By Carola Meusel
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
For those looking for “music for their ears,” the “Stuttgarter Saloniker” ensemble delivers a generous spectrum of musical genres year-round ranging from classic, chamber, ballroom and orchestra music, to swing and jazz.
The Stuttgarter Saloniker was founded in 1989 and focuses on authentic music ranging from classic, folk, jazz, swing to Vienna classic, opera, Latin, rock, pop and funk played with classic instruments, according to Patrick Siben, band master and musical director of the Stuttgarter Saloniker.
The ensemble consists of more than 100 musicians in various formations to include concert, chamber and ballroom orchestras, and a big band.
Siben refers to the group as the “orchestra of never-ending opportunities,” meaning that the ensemble is flexible about their musical choices. The lineup spans from three up to 16 musicians depending the concert and occasion.
With strings, woodwinds, brass and piano, the musicians play anything from classical composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach, to jazz icons such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin during 250 concerts per year, according to Siben.
“Music originates in the moment, and yet is always developing into something new. There are no boundaries. We play like crazy,” Siben said.
“Music makes people happy, whether they’re in the audience or playing an instrument,” he added.
The Saloniker plays from original, hand-written sheet music, and Siben owns an archive of more than 12,000 scores.
The search for original jazz songs from the 1920s and 1930s took Siben to Grand Rapids, Mich. He returned with sheet music titles to include jazz standards such as “Caravan,” composed by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington, “Summertime” by George Gershwin and “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael.
“The musical sound also carries the ‘Zeitgeist,’ or spirit of time … when it comes to jazz this is significant since jazz had to develop and became the cross to modern age,” Siben said.
While the Saloniker play through-out music halls, jazz clubs and during music festivals in the greater Stuttgart area, patrons should not miss out on listening to the ensemble at their headquarters, located at Villa Franck in Murrhardt in the Rems-Murr-District about 40 kilometers northeast of Stuttgart.
The estate was built between 1904 and 1907 and served as a summer residence for Robert Franck, a chicory coffee producer in Ludwigsburg.
According to Siben, the building combines art nouveau with Baroque architecture and makes for an authentic place to enjoy musical sounds from the turn of the century to the 1920s, classic, opera, operetta, early jazz and Latin.
At the “Jugendstilsalon,” or art nouveau hall, visitors will find blue marble from Brazil, as well as originally preserved murals, “Ludwigsburger Sternparkett” parquet floor and fur-niture depicting the ornamental style of the art nouveau era. Here, music lovers and history buffs can travel back in time with the Stuttgarter Saloniker during some of their matinee, coffee or jazz concerts listening to the Vienna Waltz by Johann Strauss or jazz. Events also include soiree and dinner outings, as well as musical journeys to France, Italy, the U.S., Spain, or the Orient.
“Our motto is ‘everywhere at home,’ and that’s why we play anywhere and everything; at the opera, on a boat, at home, or even in a bunker,” Siben said.
Four times a year, Villa Franck transforms into a ballroom of the 1920s during the Saloniker’s seasonal balls. The summer ball is typically held in August. Rooms can be booked at Villa Franck exclusively for the event.
To pay tribute to the estate’s former owner, patrons can also sample Franck Chicory Coffee, which is still produced following the original procedure, during the various concerts or at the “Franck Café,” which is open from May until November. The coffee is also known as “Muckefuck,” referring to malt or substitute coffee, that is typically produced of barley, rye or chicory.
During the Nazi era, Villa Franck served as a secret outpost of Stuttgart’s ministry of the interior. When Ameri-can troops arrived in Murrhardt in April 1945, they immediately took over the building. According to Siben, legend has it that Dwight D. Eisenhower, former U.S. president and supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe during World War II, played drums to a Glenn Miller song in the estate’s Jugendstilsalon.
Today, and in the same corner by the windows, Siben typically plays piano during the various concerts that the Saloniker hosts.
Villa Franck is located at Hohenstein 1, 71540 Murrhardt. Concerts at the estate’s park and garden area are also offered. Every first Saturday of the month, Siben hosts an open house event with tours of the building and garden area. For English guided tours, call civ. 07192-9340-36. The Villa Franck and Stuttgarter Saloniker can be booked for groups and special occasions. For opening days and hours of Café Frank, visit here.