The Ziller Valley is the most musical valley in the world,” says the band leader of the “Zillertaler Haderlumpen,” Vitus Amor. Who knew that a trio of 16-year old boys having fun with music would eventually turn into one of the most successful folk music groups in Austria?. In August, the Zillertaler Haderlumpen will attract 10,000 fans to the open-air concert in Zell. Our own Vitus Amor shares his story.
In the Ziller Valley, you literally grow up in the folk music tradition, among a happy breed of people who love their customs, play music with body and soul and know how to celebrate life. Here in the valley there are many large and small festivals and so we first called our band the "Three Funny Zillertal Guys.” We are still the original band members with our lead singer Peter Fankhauser on guitar, his cousin Reinhard Fankhauser as bassist and me with the Styrian harmonica. Because there are so many small venues and dance nights in the Ziller Valley, we had a great platform for performances in front of small audiences, and sometimes on difficult stages to find out where we wanted to go musically. We are three contrary types and had wild debates in the beginning, like should we sing "Sierra Madre" as an encore. But then, success came with our own pieces like "1, 2 or 3000 years,” and now we sing "I am a Haderlump" at the end. That's how you grow together.
Authenticity is the Key
As a young person from the Ziller Valley, you also learn another thing from the ground up...that succeeding in business is only one side of success. The key thing is to develop your own style and become your own brand – regardless if you’re a baker, miner, a musician or an hotelier. Here in the valley, you learn how to do your own thing and be authentic, learning from role models who’ve gone before you. That was very important for us as a young band, because the folk music market was flooded when we started out. Everybody (including your audience) feels whether you do something out of pleasure, love and conviction. That's the power, the energy.
A Down to Earth Life in the Big Mountains
A Haderlump is a local boy who always knows where he belongs at the end of the day. That suits the three of us. We appreciate the down-to-earth life above all else which includes our careers and families. I truly enjoy standing in my optics & jewelry store "Amor" and greeting customers with "Please, Thank you, Hello and Goodbye.” That grounds me just as much as when I take off with the touring skis or on my mountain bike in my beloved Zillertal Arena. The feeling up here in the mountains is as tremendous as singing on stage in front of a thousand people. That's why we cut back the number of concerts to 75 a year. It still means countless hours on the bus, but it’s during these trips that we create most of our songs – this is our fun time. And we still have a darn good time together.
After 55 years, Johann Egger the grandfather of Christina Binder-Egger, was made honorary member of the Zell town band, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. For years, he accompanied his colleagues on the harp at the hotel dance evenings and Aunt Hilda sang songs on her guitar for departing travel groups. Even today, Zillertal traditions have a fixed place in the DasPosthotel. Our guided hikes often lead to the Schwarzachalm, where Hansl, the hut host creates a festive mood by playing his Styrian harmonica. On the first weekend in May at the Gauderfest in Zell am Ziller (Austria’s largest spring festival), guests are greeted by an especially musical "Welcome!"
In the Zillertal, there are countless occasions and opportunities to hear traditional folk music and even to cut the rug on the dance floor – yes, the folk musicians from the Zillertal have contributed significantly to the fame of our landscape and flourishing tourism. This started with the musical Rainer family from Fügen who carried "Silent Night" out into the world and performed the famous Christmas carol before Emperor Franz I and Tsar Alexander in 1822. Today, over 200 music groups are active in the Ziller Valley and the weekly Schuhplattler and dance evenings are a permanent fixture. Not only have the Zillertaler Haderlumpen become first-rate ambassadors of this unique music tradition – but other groups can boast fans around the world including: Erwin Aschenwald and his Mayrhofner, the Schürzenjäger, the Ursprung Buam, the Zillertaler Mander and so on.
Vitus loves his profession as an optician and his role as a father to three children, each of whom are nine years apart in age. He likes to play tennis, is a passionate skier and biker, reveres Udo Jürgens and will drop everything to enjoy a tasty Melchermuas (a hearty Tyrolean soufflé-like dessert) made by his equally dynamic wife, Dunja. He has been a dear friend of Christina Binder-Egger ever since childhood.