itinerant musicians - other languages

The "Musikantenland" (= Musician County) is a region of the "Westrich" called western part of the Palatinate. It belongs to the counties of Kaiserslautern and Kusel, beside the rivers Glan and Lauter, in the north of the "Landstuhler Bruch", a former moorland. In that region were 178 villages each with more than 50 musicians.
Most of them came from:

  • Jettenbach (532 musicians)
  • Mackenbach (427)
  • Essweiler (284)
  • Wolfstein (227)
  • Rothselberg (226)

The beginning of the minstrelsy in this region presumably was betwen 1830 and 1840. One but not the only reason was the poverty at that time. Many families left their homes in search for a better life, for example in North- and South America.

The first registrated musicians in Essweiler were Daniel Kilian in 1839 and Jakob Samsel in 1840 [2040]. Their instructor was probably Peter Hebel (1806-1858) from Rothselberg, who was registrateded as a musician in 1834 and 1836. He called himself innkeeper, musician and farmer and his still existing guesthouse is called 'til now "Speelmanns" (Spielmann = minstrel, musician).

Others followed and Essweiler became one of the most important musician villages of the region. Famous musicians from Essweiler are: Hubertus Kilian [1380], Michael Gilcher [0650] or Rudolph Schmitt [2330]. But there were many other musicians who, at least some years of their lifes, travelled through the whole world making music. 

The first destinations were the countries in the neighborhood, later the south of France and Spain, were many Palatines get jobs in the harbours,  England, Ireland and Scandinavia. Later they went to North and South America, were many of the palantines emigrated to, and Africa, Australia and Russia were visited too.  

Lots of the musicians came back to their homes in the "Musikantenland", even though the trips could last several years, depending on the destination. Their income was not only the lifelihood for their families, the whole region has the benefit: Instrument makers like Pfaff's or Sander's, music houses and tailors who made the uniforms. Other workmen got orders to build new houses for the musicians. 

Some of the musicians, as their talents were recognized, got an enhanced musical education and played in famous orchestras in foreign countries. They stayed there and came back to their home only for short visits. Examles are Rudolph Schmitt from Essweiler [2330] or Georg Drumm from Erdesbach.

The end came with World War I.Lots of the musicians were expelled or arrested. After the war, with the except for The Netherlands, they didn't get the permission for entry. Few of them got engagements as circus musicians. The competition of radio broadcasts and the gramophone was to strong.