The Baranovas

(1946 - 1958)

by Art M. Daane


Baranovas The Baranovas, well-known in all the famous music halls, permanent guests of television and radio. With their simplicity these young Swissmen have played themselves into the hearts of thousands of friends of the mouth-organ.

When listening to these fine players one would think they were real professionals, non is more true, they stayed amateurs from start to finish.

It was in 1946 when Gilbert Monerat, brother of Lucien who played for Minevitch during their post-war tour of Europe, heard harmonica sounds coming from one of the dressing-rooms at the Ice-rink in Basel, Switzerland. When entering the dressing-room the player introduced himself as Max Dingelmann, a chromatic soloist. Gilbert took out his harmonica and started playing harmony. They played some Evergreens and decided to stay together and form a band. They invited other harmonica players from which they chose four to join them.

René Winnewisser came in one evening and said, "I found a name for the group. In todays paper I read about an aeroplane crash that had a famous American Dancer on board, her name is....Baranovas". They all agreed!

Their first performance was in January 1947, in Cerney (Sennheim). The temperature outside was -25 celcius, and inside it was a mere +5. While playing their intro the curtains were raised and they noticed a large fireplace in the middle of the hall with a lot of people around it to keep warm, nobody was taking any notice of them. At first they played in Basel, mostly in the "Mustermesse" and the "Volkshaus", and since then were invited to the largest music halls and theaters all over Europe.

They had two sets of appearances, one before and one after interval. The first was a serious one with Evergreens and classics and the second was a comedy act with lots of gags which are still used today by others. The comedian in the group was Seppli Steffen.

Their records (Alpha records) were well-sought after:

Blues Boogie - Harmonica' s on Parade - Glow worm/Hot Canary - Muskat Ramble - My Fair Lady Medley -- Madison in Mexico - Lady of Spain - Jalousy - Darktown Strutters Ball - BBara Boogie - Cielito Lindo - Ole Quapa - Boulevard Promenade - Twelfth Street Rag - Samba Rhythm - Harmonika Scottisch - Trudeli Polka - Rose d'Amour - Tango Roulette - Winke Winke (with the Schmid sisters) - Erika (with the Schmid sisters) - Pigalle - Tanze mit mir in der Morgen - Mack the Knife - Kiss of Fire - Charleston - Wenn die Elisabeth - Ain't she Sweet - Yes Sir, that's my Baby - Harmonika Polka.

Some of the members that I can re-call are:

Gilbert Monnerat, Seppli Steffen, Heinz Kägi, Max Diggelmann, Franz Riegling, Lucien Monnerat, René Winnewisser, George Bechtel, Sam Neusch, Achilles Buser, Marcel Tschachtli, Richard Frei and Fritz Tschachtli.

Helmond, August 3, 1998.

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