Thursday 15 July 1971


The following article is an overview of the career of Austrian pianist, composer, and arranger Hans Hammerschmid. The main source of information is an email exchange with Mr Hammerschmid, conducted by Bas Tukker in the first half of 2010. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Hans Hammerschmid's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2010

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Hans Hammerschmid
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: March 12th, 1930, Vienna (Austria)
Nationality: Austrian

Hans Hammerschmid is one of the conductors in the Eurovision Song Contest who, although having participated on only one occasion, were part of the winning team nevertheless. Hammerschmid produced, arranged, and conducted ‘Merci chérie’, with which Udo Jürgens clinched the victory for Austria in 1966.


Johann ‘Hans’ Hammerschmid (occasionally working under the pseudonym Henry Stuck) studied the piano as well as percussion, composition, and conducting at the Viennese Music Academy; there, he was awarded with the Mozart Prize in 1947. Mainly thanks to this prize, Hammerschmid had the opportunity to work in the Paramount Pictures studios in Los Angeles on the music of a film with Bob Hope (1952). Although most of his subsequent career was spent in West Germany, Hammerschmid occasionally returned to the United States to write and record film music. Much later, in 1984, he was the conductor in a Carnegie Hall concert with Bob Hope and Kamahl. One year after that, he recorded the album ‘In Love’ with American soprano Julia Migenes Johnson.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Hammerschmid mainly worked as a pianist and arranger for many different jazz ensembles in Austria and West Germany. In Vienna, he played in the Johannes Fehring Big Band, where he first teamed up with a young vocalist by the name of Udo Jürgens. Moreover, Hammerschmid was a member of the Hans Koller Quintet as well as of the Südwestfunk-Tanzorchester in Baden-Baden; with this orchestra – at that time led by Eddy Sauter – he performed at the 1958 Jazz Festival in Frankfurt. 

He wrote arrangements for Helmut Zacharias and performed on stage with such international jazz soloists as trumpeter Duško Gojković, saxophonists Stan Getz, Hans Koller, and Zoot Sims, guitarist Attila Zoller, and vocalist Helen Merrill. Later, Hammerschmid was appointed musical leader and conductor of the Entertainment Orchestra of the Saarländische Rundfunk (SR), while he was often invited to conduct other broadcasting orchestras in West Germany.

From the early 1960s onwards, Hammerschmid regularly composed and arranged pop songs. One of the first artists with whom he worked in the recording studio, were The Bambis, an Austrian band which had some hits in both Austria and West Germany in 1964 and 1965. After having produced and arranged Udo Jürgens’ Eurovision winner ‘Merci chérie’ in 1966, Hammerschmid regularly kept performing on stage with Jürgens, while he also co-composed his 1969 success ‘He’s Got The Whole World’. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, Hammerschmid also recorded songs with Esther & Abi Ofarim, Klaus Sommer, Anneliese Rothenberger, and Margot Werner. He also stood at the cradle of disco, producing early attempts at this new genre by Donna Summer and Ian Cussick. With lyricist Miriam Frances, he created the parlando hit ‘Sechzig Jahre – und kein bisschen weise’ for Austrian actor Curd Jürgens in 1975.

During the recording of a TV show in late 1966, Hammerschmid made the acquaintance with German chansonnière and theatre personality Hildegard Knef. This led to a fruitful collaboration between 1967 and 1975, during which he produced and arranged no fewer than seven studio albums for Knef. Many of her songs were composed by Hammerschmid, including ‘Von nun an ging’s bergab’, ‘Ich brauch’ Tapetenwechsel’, and ‘Siebzehn Millimeter fehlten mir zum Glück’. On top of that, he also wrote the music to the remarkably voiced singer’s best-known song, ‘Für mich soll’s rote Rosen regnen’ (1968) – a melody which is still a classic in Germany and beyond. The lyrics to most of these compositions were penned by Knef herself. Many years later, in 1993, Knef and Hammerschmid teamed up once again to write ‘Marlene’, a song dedicated to Marlene Dietrich. Knef played the lead role in the musical in honour of Marlene Dietrich, ‘Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind’.

As a film composer, Hans Hammerschmid made his mark by writing the soundtracks of German cinema successes Die Funkstreife Gottes (1968), ‘Ein Käfer geht aufs Ganze’ (1971), and Die Reise nach Wien (1973). In addition to that, he composed the music to theatre productions, radio plays, and commercials.

From the 1960s onwards, Hammerschmid wrote the scores for television, mostly for West German public broadcaster ZDF. He wrote soundtracks to countless episodes of popular TV detectives, such as Das Kriminalmuseum, Tatort, Derrick, and Der Alte. His best-known composition as a film composer is 'Hallo Dr. B!', the signature melody of the popular ORF/ZDF drama series Die Schwarzwaldklinik, which ran for four seasons (1985-89, 70 episodes) and to which Hammerschmid wrote all music. Moreover, he composed the music to other ZDF drama series, amongst which Hotel Paradies (1990), Insel der Träume (1991), Das Traumschiff (1992-2000), and Flucht ins Paradies (1995). In 2001, he was responsible for the soundtrack to TV film Der Held an meiner Seite.

In 2008, Hammerschmid was honoured at the annual meeting of GEMA for his fifty years of membership of Germany's performance right organisation.


