The Wanderer – in Jerusalem

The Departure of the Wanderer

„There, where you are not, lies happiness” sings the Wanderer in Schubert’s probably most famous song based on a poem by G.P. Schmidt von Lübeck. The „Wanderer“ was a major motive of the romantic period. Time and again the image of a the restless wayfarer, who remains a stranger wherever he wanders, recurs in Schubert’s œuvre. This alone could have been reason enough to give our program, planned to tour from Hohenems, a town known for hosting the international Schubertiade Festival, to Schubert’s birthplace Vienna and from there to Jerusalem, the title „Die Wanderer“. But there is a lot more to our story of „Die Wanderer“.

Schubert’s friend, the celebrated Hohenems born cantor Salomon Sulzer who was gifted with a legendary baritone voice, performed many of Schubert’s creations. According to Ludwig August Frankl, a writer of the time, Schubert asked Salomon Sulzer to sing his ‘Wanderer’ song and he must have done this so beautifully that Schubert begged him to repeat the piece several times declaring that only now he finally understood his own music and what he felt when he wrote it.
But Salomon Sulzer, the famous chief cantor of Vienna, was not only admired for his vocal performance which attracted people from all over the world to travel to Vienna only to hear him, he also happened to be a highly skilled composer himself. While he is recognized as one of the most important composers and arrangers of synagogal music, his secular compositions are nearly forgotten today. Among his many creations is his „Wandererlied“ which we decided to use as an overture to our concert program.

An Ensemble United in Diversity

Nowadays it is normal in the daily music business, that musicians from different corners of the world work together in one project. The language of music is international, and every single artist working on a professional level will soon find himself in ensembles of different nationalities, languages and cultural backgrounds. This is the world of music and for the future richness of the arts we may all hope that this openness and diversity will remain forever.

Nevertheless, even in today’s boundless music scene, you will find it hard to attend an event including Israeli and Palestinian artists. I do not want to immerse in politics, as this is not the place to discuss the reasons. But the many fears and legal obstacles sadly hinder many Israeli-Palestinian collaborations, even on artistic neutral grounds. The luckier we felt that for this project, starting in Hohenems, it was possible to bring together artists from Canada, Finland, Austria, Germany as well as from Israel and Palestine. A group of former strangers, wandering from now on together to present to its audience the works of Franz Schubert, Salomon Sulzer, Joseph and Julius Sulzer.
Joseph and Julius were sons of Salomon Sulzer, both of them accomplished composers themselves and their pieces felt like such precious, interesting and beautiful discoveries that we could not resist adding them to our program.

Our performances at the Salomon Sulzer Auditorium in Hohenems, the Hamakom Theatre in Vienna and at the Imperial Salon of the Austrian Hospice in the very heart of Jerusalem’s Old City where received by an audience full of curiosity and enthusiasm. We didn’t know how people would react to a program which was so unconventional, if not to say daring, building bridges between classic romantic Viennese and traditional Jewish and Palestinian creations presented by an ensemble reflecting this diversity, being at the same time united by a professional musical approach and the will to give birth to a sparkling musical solitaire.

The many administrative and organizational barriers were finally worth everything when hearing comments like „This was unforgettable“, „what a special evening“, „what a discovery“ and reading reactions of audience members about how moved they were, waiting for more concerts to follow.


Jerusalem was in every respect the big final of our Wanderer tour. The Old City has an ambiance that is difficult to define. A friend of mine once said, this city offers you heaven and hell, more often the latter, but in the end, it is the salt and pepper of life. What would Jerusalem offer to us?

Hiba Awad, Rita Tawil and Jamila Zaatreh

Our ensemble was hosted in the gracious historical setting of the Austrian Hospice situated on the Via Dolorosa, only a few steps from the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family in Jerusalem opened its doors in 1863 during the Habsburg monarchy as the first national pilgrim’s residence in Jerusalem when pilgrimages to the Holy Land were undertaken by Catholic clergymen and orient travelers imbued with the spirit of Romanticism. We couldn’t have dreamed of a more suitable and atmospheric location for our last concert. At the same time, the Old City brings a certain unpredictability with it.

Lorne Richstone and Shira Karmon

Also we had to ask ourselves, will we be welcomed or will people dislike the fact that our ensemble consists of European, Canadian, Israeli and Palestinian artists? In Europe we are able to look at the Middle Eastern conflict with a certain distance. Our young Palestinian singers had to face a tremendous amount of bureaucratic requests during their visa process and spent hours in security checks at the airport but then, as soon as we all arrived in Hohenems, we had the luxury to focus fully on the music. Here in the center of Jerusalem, the situation is different. People here live the conflict and, especially in the Old City, they are effected by it every single day of their life.

Liina Leijala

Due to experiences with former cultural projects in the region I couldn’t help myself but worry if there might be a prostest or some other problem arising from one side or the other at the last moment. There was in fact one impediment, although not related to the project: The Russian prime minister Dmitri Medwedew visited Jerusalem on the very day of our concert thus the Israeli police decided to block basically all roads that would lead to the Old City. Several of our expected guests got stuck in traffic jams and didn’t make it to the concert. The road blocks weren’t announced, another proof of Jerusalem’s unpredictability.

Rita Tawil, Jamilah Zatreeh, Veronika Dünser and Karl Kronthaler

But once our pianists’ hands were set on the beautiful old Bösendorfer grand piano and our singers raised their voices in the venerable Imperial Salon, all worries and sorrows vanished in the melodies of Franz Schubert, Salomon Sulzer and his sons.
For us it was more than a project. More than a musical concept. And this is why we hope that our story will not end in Jerusalem. Because wherever he is, a true „Wanderer“ will never stop searching for happiness. After this project and all the unforgettable encounters we experienced together in Hohenems, Vienna and Jerusalem I wonder, don’t we all have a bit of a Wanderer in our hearts?
The Wanderer keeps traveling from land to land and – hopefully – so will the spirit of this unique project. So let us end with a quote from Sulzer’s Wanderer-song: „Beat happy my heart, be joyful and free, the world is big and wide!“

Petra Klose

Fragments from the Burgauer story

The early Burgauer mansion on Leonhardstreet 8 in St. Gallen.
The early Burgauer mansion on Leonhardstreet 8 in St. Gallen.

This week was marked by a moving evening event. Even if it wasn’t public at all. We were sitting with Pierre Burgauer and a little group of enthusiastic friends of the Jewish Museum Hohenems in the “Schlössli” in St. Gallen. Built in 1586 by Laurenz Zollikofer, a notable of St. Gallen and grandson of a leader of the Protestant reform in the city, the proud mansion today hosts a cosy restaurant. But we didn’t come for the food (even if the canapés served after our meeting were great. Thanks Pierre!).

The Schloessli in St. Gallen
The Schloessli in St. Gallen

What brought us together was the first session of a newly created foundation that shall support the museum, the initiative of Pierre and his family.

Exactly 140 years ago the Burgauers were the first Jews in St. Gallen who were granted citizenship in 1876. And while we expected serious business, coming together in the “Schlössli” with two well known lawyers and a financial expert, Pierre – with his wonderful humor – welcomed us with a protocol from 1860. On March 15, 1860 to be precise the council of the city of St. Gallen formally accepted the application of merchant Adolf Burgauer from Hohenems, his great-grandfather, to obtain the right to live in a private house and to have a stock of goods there for his trade. The positive decision was spiced with a few cautious remarks: Adolf Burgauer was informed not to host other Jews in his house and to be aware that this concession could be removed at any time and without conditions. A dry beginning of a great story. And a poignant beginning of a great evening. We hope we can report on this foundation soon. Our meeting at least was spiced with humor and heartfelt appreciation.

