Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit
The beer-drinking anthem that became an Oktoberfest hit does not come from Bavaria. The famous “Prosit” song was written by a Saxon.
The song became famous at the Oktoberfest and is now heard at home and abroad during the Oktoberfest season: “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” is the beer-drinkers’ anthem par excellence. But the origin of this popular song lies neither in Munich nor in Bavaria, but in Saxony.
Bernhard Traugott Dietrich, who is largely unknown today, wrote the catchy melody and the pithy lines in Chemnitz at the end of the 19th century. Who was the man who composed the song that generations have associated with beer drinking?
Dietrich was born in Chemnitz on 19 August 1840. With his wife Emilie he had six daughters. Bernhard Dietrich may have inherited a certain tendency towards beer-loving conviviality from his father.
Johann Traugott Leberecht Dietrich – initially listed as a master weaver – was, according to later entries in the register, a “restaurateur”, i.e. a pub owner. In the penultimate year of his life, his occupation is listed as beer salesman.
Dietrich Junior earned a living for his extended family as an accountant. For almost 40 years he was employed by Gagstädter & Sohn, a company for weaving products.
The company’s obituary in the Chemnitzer Tageblatt stated that they mourned “the kind-hearted friend and employee” who had earned respect and love with his friendly nature and efficiency.
However, the fact that Dietrich – or rather his popular song – is still on everyone’s lips today is due to his hobby.
In Chemnitz, he made a name for himself as a choir director, singer and composer.
He was a member of the “B.D.” double quartet named after him, he co-founded the Theodor Schneider’schen Männergesangverein and was its conductor for many years.
On 30 October 1902, the choir management paid tribute to their honorary member in the Chemnitzer Tageblatt, saying that he had “rendered outstanding services to the singing society in an unselfish way”. The newspaper advertisement of the double quartet said: “His noble character traits will remain unforgettable to us and in his delicious song gifts his memory will always live on with us.”
Perhaps club meetings or choir rehearsals in the back room of his father’s pub inspired Dietrich to write his “Prosit”.
But how did his “Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” come to Munich?
Georg Lang (1866 – 1904), a landlord from Nuremberg, is credited with establishing the song at the Wiesn.
It is estimated that the “Prosit” is played two to three times an hour by every Oktoberfest band. The song, which is actually dedicated more to the joy of drinking than to the strength of drinking, is the most played song at the Wiesn.