“Waldfreunde” Mandolin Orchestra (1922)

This photo came from a collector of banjos and musical ephemera in Boston, Massachusetts.  The names of the men in the photo are written on the back, along with the following inscription:

Andenken an den Touristenverein Waldfreunde (Feuerbach) im Jahr 1922

This translates roughly to “Souvenir of the Waldfreunde touring group in the year 1922.”  Waldfreunde means Forest Friends.  Feuerbach is a district of the city of Stuttgart.

Update: when I published this post yesterday, I included a link to a page about the Edelweiß Mandolinenorchester (Waldfreunde before 1924) in Durlach, a district of Karlsruhe.  However, after helpful visitors transcribed the names on the back of the photo (see comments below), I began to research them and found no connection to Durlach or Karlsruhe.  Instead, I found baptismal and marriage records of men with those names at “Evangelische Kirche Feuerbach (OA. Stuttgart).”  Here are the names, as transcribed by Joachim at Bibliothekspostkarten:

Personen v[on] rechts n[ach] links. (Paul Hauch, Paul Epple, Alfred Mauch, Wilh[elm] Mößner, Herb[ert] Grob, Willy u[nd] Alfred (Alfons?) Engelhardt, Erwin Müller, (Mitte sitzend) Paul Laich.

For a large scan of the back, click here.

Waldfreunde Mandolinenorchester (1922) 2


I’ll update the post again if I find out anything more.  For instance, did these men call their ensemble a Mandolinenorchester, like the one in Durlach?  Did the two orchestras know about each other?

Waldfreunde Mandolinenorchester (1922) 3

Waldfreunde Mandolinenorchester (1922) 4

Waldfreunde Mandolinenorchester (1922) 5


Post last updated: July 22, 2019.


35 thoughts on ““Waldfreunde” Mandolin Orchestra (1922)

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  1. I wonder if any of the descendants from the original orchestra are in the current one. I really like the sound of the mandolin. It’s interesting that two are not looking directly into the camera.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Feuerbach is today part of Stuttgart, a city in South-West German https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuttgart-Feuerbach. On the back is written ‘Souvenir from the touristic organization Waldfreunde (Feuerbach)’. The names, unfortunately I can’t read them all, especially not the family names as this is written in the old German writing. from right to left:
    Paul Häns, Paul Epple, ??, Wilhelm …, .. Grob, Walling v.., Engelhardt, Erwin…, (seated), Paul Laich
    The webpage of the 1. Mandolinorchester Edelweiß is http://www.moe-durlach.de/ Durlach is now part of the city of Karlsruhe. So I don’t understand why Feuerbach is mentioned on the photo. Th distance between the 2 cities is about 65 km which, in 1922 was a long distance. Maybe you could contact the orchestra?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much for your help, Greta! I wonder if there was another Waldfreunde group in Feuerbach, and this group wasn’t from Durlach at all. Or maybe the photo was taken in Feuerbach while they were touring. I hope a future visitor to the site will know more. I’ll definitely reach out to the organization in Durlach and see what they think. The names of the men should help. Thank you again! Brad

      Liked by 3 people

  3. This is a wonderful photograph!! Here is my attempt at reading the names: Personen v[on] rechts n[ach] links. (Paul Hauch, Paul Epple, Alfred Mauch, Wilh[elm] Mößner, Herb[ert] Grob, Willy u[nd] Alfred (Alfons?) Engelhardt, Erwin Müller, (Mitte sitzend) Paul Laich.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I’ll see if I can find any information about these men, such as a home address, which would help us to confirm the identity of the group. With social media, it’s sometimes possible to find children or grandchildren. I even did that once in Germany! Photos sometimes have a life of their own, crossing oceans and continents.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve looked up the first four names on Ancestry.com. I found no records connected to Durlach, but men with all those names were baptized or married at Evangelische Kirche Feuerbach. So it seems that this group wasn’t connected to Durlach or Karlsruhe after all.


      1. Hello Brad, there are two places called Feuerbach in Germany, one near Kandern and one which is today part of Stuttgart (the one which Greta DH mentioned in her comment above). Here is a link to a site where a “Paul Laich” is mentioned in connection with (Stuttgart-) Feuerbach: https://www.feuerbach.de/historie/. Maybe you should try and contact the “Bürgerverein Feuerbach”, they seem to do a lot on local history and may be able to give you further information: http://www.bv-feuerbach.de/Verein.html.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, I confused the two Feuerbachs! Now I see that the Evangelische Kirche Feuerbach I linked to is actually in Kandern, so I’ll remove the link. Right name, wrong church! The records on Ancestry say “Evangelische Kirche Feuerbach (OA. Stuttgart).” Thank you for the additional sites and suggestions! We’re getting closer to the truth.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A note on ‘orchestra’ in the name: not so many years ago, I attended a concert by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I had to smile at the group photo on their home page; it looks remarkably like the one you’ve posted here — at least, in its essence. The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the use of orchestra to denote a “group of musicians performing at a concert, opera, etc.” was first recorded in 1720. We associate ‘orchestra’ primarily with the symphony and certain instruments, but if the word’s taken in that more expansive meaning (“a group of musicians”), then a ukulele or mandolin orchestra is perfectly understandable.

    My grandfather played mandolin, and a friend’s husband did, too, but I’ve never heard a group playing, except at various bluegrass jams where people just show up and the sound is entirely dependent on who shows up. I’ll bet they had a good sound, and I’ll bet they had a good deal of fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, if there can be a ukulele orchestra, there can certainly be a mandolin orchestra. I’ve never heard a group of mandolins together, either, but now I want to! This group also had two guitars, which is one reason I’m curious how they referred to themselves, beyond the very general ‘Touristenverein’. Thanks, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Carol! I enjoyed the music, especially the parts that sounded more Eastern European. I was surprised to hear a bass, but it adds a lot. The video is a good introduction, and you can sense the potential of such an unusual orchestra!

      Liked by 1 person

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