This year the positively wacky trio Kollegium Kalksburg, constisting of Heinz Ditsch, Paul Skrepek and Wolfgang Vincenz Wizlsberger, is celebrating its 15th Anniversary as a true and indispensable institution of Viennese music. Thanks to them, traditonal Viennese songs have experienced a sort of renaissance in recent years. This trio really knows how to wrap traditional Viennese folk music in a most unique modern guise. With a good portion of humor, eagerness to experiment and driven by the spirit of renewal, the three virtuosic entertainers playfully cover a musical spectrum that reaches from the past to the present. It is an approach that has ultimately brought Viennese songs closer to people who basically have little or nothing to do with this kind of music.
The beginning of the band’s history reaches deep back into the 80’s, when Heinz Ditsch and Wolfgang Vinzenz Wizlsperger got together with Stefan Sterzinger and founded “Franz Franz & the Melody Boys”, in order to charm the Viennese public with their oblique compositions and highly idiosyncratic cover versions. Yet ultimately the plan to revolutionize the local music scene did not quite work out. Nevertheless, the trio managed to make a name for itself, which even today still stands for original Viennese music with a highly distinctive character. In 1992, the trio became a quartett with Paul Skrepek, however the new formed quartet broke up after two years.
The resurrection followed in 1996 under a new name. Paul Skrepek, who was entrusted with the task of setting up a festival for modern Viennese songs, convinced Heinz Ditsch and Wolfgang Vincenz Wizlsberger to perform with him at the festival as a trio. They named the trio Kollegium Kalksburg and agreed to devote themselves entirely to the original Viennese music. However, no one wanted to be confined to a kind of antiquity care. Rather, the three musicians were determined to form a bridge from the traditional to the modern era by including other elements of style and music. Viennese song was to be filled with new life and supplied with a contemporary interpretation. The goal was to attempt an elaborate balancing act between old and new, cliché and quality.
The very first appearances at the festival revealed that this trio was more than just another new band. Since the three honorable gentlemen Wizlsberger (vocals, comb, euphonium), Ditsch (accordion, singing saw, vocals) and Skrepek (contra-guitar, vocals) obviously could not have the material for a one-hour program right from the start, they switched to cabaret interludes between the individual songs. With a mixture of fun and spontaneous presentations of Mr. Wizlsperger and humorous songs, the trio was able to enthuse the audience. Even today, those lucky people who were present at this concert still speak of a memorable, even legendary musical evening.
Klangkombinat Kalksburg – Fleischhokka by mica
The first album “Bessa wiads nimma” was released in 1997 and was praised by the critics. All the releases of Kollegium Kalksburg are marked by its openess to all styles and genres and the love of experimentation. In 1998 the second work “Oid und blad” followed, in collaboration with the renowned Quartet Koehne String. On account of legal issues, the never officially released album “Sis Wos Se Bittls” honored the Beatles in a humorous way. A more experimental jazz level was approached with the clarinetist Martin Zrost and the Japanese performance artist Yoshie Maruoka on the album “A Höd is a Schiggsoi”, which was released in 2003. The original Viennese song was crossed with world music influences on “Imma des Söwe” in 2005. Three years later, a similar direction was followed on the album “Wiad scho wean”.
On the last release “schee is wos aundas vol. 1+2” from the year 2010, the Viennese song combo again took a radical change of direction. Under the project name Klangkombinat Kalksburg, Heinz Ditsch, Paul Skrepek und Wolfgang Vincenz Wizlsberger abducted, together with Oskar Aichinger (piano), Thomas Berghammer (trumpet), Hannes Enzlberger (bass), Christian Gonsior (saxophone), Clemens Hofer (trombone) and Martin Zrost (saxophone), the Viennese songs to jazz and again harvested enthusiastic praise for this ambitious musical balancing act.
Heinz Ditsch, Paul Skrepek and Wolfgang Vincenz Wizlsberger impressively prove that there is still something to say in the area of the traditional Viennese song and that there are still ways of breaking new ground. With their ability to reinvent themselves again and again, always raising their music to the next higher level, we may assume that Kollegium Kalksburg will be responsible for quite a few musical surprises in the future.