Art whistling originated in the 19th century in the Austrian upper class. Art whistlers are people who can whistle to the most complex melody possible in different pitches without any technical aids. They were very popular in the time of the Schrammel brothers in the 19th century and performed in Viennese variety shows, cabarets and public stages. The best-known art whistler in Vienna was Johann Tranquillini (1855-1895), known as Baron Jean. His repertoire included operetta arias and concert waltzes, which he decorated with elaborate trills and whistling coloraturas. In Germany, these interpretations of classical music, which were even performed at the court of the Austrian Emperor, were trivialized as a form of expression of cheerful light music.
The fine art of whistling was therefore gradually forgotten. Austria's last professional whistler was Jeanette Baroness Lips von Lipstrill (1924-2005). Nikolaus Habjan revived the tradition of art whistling and is now considered one of the best whistlers in the world. In 2018, he was the first art whistler to perform in Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie, and he has also appeared on numerous other major stages such as the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Bregenz Festival or the Zurich Opera, recently even with symphony orchestra accompaniment.
For his Musikverein debut he will be accompanied by the Philharmonia Schrammeln in the tradition of Baron Jean himself, which promises a virtuoso and authentic evening.
You can get a first impression of this truly fine art in his teaser video below. We wish Nikolaus all the best for his special debut at the prestigious Vienna Musikverein!