The History of the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir

Industrious years: 1955 – 1959

By Wolfgang Wicklein

From 1954 on, the Obernkirchen Childrens’s Choir developed a reputation as one of the world’s best children’s and youth choirs and held this rank for 20 years. Her countless concerts in Germany, the many concert tours within Western Europe, North America and beyond became her trademark.

Spring 1955: Departure with the Cityhopper

In the spring of 1955, the  Obernkirchen Children’s Choir again traveled to England for two weeks through their British agency. In 12 concerts, an enthusiastic audience celebrated its Angles in Pigtails. On this the time was so tight that it was not possible to travel by train and ferry, but rather had to be flown.

Friedrich Wilhelm Möller had meanwhile successfully offered his song “My father was a wanderer” to the Berolina film studios. In the summer, the cinemamovie “The Happy Wanderer” (director: Hans Quest) was produced in Sachrang in the Black Forest, one of the popular homeland films with Rudolf Schock and other well-known actors. The song “Ach, ich hab in meinem Herzen” (“Oh, I have in my heart inside” from the opera “Schwarzer Peter” by Norbert Schultze) has become a long-running hit thanks to this film.

Advertising sheet for the movie "The Happy Wanderer"
Photo: Archives Berolina Film Studios

In the fall of 1955, the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir undertook their second US and Canada tour for three months. Well over 100,000 concertgoers listened to the choir in almost 60 sold out homes. There were also television appearances, e.g. on the Ed Sullivan Show. Above all, Kurt Weinhold, then Vice President of Columbia Artists Management, was now considered a staunch impresario. With him and his wife Liz a wonderful friendship developed into the choir. The tour bore groundbreaking fruits in an extension contract for three further twelve-week concert tours in 1957, 1958 and 1959.

The year 1956 brought a decisive improvement for the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir: With the proceeds from the first two tours and the contractual option of three further trips, Edith Möller and Erna Pielsticker were initially able to purchase the princely villa on Bückeburg’s Georgstraße (street) through the recently founded association Schaumburger Märchensänger e.V. Lease a few months and then buy it.

The longed-for children’s home, which Edith Möller and Erna Pielsticker managed until 1975, was finally set up there. During this time, over 30 children grew up there, and the first were also adopted. The slogan “Children sing for children” accompanying the choir has now become a reality.

The new home of the Obernkirchen Children's Choir

It must be clearly stated: The first generations of the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir have “sung” this choir, including its originally stately 1-hectare garden, as well as the complete renovation and extensive repairs and modernization!

Today the building is home to the Schaumburger Märchensänger e.V. music school, officially renamed “Edith Möller-Haus” by Bückeburg’s mayor Helmut Preul in 1980.

2. USA tour 1955 "The boys":
Above, from left: Karsten, pianist James Benner, Kurt, Jürgen;
below, from right: Bus driver Toni, Wilfried (standing), Willi and Horst;
Dagmar, Karin and Verena look curiously out of the open windows.

In February 1957 the 3rd American tour was due. For the first time, the trip in his own bus with the same, very popular bus driver, Toni, took the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir from “Coast to Coast”: From New York City on the Atlantic, through the northern states to sun-drenched California on the Pacific, back through the southern states along the Gulf of Mexico through the spring blooming Dixie to the Atlantic coast and through the Midwest back up to Chicago. A dream of enthusiasm and success accompanied the choir, so that the tour had to be extended from 12 to 14 weeks.

The Obernkirchen Children's Choir were often guests on the Ed Sullivan Show.

In Germany, too, the demand for the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir had increased from year to year. The calendar was filled to the brim. Only June 1957, after the USA tour, was the year of the “school” for the choir members. A huge number of classes had to be made up for, and a good certificate had to be achieved in order to be allowed to travel on the next American tour.

As always before a large company, the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir retired to a retreat in the summer. This time they went to the Lüneburg Heath for three weeks. Because in addition to fun and games, a new concert program also had to be rehearsed.

Juli 26, 1956: "The Bremen Town Musicians"
Fairy tale opera by Friedrich Wilhelm Möller, are successfully performed.

The 4th American tour began at the end of January 1958. It went along the east coast to the Rocky Mountains, from the south all the way up to Canada. The Obernkirchen Children’s Choir were enthusiastically received and acclaimed at its concerts.

The choir loved its nomadism, from the hotel to the bus. There were intensive school assignments waiting there (they weren’t that popular) until the next town. Receptions, sightseeing and leisure activities were wonderful experiences.
But most of all the singers loved the evening concerts. It was and is simply wonderful to please other people with your own singing and make them happy!

After an eventful 12 weeks that had passed much too quickly, we went home via Paris. In the summer of next year, the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir let off steam for three weeks on Spiekeroog, (a North Sea island) enjoying the beach, the sea and, who can blame them, singing.

During the 1958/59 season there were a total of 100 concerts between Hamburg and Frankfurt / Main. In addition, there was a two-week tour through southern Germany in the fall and a somewhat longer concert tour through Franconia and Baden as far as France in the spring. Pure success – the newspapers were enthusiastic.
And Berlin also called again for its “Fairy Tale Singers”.

Everything is tried out: "They actually sting!"