Kastelruther SpatzenView in iTunes
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Kastelruther Spatzen reclaimed the sound and spirit of traditional German music for the modern era. Walter Mauroner, Valentin Silbernagl, and Karl Schieder co-founded the group in 1983, deriving their name from the South Tyrol city they called home. Following the additions of Oswald Sattler, Ferdinand Rier, and Norbert Rier, Kastelruther Spatzen scored their first hit with 1984's "Das Mädchen mit den Erloschenen Augen." Schieder and Ferdinand Rier exited in 1986, inaugurating the lineup changes that would become a signature element of Kastelruther Spatzen's long and winding history, although frontman Norbert Rier, Mauroner, and Silbernagl remained fixtures for decades. In 1990 the group vied for the Grand Prix de Volksmusik with the smash "Tränen Passen Nicht zu Dir." Kastelruther Spatzen did not win, but the exposure elevated their profile throughout Europe, and subsequent hits including "Eine Weiße Rose," "Che Bella la Vita," and "Das Lied der Dornenvögel" made the group the most commercially successful traditional German folk act of their generation. In the spring of 1998, Kastelruther Spatzen made tabloid headlines when manager Karlheinz Gross was brutally murdered. The group recorded a tribute hit, "Du Warst Wie ein Bruder," and established a large cash reward for information leading to the assailant, but the crime remained unsolved. The band continued recording well into the next century, releasing innumerable discs: at least one new album each year, and sometimes more (the only year they missed was 1999, when they were still in shock over Gross' death; they made up for it by releasing no fewer than three albums in 2000). In 2013, Kastelruther Spatzen celebrated the 30th anniversary of their debut LP with Planet der Lieder, which like most of their albums easily coasted into the Top Ten of the sales charts, peaking at number four. With a bottomless repertoire and a readymade fan base, their light, smooth, syrupy, and sentimental fusion of volksmusik and schlager continued to delight fans across Europe. ~ Jason Ankeny