Hammerschmid was a conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest on one occasion. In 1966, he led the Luxembourg orchestra for Udo Jürgens, who represented Austria with ‘Merci chérie’. Hammerschmid wrote the arrangement himself. Jürgens, for whom it was the third Eurovision attempt, won the contest with it. In 1964 and 1965, the Austrian chansonnier had been accompanied by his former band leader Johannes Fehring (entry: ‘Warum, nur Warum?’) and Italian resident conductor Gianni Ferrio (entry: ‘Sag ihr, ich lass’ sie grüssen’) respectively - with both songs having an arrangement penned by Rudi Bauer. What was the reason Hammerschmid was called upon now to conduct ‘Merci chérie’ instead of Fehring?

Hammerschmid comments, “That's a difficult question. In fact, I am really surprised to hear Johannes Fehring conducted Udo Jürgens in a previous Eurovision Song Contest, because he hardly ever wrote arrangements and didn't work in the recording studio very often. However, at that time, he was very popular with ORF, the Austrian public broadcaster, and perhaps that is the reason why he was asked for the job in 1964."

"Whatever may be true of that, it was Udo’s publisher Hans Rudolf Beierlein who asked me to produce and arrange ‘Merci chérie’. It might very well have been the first time I did an arrangement for him. I wrote it after having talked it over with Udo and his lyricist Tommy Hörbiger; working with them was very pleasant. I had known Udo for many years already; for some time, I had been the pianist in Johannes Fehring’s big band, where Jürgens was the lead singer. We hit it off very well, playing rhythm and blues together during the breaks of performances with Fehring. Accompanied by me on the Hammond organ, he sang songs such as ‘Ol’ man river’ – and it was really swinging, I can assure you that!”

Having done the arrangement to 'Merci chérie', Hammerschmid also accompanied Udo Jürgens to the Eurovision Song Contest in Luxembourg to conduct the orchestra for him. 

“Going to Luxembourg was a totally relaxed experience," as Hammerschmid recalls. "The orchestra there was good and we had an excellent rehearsal – so we were well prepared and felt no stress at all. In the hotel, I shared an apartment with Udo, which turned out to be quite practical; there was a never-ending stream of young fans who were hoping to get him to sign his autograph. Remember, he already was an established artist in the German-speaking countries! Of course, I simply sent them away, which allowed Udo to enjoy some rest."

"On the night, there were many entries from other countries which were quite loud. Obviously, our song was exactly the opposite – really quiet – and that proved to be in our advantage. Winning the contest was a very important moment in the careers of both Udo Jürgens and myself. In Luxembourg, we celebrated until dawn. Many conductors from other countries asked me for a lead sheet of ‘Merci chérie’, because they really liked the melody.”

“Many versions of 'Merci chérie' were released in different countries; Udo even recorded a single of it in Japanese with the German version on the flipside. After the contest, I worked with Udo on many more occasions, both in the recording studio and on stage. When we did a concert, we often performed without having done a rehearsal! We have always maintained our friendship – until today.”

The following year, Hammerschmid was commissioned by Hans Rudolf Beierlein to write the arrangement to the entry submitted to the contest by West Germany, 'Anouschka', a composition by Hans Blum. Given that Blum himself also conducted the song at the contest, Hammerschmid himself could have been forgiven for not remembering 'Anouschka' when we asked him about it.

Songwriter Hans Blum later commented, “Yes, I was the conductor, but I wasn’t really that involved in this entry. I gave it a go and submitted a song – and the demo was really good. I can’t say I’m particularly proud of this piece, though; it’s nothing special and doesn’t rank among my best work. It was released on the label which had signed Inge Brück, Ariola; and the publishing rights went to Hans Rudolf Beierlein, who I usually didn’t work with either. (...) I wasn’t nervous about conducting in Eurovision. I had been a studio arranger for over a decade. You don’t need the education of a classical conductor to lead an orchestra for a song written by yourself and without any tempo changes; all you need is the flair to stand up and do it!”

When asked if the question of leaving the conducting job to Hammerschmid ever arose, Blum could not answer the question - simply because he did not remember. Many years later, in 1986, the same situation occurred, when Blum conducted his own composition 'Über die Brücke geh'n', although the arrangement had been done by Rainer Pietsch.

Rainer was a very good musician, so I was happy that he did that part of the job. Still, it was my song and, after we had won the German final, I put my name forward to conduct the orchestra in Eurovision as I had done in the 1960s. Being the composer, I knew exactly what I wanted the orchestra to sound like."

Udo Jürgens celebrating his Eurovision victory in Luxembourg with the winner of the previous edition, France Gall 


So far, we have not gathered comments of other artists about Hans Hammerschmid.


Country – Austria
Song title – "Merci chérie"
Rendition – Udo Jürgens 
Lyrics – Thomas Hörbiger / Udo Jürgens
Composition – Udo Jürgens
Studio arrangement – Hans Hammerschmid
(studio orchestra conducted by Hans Hammerschmid)
Live orchestration – Hans Hammerschmid
Conductor – Hans Hammerschmid
Score – 1st place (31 votes)

Country – West Germany
Song title – "Anouschka"
Rendition – Inge Brück
Lyrics – Hans Blum
Composition – Hans Blum
Studio arrangement – Hans Hammerschmid
Live orchestration – Hans Hammerschmid
Conductor – Hans Blum
Score – 8th place (7 votes)

  • Thanks to Hans Hammerschmid for answering our questions in an email exchange, January-May 2010
  • Thanks to Hans Blum for his additional comments regarding the 1967 West German Eurovision entry
  • Pictures courtesy of Hans Hammerschmid & Ferry van der Zant

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