Living Large, Hans Salomon Turns 80

Some say he invented Austropop, but today he’s celebrated with jazz parties throughout September

On The Town | Philip Ellison | September 2013

Hans Salomon has been a pillar of Vienna’s music scene for 55 years (Photo:

On 10 September, Austrian jazz legend Hans Salomon turns 80. It’s a breathtaking milestone – no small matter after all for a reed man – but there seems to be no stopping him.

In honour of the occasion, Salomon will be the subject of a series of tributes, joining an illustrious line-up of colleagues throughout the month of September.

Highlights include the ORF Ö1 Radiokolleg "The last Austrian All Star – music and life of saxophonist Hans Salomon". Also in September, a book will be released by the Maria Seifert Verlag, Jazz, Women and Jazz Again.

On 10 September, a birthday concert with H.S. & Vienna Big Band Machine feat. Marianne Mendt, Toni Stricker and Erich Kleinschuster, will take place at Porgy & Bess.

The grand finale of this month-long birthday celebration will be held on 30 September at the Ronacher, a star-studded tribute to Hans Salomon – 80th Birthday Gala, a benefit for "Künstler helfen Künstlern" (Artists Help Artists). This concert features, among others, Viktor Gernot, Andy Haderer, Maya Hakvoort, Michael Heltau, Erich Kleinschuster, Marianne Mendt, Richard Österreicher, Toni Stricker, DeWieners, and the Orchestra of the United Stages of Vienna (das Orchester der Vereinigten Bühne Wien) honouring its longest-serving colleague.


The inventor of Austropop

Born in Vienna in 1933, the saxophonist, composer and arranger, has long been at the front ranks of the European jazz scene. With international props as far back as the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, Salomon is one of the last of the great Austrian post-war popular musicians.

Salomon is also credited with setting off the initial spark for "Austropop" with his score for Marianne Mendt’s 1970 hit (with text by Gerhard Bronner) "Wie a Glock’n". But he may be best known for the radio signature that accompanied daily Ö3 programming during the ‘70s and ‘80s, a quotation from a composition titled "Michoui". To this day, "Salo", as fellow musicians call him, is musically active with Vienna Big Band Machine, and with his son Roman in the hip hop group DeWieners.

Coming of age at the time of the Austrian Big Bands and dance nights at the Wiener Volksgarten – playing with the Austrian All Stars, Orchestra Johannes Fehring, the ORF Big Band, and das Orchester der Vereinigten Bühne Wien – Hans Salomon has served as a leading exponent of a tradition that American saxophonist David Liebman once called "a godsend for the life of jazz."

It’s fair to say, with Liebman, that "the romantic image of the smoky jazz club and the whole jazz culture" found a definite resonance in Vienna where the café was a place to meet and hang out. It was a definite lifestyle choice, nurtured with the chops of Hans Salomon, Joe Zawinul, and many more.

Impresario George Wein (founder of the Newport and JVC Jazz Festivals) once said, "If it weren’t for Europe, there would be no jazz!" Along with a nice round number, at the birthday of Hans Salomon, we have this to celebrate as well.


For listings, see Jazz Events, page 24

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