Ernst Höllerhagen

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Ernst "Ernie" Höllerhagen (born October 5, 1912 in Barmen ; † July 11, 1956 in Interlaken , Switzerland) was a German jazz clarinet and saxophonist. He also played the violin and the accordion.

Live and act

As a 13-year-old, Höllerhagen accompanied silent films as a violinist with a cinema orchestra and was considered a musical child prodigy . After training as a clarinetist at the Cologne Conservatory in 1929, Höllerhagen played in dance orchestras: 1930 with Max Tichauer, Hagen, and Sam Wooding , 1931 with Bruno Miller, Hamburg, 1932 with Jacques Alban . In the same year, at the age of twenty, he was chosen as the best saxophonist in Germany and criticized by critics as the European Benny Goodman . He then played z. Sometimes with Dutch bands like Melle Weersma, Juan Llossas, Jack Hylton , Marek Weber and John Ouwerx . Later he was a soloist with the "extended" Golden Seven , with Kurt Hohenberger and Teddy Stauffer (from 1939). He followed the Second World War from exile in Switzerland, where he temporarily had his own band with the rhythm section of Teddy Stauffer's former orchestra: Buddy Bertinat (piano), Gene Favre (bass) and Polly Guggisberg (drums). There he met Hazy Osterwald , in whose dance orchestra he played from 1947 until his surprising, self-chosen death.

At a concert in Copenhagen Benny Goodman (Höllerhagen's musical role model) was impressed by the virtuoso clarinet playing of his European colleague. In 1949, Höllerhagen performed with Hazy Osterwald's jazz sextet, which he founded in the same year, at the first international jazz festival in Paris, where he also met Charlie Parker . He also made recordings with saxophonist Willie Lewis (in whose band he played in Switzerland during the war) and with Coleman Hawkins . Höllerhagen described his meeting with Hawkins in Switzerland in 1936 as his most important musical encounter. Important jazz recordings by Höllerhagen and his band are on the CD Ernst Höllerhagen: Recordings 1942–1948 by the Swiss record company Elite-Special. In total, he recorded more than 550 titles.

Although popular for his outward-looking cheerfulness, he suffered from depression and had drinking problems. His wife left him and went to the United States with their daughter. In addition, there were health problems (a heart attack and an inflammation of the nerves) in 1956, which made his future as a musician appear questionable. In 1956 he put an end to his life in Interlaken; he hanged himself.


  • Heiner Bontrup & E. Dieter Fränzel : The Ernst Höllerhagen story: a jazz musician between National Socialism and the economic miracle; with discography 1934–1955; Rediscovery of a swing legend , Wuppertal: NordPark, 2011, ISBN 978-3-935421-42-3
  • Heiner Bontrup: Ernst Höllerhagen story . In: E. Dieter Fränzel / Rainer Widmann (eds.): Sounds Like Whoopataal. Wuppertal in the world of jazz. Essen 2006, pp. 30–52. ISBN 3-89861-466-2

Individual evidence

  1. Hazy Osterwald reports that at a party he ignored the other guests for an hour and listened to the band
  2. Liner Notes to "Teddy Stauffer's Original Teddies", Elite Special
  3. with Höllerhagen's biography by Dolph Stöcklin
  4. Höllerhagen in a letter to his sister, [1]