Rudolf ‘Ruedi’ Rymann (1933-2008)

11. 10. 2008 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] You could hardly find a more thoroughly Swiss or Swiss-German gentleman than the folk musician Rudolf ‘Ruedi’ Rymann who died on 10 September at his home in Giswil in the Swiss Canton of Obwalden. In the public eye he was a musician and sportsman and by trade he was a farmer and cheese-maker. In retirement he was also a huntsman. He epitomised Swissness.

‘Ruedi’ Rymann, born in Sarnen, Canton Obwalden on 31 January 1933, was one of Switzerland’s most renowned yodellers and his Dr Schacher Seppli, his take on a traditional song, became (and remains) a staple of Swiss broadcasting. It earned him a Gold Disc in 1982. In December 2007 television viewers voted it Switzerland’s favourite song overall in Die grössten Schweizer Hits (‘The Greatest Swiss Hits’), ‘officially’ supplanting Polo Hofer’s song Alperose (‘Alpine Rose’) in the Swiss public’s affections. It tapped into the Swiss psyche and Swiss sentimentality. “Look at your land, isn’t Switzerland a dream?” could be taken in many ways flat on the page by not when ‘Ruedi’ Rymann delivered it. Over the course of his life, his yodelling skills garnered him tours to Japan and South Korea, Brazil and the USA. He remained active in music and as recently as 2007 Obwalden awarded him its cultural prize.

Rymann was a serious sportsman in one of Switzerland’s national sports called Swingen, which is a variant of Ringen, and is a form of wrestling on sawdust, especially associated with outdoor events. While I have your attention, the other two national sports are Hornussen, dubbed “Swiss golf” in South Africa where a community of Swiss expatriates transplanted the sport; and tossing a huge rock with the precise weight of 83.5 kg. He became the president of one of Switzerland’s most famous Swingen competitions. Held on the last Sunday in July, the Brünigschwinget, it grew into a celebration of Swiss folkways with participants attending dressed in traditional, regional Trachten (‘folk costumes’), flag-waving parades and music.

Two of his daughters continue the singing with their Jodelduett Geschwister Annemarie und Silvia Rymann.

To discover what became of Jodel try Bart Plantenga’s The Rough Guide to Yodel (RGNET1174CD, 2006). Alas ‘Ruedi’ Rymann is not represented.

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