We’re excited to continue the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with a video concert by Deitsch, a traditional folk band from Germany. In 2023, Homegrown is presenting a combination of live concerts here at the Library of Congress and video premieres of prerecorded concerts from around the world. The prerecorded concerts premiere here on the blog, and videos of the live concerts will be placed here a few weeks after they happen. So subscribe to the blog for more great concerts all season! This is one of our prerecorded video concerts, shot on location in Germany and presented here for the first time! As is usual for the series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!
Deitsch plays traditional songs and dance tunes from Germany, some of them 250 years old. For years, German folk music was neglected and nearly forgotten, or derided as old-fashioned and conservative. But now, arranged and interpreted in the style of modern folk music from Germany’s European neighbors, it emerges timeless and contemporary at the same time.
Geographically, Germany is situated between Scandinavia and the Alpine countries, between France, England, Ireland and Poland, and this is true also for the band sound of Deitsch: it has common elements with the music of all these neighbors, but it stays distinct and unique as well. This music may seem anachronistic in a globalizing world, the members of Deitsch say, but it can contribute to creating cultural identity and celebrating diversity and common bonds with others.
Gudrun Walther (voice, violin, viola, diatonic accordion) and Jürgen Treyz (guitar, mandolin, mandola, voice) had built up years of experience with award-winning bands and projects before founding Deitsch as a duo in the mid 2000s. Their duo recordings won many awards, including the German Record Critics’ Quarterly Prize in 2009. They have since added Barbara Hintermeier (violin, viola, voice) and Steffen Gabriel (flute, bagpipes, voice) to the lineup. All four are master musicians. Walther is also an accomplished singer, bringing old songs to life in a clear, memorable voice, and the other members complement her singing with four-part harmonies.
The band has consciously avoided electronic instruments and studio effects such as looping, to keep the sound consistently acoustic. Still, they imbue traditional folk music with contemporary arrangements that catapult it into the 21st century.
Now you can enjoy them too–right in the player below!
In the interview, band members Gudrun Walther and Jürgen Treyz chatted with me about German musical traditions, as well as the history of the band Deitsch. We spoke about the musical backgrounds of the band’s members, and the instruments they play. We discussed the group’s origins in the duo of Walther & Treyz. We spoke of their approach to arrangements, and the influences of global folk revival music, including Celtic and Scandinavian music, on the Deitsch sound. We talked about their use of recently digitized manuscripts and other archival sources. We even discussed the fascinating topic of German medieval rock music! See our wide-ranging conversation in the player below.
After the premiere, you’ll be able to find both these videos with more bibliographic information at this link on the Library of Congress website. You’ll also find them on the Library of Congress YouTube Channel.
If you enjoyed the concert and interview, check out the Collection Connections below. You’ll find links to archival collections, guides, and other materials related to German-language and German American music and culture.
Connect with Deitsch
- Visit Deitsch’s Website
- Follow Walther & Treyz Facebook
- Find Deitsch Videos on YouTube
- Listen to Deitsch and Gudrun and Jürgen’s other projects on SoundCloud
Collections Guide: Legacy Edition
- We’re updating our Country Collection Guides. Until the new German and German-American Guide is available, here’s a link to the legacy edition, complete up to about ten years ago.
AFC German Field Recordings Online
- German-language songs from the Wisconsin Folksong Collection.
- German American Traditions in the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project.
- German American Traditions in the Montana Folklife Survey Project.
- German American Traditions in the Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project.
Blogs on German and Related Traditions
- All Blogs Focusing on German and German American Traditions.
- The Story of Ostara and the Hare.
- Groundhog Day.
- The Easter Bunny.
- James P. Leary and Folksongs of Another America.
Videos On German and Related Traditions
- Esteemed folklorist Don Yoder speaks about The Two Worlds of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
- River Boys Polka Band play Dutch Hop, a German-American folk style.
- James P. Leary Speaks about Folksongs of Another America.
- Matthew Barton Speaks about Field collections of European ethnic communities in the United States.
Until Next Time…
Thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For several years, we’ve been presenting the concerts here on the blog with related interviews and links, in the series Homegrown Plus. (Find the whole series here!) For information on current concerts, and videos of past concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress.