Augustin Lehfuss – Musical History
His birthplace already prophesised his eventual career as a musician, with the Austrian capital of Vienna long considered the benchmark city of musical excellence. In 1963, Augustin’s year of birth, both pop and jazz were still fringe genres and things belonging to musical outsiders. While John Coltrane performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, Miles Davis recorded his legendary album “Seven Steps to Heaven” and Nat King Cole reached an audience of millions, the Austrian music scene was still dominated by Viennese songs, operettas, and, of course, great classical music. Most often heard on one’s home transistor radio were German schlager hits from the likes of Peter Alexander, Fred Bertelsmann and Catarina Valente.
Augustin comes from a culturally diverse family of doctors: his parents were hard-working concert and theatre-goers, who also subscribed to the Vienna State Opera. After buying a Bechstein grand piano, their little five-year-old began playing on it. After the first months of lessons under the watchful eye of the highly regarded Professor Leopold Großmann, Augustin didn’t have the energy or will to practice scales like a machine. Instead, he preferred to learn the hits from the radio by ear. His first attempts at composition stem from this age, preserved in the scribbles of child’s handwriting, never to be made available to the public.
When he ran out of patience with his music school lessons and looked for a new teacher, Augustin found Helmut Henesch, a studied classical pianist who had accompanied many greats of the international jazz scene in West Berlin for a few years. He also had a large record collection. This clever man knew just how to deal with the adolescent, showing him the first jazz standards while managing to keep his interest in classical music alive.
There were many records in his parents’ house, almost exclusively of classical music, but the record player in particular was his father’s domain, and was only to be used by clumsy teenagers under his supervision. One day, a portable LP player lay under the Christmas tree alongside an LP: Louis Armstrong’s “Hot Five” – it quickly became clear to Augustin, he needed a trumpet!
His wish was actually granted and the first scratchy tones from his shiny new ‘King Silver Flair’ began to torment the neighbourhood. It was not enough to transcribe and attempt the wonderful solos of Satchmo, he had to play his own… And when an LP of Glenn Miller expanded his small record collection, the ropes were cut loose. Glenn Miller’s greatest hits, Satchmo’s legendary recordings from the early days of jazz, and the musical ‘The Sound of Music’ were rotated and played around the clock, until the scratching of the vinyl discs drowned out the music. It became apparent that the musical genius’ interest would not only be in playing music, but also in writing music.
After barely passing his high school diploma and then a few ventures into other areas of interest, Augustin passed the entrance examination for the jazz department of the Vienna Conservatory, which he in turn completed with a diploma in music theory and composition. Since then, he has worked diligently as an arranger, composer, songwriter and, of course, as a musician.
Augustin currently lives between Austria, and the capital of Europe, Berlin. Outside of his musical undertakings, he likes to ride through the streets on his Moto Guzzi, cross all kinds of waters with his paddle boat, while maintaining his status as a holder of a 2nd dan in Shotokan Karate.