German Music #1: Choirs, Greatest Hits of the Pipe Organ and Wir Sind Helden

Well, it’s happening.  I had originally planned to never review music in this blog, but I just can’t help it.

From September 2008 to September 2011, my life was tragically music-less.  From 2008 to 2010, I was in grad school.  I can’t listen to music and work, and with the exception of the occasional dance party, all you ever do in grad school is work.  Therefore, my M.A. consisted of two years of silence.  Afterward, I was working several teaching and odd jobs, which left only the car ride to and from work for music.  That year coincided with my addiction to the Diane Rehm Show, so still no music.

Enter Germany 2011.  With my new-found abundance of free time, I could actually read the articles from my Paste magazine subscription, watch Viva (German MTV), and listen to the radio.  I have also seen some amazing choir and organ concerts at local churches.  What finally tipped the scales, though, was the mix CD my colleague made for me of the 50 best German songs.  I forgot how much I love music!!!  German music!!!

In each of these posts, I will tell you about an artist or group.  Hopefully it will spark or rekindle your own love for Teutonic beats.  Personally, I’m having a great time.  Here goes:

I’m going to start the series with one of my old favorites.  The group is Wir Sind Helden (We Are Heroes).  Their big hit in 2004 was “Denkmal,” but they continue to rock.  Think Cardigans, with electronic touches, a sense of humor, something dance-y that reminds me of the Rolling Stones, and something grungy that reminds me of the 90s.  My favorite songs: Guten Tag, Von hier an blind, and Denkmal (aber natürlich).  Check them out and enjoy!

While I’m reviewing popular music, I also want to take a minute to shout out to the amazing musicians I’ve seen live recently.

  • Gabriel Isenberg – music director for the St. Viktor church in Damme, and rock star organist.  I don’t know anyone else my age doing tangos on the pipe organ, or with a pipe organ in his living room.  Rock on, Gabriel.  Rock on.
  • The Norddeutscher Figuralchor –  All of you out there trying to up your bourgeois street cred will love this group’s greatest hits of German-speaking composers, complete with Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Brahms’ “Ave Maria,” and Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor” (Look it up.  I know you know it.)  All you choir enthusiasts out there will love Mahler’s “Scheiden und Meiden,” which sounds like spring, and Knut Nystedt’s “Immortal Bach,” which sounds like human voices that have abandoned their bodies and transcended into pure sound.  This concert is worth the 20 Euro ticket.

If, as many studies suggest, humans are hardwired for music, those of you out there making it are certainly a little more human than the rest of us.  Respekt.

Do you have a favorite German artist or band?  Let me know on the “German Music” page.  Danke!


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About heidihefeweizen

I am a 29 year-old American woman who has received a Fulbright scholarship to work as an English teaching assistant in a German high school.
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8 Responses to German Music #1: Choirs, Greatest Hits of the Pipe Organ and Wir Sind Helden

  1. Awesome review, Heidi!
    We will definitely check these bands out.
    Have a great day!

  2. kathleen says:

    I AM SO VERY VERY JEALOUS. And I MUST get a copy of that CD your colleague made you! I have been meaning to ask if you’ve heard anything new from Wir Sind Helden over there. I have the first two CDs, but nothing else. I also just came across my unattractive Grönemeyer t-shirt from the concert we atteneded at Messe Freiburg in my closet at my parents’ house. Classic.

    I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS SERIES. Yaaaaay Amandalein!

  3. Herbert Groenemeyer!! He’s my favorite! I thought I was the only person in the US who even heard of him. I think I have all his CDs here at the house. I so regret not going to one of his concerts when I lived in Germany and would kill for an unattractive T-shirt.
    But I do have opera season coming up, so I can finally change my profile pic;-) Carmen!
    And I am jealous of your CD too. I never even heard of Wir Sind Helden and I feel left out!
    One thing I did love about living in Germany was the active choirs. I did so much singing over there. It was great.
    Let’s see now. Other favorite German singers/groups (after Herbert of course, and not listed in any particular order): BAP, Wolf Maahn, and Tic, Tac, Toe

    • The HG concert was awesome. There was an inflatable polar bear on stage. Thanks for the suggestions!

      • kathleen says:

        Ha, I totally have a Tic Tac Toe CD — one of my friends brought it back for me in like 8th or 9th grade when she took a trip to Europe with her family. Among the highlights is a track called “Furz.” What’s Sportfreunde Stiller up to these days? Also, OH, I just saw that Tenacious D is playing Rock am Ring!! You must go!!! It’s sold out but I’m sure you can find a way…

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