Stephan Pflicht: The Gerhard-Winkler-Chronicle

I. Childhood and youth

Eltrnhaus1906 Gerhard Winkler was born as the only son of the locksmith Franz Winkler and his wife Emma, née Geisler, on 12th September in Rixdorf near Berlin, Münchner Straße 10 - from 1912 Neukölln; now Berlin-Tempelhof, Flughafenstrasse.

1912 His mother and father stem from Silesia and play family music. They both have good singing voices and his father also playing the zither. They support their son's apparent musical talent and buy a piano for him.

1913 at the primary school, where Gerhard Winkler has been going since 1912, a music teacher supports his love of music over and above normal lessons, giving him private tuition and plays the organ together with him. Gerhard Winkler composes his first song with his own words: a song for zither called An meinen Buchfink .

Eltern1916 The local vicar notices the boy's good soprano voice during childrens' services and so Gerhard Winkler joins the choir of the Christuskirche in Neukölln. Gerhard Winkler asks for an audition with Professor Hugo Rüdel, who conducts the Berliner Hof- und Domchor, (cathedral choir) and is accepted.

1918 Early in the year the Berliner Hof- und Domchor goes on concert tour in Switzerland. Gerhard Winkler belongs to the singers chosen for the tour.

1919 during the early post-war years Gerhard Winkler sings with the children's choir of the opera house in Berlin »Unter den Linden«, participating in such operas as »Carmen«, »Der Wildschütz«, »Königskinder« and »Der Evangelimann«. This will be the foundation of his love of opera, awakening his ambition of becoming a singer.

1920-21 Gerhard Winkler is confirmed on 22nd September in the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Trinity Church) in Berlin. His voice breaks, putting an end to his choir singing and his parents press him to take up a serious career. In view of his musical talent he is to be apprenticed to a piano maker and instrument dealer. During a visit to the company his father realises how physically strenuous piano transporting is. He doesn't want to put his son to this and decides to send him into the trade of music supply.

Gerhard Winkler takes up his apprenticeship with the Berlin music publisher Richard Birnbach, going on to join the retailer and publisher Robert Rühle after a few months, where he is employed as apprentice from 1st October 1920 to 30th September 1922.

1922 On 1st October Gerhard Winkler starts working as assistant for his master on a half day basis, thus being given the opportunity of pursuing his private music studies in the afternoons. He now pays regular visits to the Englersche Konservatorium at Zossener Strasse 55 and studies piano and violin under Professor Richard Engler as well as music theory and composition under Professor Friedrich Hoyer.

1923 On 14th April the students of the academy give a concert in the Askanische Gymnasium (Askan High School) in Berlin, where the chamber music suite Im Maien is played, including the movements Springendes Bächlein, Blütenduft and Abschied. This is the first public performance of a Gerhard Winkler composition.

On 31st August Gerhard Winkler leaves the retailer and publisher Robert Rühle in order to dedicate himself solely to his musical education at the Englersche Music Academy.

Attempts at establishing himself with choir and piano music fail so that Gerhard Winkler turns to music for dance and entertainment.

1924-30 Gerhard Winkler himself described this period in his life as the years of apprenticeship and travel. He seeks to prove himself in practise and takes every opportunity of playing in Berlin pubs and taverns and at private celebrations, collecting experience on the piano. He also studies the »Kinothek«, a collection of themes edited by Guiseppe Becce, composer and musical director, to accompany silent movies and he uses this experience as a pianist in silent movie cinemas.

Gerhard Winkler then works as pianist and composer in spa orchestras, dance bands, café and bar ensembles, as for example the Binz spa orchsetra on Rügen and soon after his own band in the Weinhaus Traube and the Arcadia Bar in Essen. He is introduced to the famous dance and show orchestra Hans Bund and Bernhard Etté and composes arrangements for them from his unpublished dance composition Trance Blues .

His first MotorcycleAt the age of 18 Gerhard Winkler buys his first motor bike in Essen, a 350 ccm engine, which he proudly describes in his autobiographical sketches.

He is asked to play on the Island of Norderney, in Mannheim, Elberfeld, Wiesbaden and Mainz. When Julian Fuh's orchestra plays in nearby Frankfurt, Gerhard Winkler travels there especially to learn the so-called jazz symphonic style of this orchestra.

The first print editions of Gerhard Winkler's compositions were the waltz songs In meinem Herzen klingt ein kleines Lied and Heut ist uns alles egal, published in 1930 by F.Marxen in Mainz.

1931 After having got into contact with the Berlin music publisher Ernst Wengraf, for whose Monopol_Liederverlag he writes several orchestra arrangements as well as some of his own songs, Gerhard Winkler returns to Berlin. Here he has his first big success with the students' song potpourri in three quarter time Es zogen drei Burschen, which appears in print just like his foxtrott Ein Glas voll mit Wein, published by the Monopol-Liederverlag.

Gerhard Winkler also leads a dance band, works as cabaret piano player and accompanies songs, appearing with, e.g. Otto Reutter, Claire Waldorf, Martha Hühner and Hedda Herrnfeld.

GW and his combo


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