|Marching Band of Neppendorf - 1925|
"Neppendörfer Neue Musikkapelle"
Michael Gärtz, bottom row, 3rd from left
When we walked into the small museum at the back of my grandfather’s Lutheran Church in Neppendorf (near Sibiu) and found photos of my grandmother and grandfather’s sister on display, we realized how interwoven our family history was with this community. The same images we cherished in our own collection at home were here, 5,000 miles distant from Chicago, helping others to understand the culture of the Siebenbürgen Germans. (See last Travel Tuesday Post: Spilling Secrets).
But the museum highlighted a Gärtz my brothers and I had never known.
Although Josef Gärtz had struck out for America in 1910, the family of his half-brother (born in 1867) stayed for the next 70 years in Neppendorf, where the Gärtz name became inextricably bound to the town’s famous marching band.
|Neppendorf Marching Band|
display. Photo shown at top of post
No man is more associated with this famous band than my grandfather Josef’s, nephew, Michael Gärtz. He was the son of Josef’s twenty-two-year-older half brother. Born in 1893, Michael was a mere four years younger than his Uncle Josef. You’ll see my grandfather’s nephew, Michael Gärtz, in the photograph bottom row, third from left, at the age of thirty-two.
Michael was drawn to music at an early age. The twentieth century was barely new when, at the age of nine, he joined the Neppendörfer Blaskappelle (brass band), first playing the drums, then the Flügelhorn, an instrument similar to a trumpet.
|Marching Band-Neppendorf, detail|
Michael Gärtz, 3rd from left
He did it with passion and verve, leading the band to capture first prize in 1951 as best marching band in Romania, and in 1960, second prize. For a community that needed an injection of hope and positive creativity after the devastation of the Second World War, Michael gave his town a shot of joy and pride. Here is the conclusion of the eulogy for him I found online, written by a fellow townsman, Ervin Köber. I translated his words from the original German:
|Michael Gärtz, 1893-1971|
See photos and hear music of the Neppendorf Marching Band on You Tube.