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State premier Rüttgers promises folk song revival for re-election

DDP/The Local · 31 Mar 2010, 12:23

Published: 31 Mar 2010 12:23 GMT+02:00

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“We want to develop a broad programme for the support of German folk music with the state music council and choir association,” Rüttgers, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats told daily Ruhr Nachrichten.

“We must protect our cultural treasures. Because those who don’t know where they come from don’t know where they’re going.”

North Rhine-Westphalia , Germany’s most populous state, already supports a school singing project called NRW singt to which Volksmusik, frequently derided as hokey and outdated, will be added as a focus.

The state will also encourage the targeted “dissemination of German song treasures” in the form of books, CDs and computer games. Meanwhile the state's education and family ministries will work to incorporate traditional German music into school the curriculum.

Rüttgers’ re-election campaign has been hurt by allegations his party was selling companies personal meetings with the premier. The former CDU general secretary in the state, Hendrik Wüst, resigned over the affair after it was revealed that he had charged €6,000 for appointments with Rüttgers.

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A survey published in the Bild am Sonntag in February showed that only 11 percent of participants believed the premier had no knowledge of the questionable fund-raising tactic.

The May 9 state election is the only one this year, and could affect the balance of power in Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat. If the CDU loses North Rhine-Westphalia, Merkel’s centre-right coalition would no longer have a majority in the chamber representing the 16 federal states, and would find passing laws more difficult.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:30 March 31, 2010 by Henckel
Will they sing "Die Wacht am Rhein"? I know "Deutschland ueber Alles" (the first verse in particular) is not politically correct, as it mentions boundaries for Germany that would impinge upon other countries.
18:42 March 31, 2010 by vonSchwerin
"North Rhine-Westphalia's premier Jürgen Rüttgers has reportedly promised he will spearhead efforts for the advancement of German folk music if he is re-elected in May."

That's reason enough to vote against him. Yikes!
22:12 March 31, 2010 by maxbrando
For those of you Germans ignorant of the history of other Western lans, beware.

In the USA, you can find no one who knows the words even of our national anthem, much less Silent Night (we have no cultural history of traditional "American" songs). But we don't know anyone elses either! Thus, we have nothing to be thankful for, and no pride in our country either. There is nothing to remind ourselves of our past in song, unless you include Rap or black gospel music.
12:32 April 1, 2010 by wood artist
Max, I would disagree with part of what you say.

I think a fair number of people know the words to the national anthem, although certainly not everyone. It is, admittedly, a difficult song for most people to sing, simply because of the vocal range required.

I suspect most people know the first verse of Silent Night, but, of course, it's actually a German carol, and I suspect almost no one in the US knows the "real words." I may be an exception, but that's just me.

As for "there's nothing to remind ourselves of our past in song" I would strongly disagree. The list is long, and at least when I was growing up, we learned a good number of them. From Yankee Doodle Dandy through Stephen Foster's songs there are many. A good number did come from the Civil War era, and there are also a number of "Negro Spirituals" which are complete American in origin. Jazz, an American musical form, doesn't really have to many "sing along songs."

If you aren't familiar with any of that, I'm sorry. Some us are. I don't have a good feel for what is shared or taught to the current generation, but I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near enough. Unfortunately, we seem to have moved on, and other things have become "more important."

21:09 April 5, 2010 by dbert4
@ maxbrando - There you go, carrying as if the US has a cuture in music other than pop culture going back some 50 years.
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