The renaissance of the hurdy-gurdy in Austria is closely linked to the Viennese lawyer and singer Eberhard Kummer. In the late 1970s, he received a Hungarian hurdy-gurdy, an instrument that was almost forgotten in Austria at this time. He began to play the hurdy-gurdy as an accompanying instrument and adapted the French and Hungarian cranking techniques. At that time Kummer was the first in Austria to reinstating the hurdy-gurdy as a rhythm-giving element, mastering the so-called "Vierschlag", which is a certain kind of beat. He was one of the leading hurdy-gurdy-gurus in Europe. His technique inspired many musicians and his expertise influenced instrument makers. By now there are around 300 hurdy-gurdy-players in Austria.
Wolfgang Weichselbaumer – The master of hurdy-gurdies
One of those 300 hurdy-gurdy-experts is Wolfgang Weichselbaumer. He not only plays the hurdy-gurdy he also builds hurdy-gurdies in his little workshop in the heart of Vienna. He is one of the few, knowing the art of building this old instrument. Wolfgang Weichselbaumer has a very spiritual approach towards music, wood and instruments. Thus every single hurdy-gurdy he makes is one of a kind. His instruments are known for their tone, dynamics, stability and craftsmanship. Hence only view instruments leave Weichselbaumer's workshop every year. Playing and building a hurdy-gurdy requires a lot of skills and intuition for music. The unique bodies of his hurdy-gurdies are made of three different woods. The quality and shape of these woods determine the sound. Based on hurdy-gurdies of the renaissance and baroque, Weichselbaumer has expanded and modified the sound spectrum of his instruments. He developed the adjustable metal tangents and also the movable axle for more possibilities on the instrument. Today his hurdy-gurdies are in demand all over the world. Many of the current hurdy-gurdy players use his instruments, including Valentin Clastrier, Gilles Chabenat, Germán Diaz, Tobie Miller, Matthias Loibner, Ben Grossman, Marc Egea and Hållbus Totte Mattson. Many of the current hurdy-gurdy players use his instruments, including Valentin Clastrier, Gilles Chabenat, Germán Diaz, Tobie Miller, Matthias Loibner, Ben Grossman, Marc Egea and Hållbus Totte Mattson.