmes. First, the author Stefan Slupetzky will read from his soon-to-be-published book of fictional eulogies, supported by Ostermayer’s sadly-beautiful funeral marches (31st July, 18:30), and then Voodoo Jürgens will play (31st July, 20:00).