Welcome to Lotte Landl and her beautiful, traditional zither melodies...
“‘Sit back and relax’ is the motto to my Mother’s Day recording. I didn’t go overboard with all Mama songs but picked a few old melodies that we never hear anymore. Some sung in German, some in English. My own fun composition ‘Mama in the kitchen’ sounds just like Mama chopping away and hammering the schnitzel - guten appetit!
The front cover is an original painting from me when I was 12 years old. My Mama died when I was six, but I always went along with everyone else to draw for mother's day and celebrate somehow. I have kept this drawing all these many years. Relax, enjoy, have fun. Love from Lotte."
Lotte’s music transports you back... back to the beautiful Enns Valley in Styria, to the old farmhouse built in 1092 AD, to her 12 brothers and sisters on long winter nights, tinkling the zither around a big open fire. Lotte’s very first solo recording was dedicated to her 12 sisters and brothers who were orphaned at a very early age. Track one ‘Mondnacht ist’, was apparently her mother’s favourite song which made it most suitable as the first track!
Growing up without parents t here was always singing in the house. An old guitar in the corner of the corner table and songs and yodelling were continuous. Captured on these two special compilation CDs... Zither Melodies - especially for you... plus Snowcapped Zither Melodies Down Under are some of these moods to rekindle your own fond memories.
Lotte describes, “I found an old zither in our loft, it had no strings but I knew somehow it was supposed to have strings. I was told that Mamma played as a young girl and it was her zither. I wanted to hear some sound out of this instrument and found some very long horse hairs that I somehow wound onto this thing. It made little fluffy sounds. So, I wanted this zither fixed up and began to beg for it to be made up. I was then about 11. There was no money for anything like this, but I didn’t give in, I promised to go and learn from the village zither teacher Frau Danklmaier.”
“Somehow I succeeded, the instrument was fixed and I started lessons. They of course also were not free. It was arranged, that for payment for the half hour per week I would take a litre can of milk from our farm. So, for two years, come hail or snow or sunshine, I walked with my little zither in one hand and a can of milk in the other, a good half hour to my teacher. She was strict and stood on the various occasions with a ruler in her hand, ready for a bit of ‘teaching me the hard way’. She was happy with me and suggested I go to Vienna’s conservatory to carry on seriously with music. But this definitely was out of the question for there was no money for something quite like that.”
Lotte left home as there was nothing for all of the children to do or learn and she started working in restaurants, waitressing mainly, taking her little zither with her wherever she went and she developed a popular following.
“I met my Australian husband in this ski resort ‘Wagrain’, where I was at that time dental nursing for a brother of mine. I followed him to London early 1957 and we married the same year. My first few months in London I had a small job with my zither playing in a restaurant called MonaMe, people loved it.”
Lotte was encouraged to go on Hughie Green’s - Opportunity Knocks program which was a very popular weekly show on T.V.I and although very successful she didn’t win. The piece I played was The Cafe Mozart Waltz from Anton Karras which attracted lots of fan letters afterwards.
“After nearly 10 years in London, my husband decided to return to Sydney and raise our three children. Fortunately, I met another Zither player by the name of Johanna. We started meeting together every week to sing and play. We got better and better at it.”
Lotte & Johanna appeared on New Faces in 1968 and did well, getting as far as the semi finals. (John Laws was the judge of one of their performances and he loved them!). Australian Jazz pianist Graham Bell agreed to manage both of us as The Austrian Zither Girls and for the next two years he showed them the way to the Club World and what to perform and how. Then the ball started rolling...
They had bookings everywhere. Every weekend, touring with the famous Ink Spots from America. They were fabulous as the supporting act and the girls were often more popular than the main show!
“We recorded two LPs with W&G records and a third one with Billingsgate Records with Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart which was manufactured and distributed by Festival Records. We sold lots of copies after our shows wherever we performed and times generally were great. The very first one was the most popular one and people now still come to me in the restaurant where I perform and tell me that they have had this particular record at home since early 1970.”
By 1974, Johanna and Lotte were having difficulties some of the time, basically, they had done enough together and they split up in 1976. Just at that time they both received the Golden Cross of Merit from the Austrian Government. It was exciting, but unfortunately they did not celebrate the event together like they could have done.
“After Johanna I met Reimer. I wanted to carry on with club performances and started looking for someone. Eventually I came across Reimer who played the accordion. We worked together from 1977 to 1985 and did well, recording three LPs which we sold after performances, and we had a few TV spots.”
“When Reimer and I split up in 1985 I thought this would be the end of my music career, but instead, the best part came when I got together with Jay, who recorded my first solo album The Zither, The Guitar and Me which was all instrumental. This album felt really good, I could listen to it again and again myself. People told me they loved it, it was something different.”
“Many people stopped when this album came on the radio and even I felt it. Again, again, people said it is so different so soothing. For example, they told me their children just stopped and put their ears closer to the speaker, others did their housework to it, exercising was another comment and mostly ‘wonderful background music’.”
So Lotte kept working with music and was part of the 50 piece Sydney Symphony Orchestra and was guest artist playing the zither solo part in the well known Tales from the Vienna Woods at the Sydney Opera house for the New Year’s Eve Gala Concert in 1994 and again in 1995. She moved on from the big clubs, preferring to play in smaller venues, private parties, restaurants and for retirement villages, which was most rewarding. “I can see I make people happy with my music and I would love to record more of the old well known, beautiful melodies, says Lotte”.
It is music that is relaxing, and would make a beautiful mother’s day present or an ‘authentic’ Austrian Christmas recording. Lotte has a special kind of talent that was bestowed upon her and even though she has done a lot so far, she still feels that she could do so much more! Stay tuned!