Experiencing Flow

Willi, 83

Shoemaker and member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Born in a quiet town, yet during loud times - Mariapfarr, 1936.


To seek refuge from the authoritarian upbringing of his nazi step father, he found solace in hard work and music. While hard work provided shelter, music offered love.

Willi started playing guitar, violin and the accordion at a young age. He was mixing concrete by the age of 11 and managed a farm during summer holidays before the age 13. After finishing school at 14, Willi became a shoemaker, simply because there were no shoes that fit his gigantic feet.

Rejected from the University of Music Salzburg at 20, he moved back to Lungau to found the band „Die lustigen Spatzen“. He was not rejected for insufficient skill or talent, that he had enough of. He was denied because he was not willing to give up his day job at the lumber mill for his studies.

At last, Willi was accepted at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna to study slide trombone and later on contrabass. His enthusiasm and outstanding effort earned him a spot in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he toured Japan, USA and Mexico between 1970 and 1980. The time Willi spent away from music was used for building multiple houses around his hometown and a hut in the surrounding mountain side.

Willi is still able to play the score he played at his audition 60 years ago.