This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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Helicons and Pigs

22 December 2017

Schmückt den Saal mit grünen Zweigen!
Tretet an zum bunten Reigen!
Auf und nieder, immer wieder!
Singt die alten Weihnachtslieder!

Zündet an die Weihnachtskerzen!
Hell und warm wie eure Herzen!
Laßt die Weihnachtsglocken klingen!
Und euch frohe Botschaft bringen!
Schneller weg das alte Jahr vergeht,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Heil die Neuen, ihr Jungs und Mädels!
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Lachend, alle zusammen schluckend,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Ohne Rücksicht auf Wind und Wetter,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Frohe Festtage
Prosit Neujahr!!!

This  wonderful card with its embossed musical pig was posted on 31 December 1906 to someone living in the small German village of Gahlenz which is about 20 kilometers east of the Saxon city of Chemnitz. For some reason pigs are considered symbols of good luck in Germany and appear on many postcards offering good wishes for the new year. The bass helicon, or helikon in German,
is the European equivalent of the American Sousaphone. Its long brass plumbing wraps around the player allowing a comfortable posture while marching. Or dancing. I don't think by itself the helicon is a symbol of anything except loud noise.

However this is not my first story of a talented pig. In my post Educated Sheep and Musical Pigs from March 2016, the animal trainer Prof. Blaek Doblado toured America in 1909 with a musical pig named Louie who could also play the bass horn. A case of life imitating art? Or vice versa? Unfortunately I have yet to find a picture of Louie so we will just have to use our imagination.

By a happy coincidence I do have a photo postcard
of a man playing a bass helicon.
He might easily pass
as a model for this postcard.

His name, location, and date are unknown
but I suspect he is a civic bandsman from the 1920s-1930s
who came from somewhere in central Europe.
Perhaps Austria, Germany,
Poland, or Czechoslovakia (as it was then known).

YouTube provided a very suitable video
so that we can hear what a helicon sounds like.

Stefan Huber, trombone, and Manuel Winbeck, helicon,
from LaBrassBanda

play their version of a Christmas classic.
Feliz navidad



This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where I wish all my blogging friends
very good cheer for the New Year!


Barbara Rogers said...

Ho ho ho-di-o! Pigs as good luck, good to know. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and very jolly new year.

Wendy said...

As I read this post, I kept thinking of that funny limerick: A funny old bird is the pelican. His bill can hold more than his belican. He can hold in his beak enough food for a week but I don’t know how the helican.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Mike!

Jo Featherston said...

That German translation of Deck the Halls works quite well, I just sang it to myself. Thinking of having a little pork belly roast for Xmas dinner, if I can find one down at our local beachside supermarket. All the best to you and yours too.

Little Nell said...

A German friend of my parents’ used to talk of marzipan pigs in Christmas stockings. One Christmas, when we played the game “I went shopping and I bought....” her item was “A nice marzipan pig”. I probably remembered it from fifty years ago because of the repetition of the phrase by each player in the game. Your post made me look it up and I see that marzipan pigs are indeed a tradition! Thanks so much for the memory jog, and another interesting post. Happy New Year.

tony said...

My Bestest Wishes to you Mr Mike for 2018 .Regards,tony


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