Konrad Ragossnig 2: the story behind the minilied
I met Konrad Ragossnig in 2004 in Camogli, where I had been invited to be in the jury of the Ruggero Chiesa competition. I knew of course who he was, and thought him one of the great underrated stars of the guitar, maybe because he had mostly stayed within the German-speaking countries. I knew he was a close friend of Bream, one of my idols - that was all.
I discovered that Konrad was a perfect example of the old-school Vienna gentleman, full of humor and jokes. An old and charming fox. It helped that he loved my recording of the Ginastera sonata - he told me he had heard it and said "Who the hell is this? The technique of Elliot and the musicality of Julian. I have been searching in vain to see who in the jury has this vergeisterte Antlitz." It was said in German, and I could follow most of it, but the last two words defeated me - I blushed all the same, but with Francesco Biraghi, also a member of the jury and also a learner of German (it is a lifetime task) we figured it out. Of course Konrad, old fox that he was, knew perfectly which one it was in the jury that he meant and was just pulling my leg.
At some point, we started mentioning tongue-breakers in different languages (I am sure it must have been Francesco who started this). Konrad brought up "Nie mähnt Äbte Häu, Gras mähnt Äbte" which sounded extremely enigmatic to us until he explained it. After the competition ended, I sent him the minilied on that text, and he made several observations, all in the same spirit of fun - I had to answer "Austria 4, Uruguay 0".
I tried to bring him to the Encuentros Internacionals de Guitarra in Bogotá, but he had booked a vacation in Hawaii and, who could argue with that. So I never saw him again.
With Francesco Biraghi, we had adopted meanwhile the minilied as a password. Whenever we met, one would sing the first phrase and the other would answer with the second. It was of course absurd, but then, what is life but absurdity, and the most absurd way of living is not enjoying it. A mistake which Konrad certainly never commited.