Trude Mally (1928-2009)

25. 1. 2010 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] Vienna is a hothouse of regional musical idioms. And Trude Mally, who died on 4 June 2009, aged 81 in the Austrian capital, mastered two of the Vienna region’s three principal indigenous and typically Viennese folk forms. She sang Weanalieder (Wienerlieder in standard German, literally ‘Viennese Songs’ or songs sung in Viennese dialect) and Dudler, namely, the Viennese variant of yodelling. The third form, incidentally, is Schrammelmusik, an instrumental and vocal form named after the family that originated it.

She was born Gertrud Barbara Mally on 21 January 1928 in Neukettenhof – nowadays absorbed into Vienna’s southeastern suburban sprawl – and took to singing and playing the piano whilst still a child. She was something of a child prodigy and was performing on stage with her Dudlerin aunt Ady Rothmayer (1893-1975) – the word Dudlerin is the female form for a Dudler – by the age of ten.

During the Second World War Rothmayer was assigned to engagements and she took along her niece to sing a mixture of folksongs and Wienerlieder in an Austrian equivalent of Vera Lynn-style morale-boosting concerts for Axis troops in Norway, on the Russian Front or in field hospitals. After the war came to a close, Mally was singing for radio, on the musical programmes at cinemas – this was the era in which live music was a normal part of a cinema presentation along with (pre-television-in-every-room) newsreels – and touring with the likes of Hans Moser. She even appeared as a featured vocalist in films. By 1951 her life had aligned with the Matauschek Family – a family associated with Wienerlieder – whose son Fritz (1917-1977) she was married to between 1953 and 1960.

Mally’s career continued onwards and upwards, notably with the musician Karl Nagl (1922-1994) with whom she turned the so-called ‘Nagl-Stüberl’ into a major centre of the Viennese vernacular music arts. She went on to broadcast and record extensively. For many her fleeting, almost ghost appearance on Chris Strachwitz and Johnny Parth’s Folk Music of Austria (Arhoolie CD 454/455, 2009) singing Unterm Lindenbaum (‘Under the Linden Tree’) might be their introduction to her art. I hab di gar so gern (‘I love you so much’) Fischrecords 013, 2008) arguably serves her the best. Partially recorded at her 80th birthday bash on 21 January 2008, it is fleshed out with archival live recordings made between 1948 and 2003

Christina Zurbrügg’s out-of-print book Orvuse on OanweDudlerinnen in Wien. Die Lebensgeschichten von Poldi Debeljak, Luise Wagner und Trude Mally sowie der singenden Wirtin Anny Demuth (1996) and the documentary film spin-off, the Christina Zurbrügg- und Michael Hudecek’s film (and DVD) «Orvuse On Oanwe» Die letzten Dudlerinnen Wiens (1998) tell the tale.

More information in German at

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