Universal Artist Gerhard Bronner Was the “Conscience of Austria”

News from Austria (Austrian Federal Chancellery)

Cabaret artist, composer and writer Gerhard Bronner from Vienna died at age 84 in a hospital in Vienna on January 19, 2007 after having suffered a stroke a few days earlier. He had a decisive impact on Vienna’s musical cabaret during the post-war period. On New Year’s Eve he still performed at Theater Akzent in Vienna, presenting a mix of famous cabaret songs, such as “Der G’schupfte Ferdl“ or “Der Papa Wird’s Schon Richten“ (previously interpreted by Helmut Qualtinger as one of the heavyweights of this genre).

Born in Vienna’s working class district, Favoriten, in 1922, he fled from the Nazis to Palestine in 1938. He returned to Vienna in 1948, worked as an entertainer and pianist in Marietta Bar, which he bought in 1955. It became a springboard for many artistic careers, e.g. of Georg Kreisler, Louise Martini, Peter Alexander and Helmut Qualtinger.

The artist was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art and the Nestroy Ring by the City of Vienna. He recorded more than 60 LP records. In addition, he wrote scores for more than 120 TV shows and 2,000 radio programs, e.g. the popular series “Guglhupf“ – created jointly with Peter Wehle – and “Schlager für Fortgeschrittene.“ His achievements include the translations of the U.S. musicals (“My Fair Lady,“ “Alexis Sorbas“ and “Cabaret“) and new versions of classical operettas, such as “The Bat,” based on Johann Strauß for Covent Garden Opera in London. In 2004 he published his memoirs, “Spiegel vorm Gesicht.“ He created in 2005, together with Elfriede Ott, “Noch immer – schon wieder“ at Stadttheater in Walfischgasse in Vienna, which became a highlight in Vienna’s tradition of witty cabaret programs. Ott delivered a touching speech at his funeral.

Gerhard Bronner was the father of four children, among them Oscar Bronner, the co-founder and editor of the magazine, “profil,“ and the daily, “Der Standard“.

Numerous politicians mourn Bronner. Chancellor Gusenbauer described him as the “artistic conscience of Austria. He was a fierce critic of the dark sides of Austrian history, of which he had been a victim.” Former Secretary of State of the Arts Franz Morak considered Bronner the “Prometheus bringing irony into Austria’s reality of the 1950s and 1960s“. His cabaret songs became part of “the repertoire of popular culture.“ Minister for Culture Claudia Schmied referred to his death as an “irreplaceable loss.” In their obituaries Vienna’s Mayor Michael Häupl and City Councillor Andreas Mailath-Pokorny explained Gerhard Bronner’s “ambivalent relation“ to Vienna, as it was no longer possible for him to feel at home in this city.

Gerhard Bronner was buried on January 26, 2007 in a tomb of honor of the City of Vienna on January 26, 2007. Among the mourners was Federal President Heinz Fischer, who gave a moving speech.