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Composer Heinz Karl Gruber turns 80

er is undoubtedly a Viennese original. Anyone who has had the opportunity to talk to or interview Heinz Karl Gruber will be surprised by the wealth of quirky anecdotes that the musician born on January 3, 1943 tells with pithy wit. This creative wealth of ideas likely inspired him to develop his musical talent in a variety of fields: as composer, conductor, conductor, and double bass player.

The latter has almost fallen into oblivion, although Gruber, who taught from 1957 to 1963 at what was then the Vienna Academy of Music, was the chief double bassist at ORF Radio Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

The last time since his 1976/77 production of “Frankenstein!!” For baritone chansonnier and orchestra, the fact that Heinz Karl Gruber was also a breadwinner receded into the background. Because with this black ironic “Pan-Dämonium” based on the poems of HC Artmann, which allows a similarly deep look into the Austrian soul as the legendary “Herr Karl” by Helmut Qualtinger and Carl Merz, Gruber also entered concert stages internationally as composer.

He had already caused a stir in Austria with the ensemble’s “Drei MOB Stücken” (1968/1977) or the satirical “Reportage from Gomorra” (1975/1976), especially since these works openly relied on elements of folk and light music that he did not want to fit into. With the strict traditions of the Viennese avant-garde.

This puts “Nalli” Gruber, as he is called in Vienna, in the line of Austrian composers who are difficult to categorize in terms of musical history, including Kurt Schwertzik, Gerhard Röhm and Otto M. Zikan. They all share a humorous approach to the music, and its irony can be felt even where the lyrics aren’t used.

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