Adolf Burgauer (1837-1904)
Adolf Burgauer (1837-1904)

For today its time to look back into the Burgauer story. And you can find more about it in the newsletter of the American Friends of the Jewish Museum Hohenems and on the website of the Museum. But first let’s have a closer look on what has driven the Burgauer family history.

The Burgauer family first appeared in Hohenems in 1741, when Judith Burgauer, a young widow of twenty one and mother, grown up in the Burgau region near Augsburg, settled in Hohenems to marry for a second time. Jonathan Maier Uffenheimer from Innsbruck was a wealthy merchant and gave her a chance to begin a new life. And to have many more children. At least one child died young and there might have been more. A common fate at that time. But the others were better off. Their son Abraham married 15 year old Sara Brettauer from Hohenems and moved to Venice. Another daughter, Brendel, married Sara’s brother, Herz Lämle, later the patriarch of the Brettauer family and founder of the first banking business in Vorarlberg. Their daughters, Klara and Rebeka also married into successful families, the Viennese Wertheimstein and the Frankfurt Wetzlar family. Another daughter, Judith, married Nathan Elias, the head of the Hohenems community around 1800. This was a successful marriage policy and rather typical for a Jewish family at the upper end of the social hierarchy of the community. However, most of the Jewish families in that era had a hard time instead finding marriage partners and places for their children to settle and to make a living against all odds.

Of interest is what happened to Benjamin, Judith’s first son from Burgau. The sources as to when he definitely settled in Hohenems as well are scarce. Aron Tänzer mentions the year 1773, so it is possible that he grew up with relatives in the vicinity of Augsburg. In any case, sometime before 1772 already Benjamin Burgauer married Jeanette Moos, the daughter of Maier Moos, who for more then 20 years had served as head and representative of the Hohenems Jewish community. These were critical times; the family of the imperial counts of Hohenems died out and the countship fell back into the control of the Hapsburg Empire. Under difficult circumstances, new letters of protection needed to be settled. The Empress Maria-Theresa was known for her blatant anti-Jewish sentiments.

Even though Benjamin’s father–in-law successfully secured the future of the community and even though the dream of building a proudly visible synagogue took place while he was head of the kehillah, the community still had to survive restrictions and hardships. In the year of Maier Moos’ death, a great fire destroyed both half the Christian’s lane and the Jew’s lane. While the Jews were required to contribute financially to the reconstruction of the Christian quarter, support in the other direction was scarce. And the restrictions on settlement and marriage imposed on the Jewish communities, limiting the continuation of a family in Hohenems to one (and mostly the eldest) son and his offspring, continued until the middle of the 19th century. These restrictions forced the vast majority of children to emigrate, if they wanted to marry and create a family.

Two of Benjamin’s daughters, Esther and Brendel, found husbands in Lengnau in Switzerland. Brendel married Baruch Guggenheim,on e of the many Burgauer-Guggenheim connections that were to come. His son Benjamin Maier stayed in Hohenems, but three of his other children started business in St. Gallen and moved their families to the vibrant hub of textile production. Two other children emigrated in the 1840s and 1850s to the United States of America, particularly to Philadelphia, as did so many other of their fellow Hohenemsers. Family members of subsequent generations continued this migration, even from St. Gallen. And in South America, too, there is a Burgauer line today.

The Burgauer company in St. Gallen at its best.
The Burgauer company in St. Gallen at its best.

Thanks to Stefan Weis’ study „Entirely Unbeknown to His Homeland- The Burgauers. History and Migrations of a Jewish Family from the mid-18th until the mid-20th Century“, written as a diploma thesis in 2013, today we know much more about the origins, migrations, and diversity of the Burgauer family. With a generous grant from the American Friends Jewish Museum Hohenems – made possible by the efforts of the Leland Foundation, supported by Jacqueline Burgauer-Leland and Marc Leland – we were able to produce an English translation of Stefan Weis’ book. Have a look on the chapter on the Burgauers in the Americas in the Newsletter of the American Friends ( or go for the whole book on our website ( Enjoy.