Banat DS Music Historian, Composer & Author

Rohr, Robert Nikolaus

Renown Danube Swabian Music Historian, Composer and Author, born on August 4, 1922 in Werschetz, Banat, died on January 10, 2008, at 85 years old in München.

The following obituary appeared in the Banater Post on February 5, 2008 under the signature of Stephan-Heinrich Pollmann: 

Music Researcher Robert Rohr Dies 

His knowledge & advice were always in demand. 

     The well-known music researcher, Robert Rohr, died on January 10, 2008. He was 85 years old. Robert Nikolaus Rohr was born on August 4, 1922 in Werschetz. After completing elementary school, he graduated from the State Secondary School in Werschetz. He then attended the private German Teachers College in Neu-Werbass and Werschetz, and passed his first-level teaching examination in September 1941. He was teaching sports and biology in Werschetz and Weisskirchen until May 1942, when he was drafted into military service. He served first in the Seventh Mountain Division (7. Gebirgsjägerdivision) & later in the Eleventh Mechanized Infantry Division (11. Panzergrenadierdivision). On April 29, 1945, he was severely wounded in the battle for Berlin, and ended up in the emergency hospital of Ketzen on the Havel and in the County Hospital of Nauen, which was under Soviet administration. From July 1945 to May 1946, he was in the KLV Lager (students and teachers from the Banat) in Windbergand Mittenfels (Lower Bavaria). During this time he had to undergo two more operations as a consequence of his war wounds. Subsequently he worked as an unskilled labourer and shoemaker, until he found work again as teacher in various schools in Bavaria; he finally found a permanent position in 1955. In 1959 he qualified as a government-certified teacher of stenography and took a course in health science for the preparation of auxiliary teachers. Until 1984 he worked as Superintendent of Special Schools for Learning-Challenged Children in Munich. He enjoyed his work as a teacher, and he wrote the book Lega und Steni, in which he proposed an instruction system for the prevention and avoidance of weaknesses in spelling.

     He was not only fully dedicated to his profession; he also dedicated himself to the concerns of his fellow Banaters and Danube Swabians. Since 1955 he advised them in jurical questions regarding pension law, and in 1959 he started his research on their music. He participated in and often initiated the establishment of many subsections of the Landsmannschaft der Donauschwaben in Munich. On January 3, 1963, he married Margarethe Weilinger, who also came from Weißkirchen.

     From 1960 to 1963 he self-produced six records, and on February 28, 1964, he founded the Donauschwäbische Blaskapelle München, later renamed Original Donauschwaben. By founding this brass band, he ensured the revival of the Danube-Swabian music in Germany and the old tradition was continued. He was also the first Danube-Swabian author of texts for songs performed with brass band accompaniment. The many songs he penned will remain unforgettable for many of us. Remember Rosen der Liebe and Bei den Donauschwaben, to name just two. Altogether he produced with the Original Donauschwaben three singles, 15 LPs, and three EPs,  which brought back a little bit of Heimat to many Danube Swabians; they are listened to even today. There are numerous publications by Robert Rohr, both as teacher, and as musical chronicler of the Landsmannschaft der Donauschwaben. He took part in many radio and TV interviews and published more than 250 publications on the history of Danube-Swabian music. He published the book Bayern und seine Schwaben (Bavaria and its Swabians) in 1991 and Die Donauschwaben in Baden-Württemberg (The Danube- Swabians in Baden-Württemberg) in 2004. For an exhibition he organized on the subject of the Danube-Swabian boys’ bands, he published the companion book Die Knabenkapellen der Donauschwaben (The Boys’ Bands of the Danube Swabians). As another one of his hobbies, he wrote poems and stories, and published them in 2002 under the title Spätlese (Late Harvest) and in 2005 as a book entitled Besinnliche Stunden (Hours of Reflection).  His songs for brass band were published in 2002 under the title Rosen der Liebe (Roses of Love).. Not to be ignored are his three volumes Unser klingendes Erbe (Our Sounding Inheritance) an impressive documentation of the Danube-Swabian cultural heritage from its beginnings to the present. This work can rightly be considered as his masterpiece and will inform many future generations about the culture of the Danube Swabians. For many years, Robert Rohr maintained connections with various scientific institutions in Germany and throughout the world, such as the German Archives of Popular Songs in Freiburg. The three volumes of this work are not only about music, but also about theatre, opera, choirs, actors, etc. in the old homeland, so that the books will remain perennial reference works for succeeding generations.

     It was upon his intiative that at the 1200-year celebration of the city of Neckarelz, a street was named for our homeland composer Silvester Herzog. Robert Rohr was particularly pleased when the Freundeskreis Donauschwäbische Blasmusik reported to him last year that that the city of Budaörs was honoring Silvester Herzog by a commemoration, an exhibition, and the publication of some of his music.

     After it had become quiet around Danube-Swabian brass music and Mathias Loske and I were attempting its revival, we met with Robert Rohr and Heinrich Klein in Munich on April 18, 1998. It was decided to bring out a double CD with an accompanying booklet with the title Historic Recordings of Danube-Swabian Brass Music. The publisher was Robert Rohr. On that day, the Freundeskreis Donauschwäbische Blasmusik (Friends of Danube-Swabian Brass Music) was created on the initiative of Robert Rohr, and today has a membership of 14 brass bands. In 2000 Rohr published the CD Unsere Liede (Our Songs) with songs by the Donau-Duo. In 2001 he published another CD with a brochure entitled Späte Ernte, which contained a poem by Robert Rohr, put to music by Adam Scherer and sung by the Donau-Duo.

     Many honors and decorations were bestowed on Robert Rohr for his work. In 1961 he received the Certificate and Golden Pin of the Association of Yugoslavia Germans (Bavarian Region); in 1974 the Certificate and Golden Pin of the Association of Danube Swabians (Federal Association); in 1987 the Medal of Honor of the Danube-Swabian Kulturpreis 1986 of Baden-Württemberg; 1989 the Merit Badge in Silver of the Association of Danube Swabians (Bavaria Association); in 1992 the Gold Medal of the Association of Danube Swabians (Bavaria Association); in 1993 an appreciation of his merits as honorary language teacher in the continuing education of teachers in Hungary; in 1995 the prize for Culture of the Cultural Community of all Danube Swabians in Traun (Lower Austria) and the Hungary-German prize for Culture of the Hungary-German Culture and Social Association; in 1999 the Honorary Certificate and Prinz-Eugene-Medal in Gold on the occasion of the 50-year anniversary of the Association of Danube Swabians (Bavarian Region); and in 2004 the Golden Merit Medal of the Association of Banat Swabians. Last year he received the Josef Gungl award from the Country Council of Hungary-German Choirs, Bands, and Dance Groups for his activities and his life work of research into Danube-Swabian brass music.

     Just a few days before his death, he sought to establish contacts with the Country Forum of the Hungary-Germans. That this contact has been successfully established and a cooperation has been contemplated— I was no longer able to tell him.

     Robert Rohr always felt good at the meetings of the Freundeskreis, and never shied away from undertaking the long trip from Munich with Heinrich Klein. He left his entire collection of musical notes to the Freundeskreis, after we secured a home for the collection at the Banat Culture and Documentation Center in Ulm, and the Association of Banat Swabians accepted the patronate over the archives. In the company of Robert Rohr we always felt happy, and many times he found a joke or a story to cheer up the participants, after the work was done.

     His knowledge and advice were always in demand. For as long as I have known him, I have found him helpful and charming, and many times, in his friendly manner, he found a solution to the association’s problems. Personally, I will miss his knowledge and advice very much, as will many other countrymen, who always counted on him to answer their questions. He leaves behind a gaping hole that is unlikely to ever be filled. He will live on in our hearts, and the Freundeskreis will endeavor to carry on his work.         

Translated by N. Tullius 2008/03/25

[Published at 26 Apr 2008]


The DVHH Remembers Robert Rohr

by Jody McKim

Robert Nikolaus Rohr, renown Danube Swabian Music Historian, Composer and Author, born on August 4, 1922 in Werschetz, Banat, died on January 10, 2008, at 85 years old in München, Germany.

Robert discovered in 2005, after searching the internet and found our presentation on Nicholas Schilzonyi, a once popular Banat bandleader, whom we both shared an interest in. The mystery surrounding the death date and location of Schilzonyi, plagued both of us.  

Robert was gracious and eager to impart to us his knowledge about Danube Swabian Musicians that he had researched for decades. To my surprise Robert sent me several of his published books, newspaper clips, and photos of DS musicians; and a special gift, -a copy of the cookbook his wife Grete published in 1995, "Rezepte meiner Omi."  Robert's contributions regarding DS musicians was very enlightening, and the DVHH has yet to published all that he provided to us.

Last winter, in one of the last letters, he provided the details about the Gungl Prize that he had received from the Hungary-Germans. The same details about this prize are included in the obituary presented to the left. The photos he provided below are the medal he received; the certificate; and a short eulogy of Robert's merits.


More information about Robert Rohr & his books

Robert will be missed! extends our deepest condolences to Grete & the entire Rohr family.





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