Passed away: 18 June 1999
This obituary has been written by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association who came to know Dr Majer well during the many years she was the USA delegate and he was President of the CIA, at the Coupe Mondiale competitions and also other festivals.
Dr. Karl Albrecht Majer presided over the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes for several decades, up until December of 1981, when he resigned to pursue other activities in his years of retirement. He was a tall and stately man, an imposing figure who imparted great dignity and prestige to the organization he headed, as well as to the instrument which it represented throughout the world.
Dr. Majer's leadership was enhanced by the attributes of a keen intellectual mind, regal bearing and old world graciousness, which bespoke the charm of a gentleman born in the early 1900s. His introduction to the accordion fraternity combined his profession, the practice of law, with his dedication to the advancement of the instrument, originated through his many years as legal adviser to the venerable M. Hohner accordion firm in Trossingen, Germany. This association brought Dr. Majer to the presidency of the Austria's accordion organization (HVO) as well as the prominent world confederation of accordionists (CIA).
He was multi-lingual, a great attribute which endeared him to Coupe Mondiale audiences in many countries where his speeches were in their own language. He also had a great command of English, the official language of the Confederation, and frequently took the time to translate to non-English-speaking delegates from various member nations. As a delegate from the United States for the past 25 years, I attended the Summer and Winter Congresses over which Dr. Majer presided and we developed a great mutual respect and friendship. His even-handed dealings, his ethics and his receptivity to new concepts were all impressive characteristics.
He was steadfast in his conviction that all members of the accordion community should be respected for their accomplishments, at a time when "systems" battles were rampant and personal views of some, precluded the possibility that any differing musical direction might also have credibility . During some years of his tenure, the iron curtain kept the Russian players out of the world arena and when they began to enter, they were always accompanied by authoritative figures who kept them separate from the other delegates and candidates. Dr. Majer nurtured these relationships for years until tensions eased and the eastern delegates and contestants grew more comfortable with the others in the world organization.
In March of 1979, the Winter Congress was held in Dr. Majer's home city of Vienna where "Gemuetlichkeit" is a way of life. Following the Congress, he invited the delegates to an authentic "Heurigen" evening in Grinzing (a traditional evening of wine, food and music in a suburb of Vienna) hosted by the Austrian accordionists, the HVO. It was a great evening of drink, song and the warm camaraderie of an accordion fraternity headed by Dr. Majer.
Dr. Majer was impressed with the development of the accordion throughout the world. In Germany, as well as other parts of Europe, it achieved broad popularity after many years of public appreciation. In the newer countries of North America and Australasia the accordion was little known in music circles. "Considering that the accordion was introduced in the United States sometime around 1919, the development of the accordion movement in your country is very impressive," he told me. "Credit must be given to your organizations and the teachers, players, members and friends in your country. Without these organizations, the progress in technical perfection and the encouragement of new literature would not have attained present status."
His vision for the Confederation is as appropriate today as it was when Dr. Majer addressed a Coupe Mondiale audience 20 years ago saying "The functions of the Confederation are not limited to competitions, advancement of accordion teaching, development of a common syllabus and encouraging accordion composition; we also strive to gain the enthusiasm of young people."
Dr. Majer was a great force for achievement within the accordion world. His contributions were numerous as he encouraged greater accordion music appreciation and warm friendships for those pursuing this music as an inspirational part of their personal and cultural development.
Faithe Deffner, New York, August 12, 1999
This obituary has been written by well known New Zealand lawyer Gerald Ryan who was the Protocolist for the 1980 Coupe Mondiale held in Auckland, New Zealand at which time Dr Majer was the President of the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes. Gerald Ryan was made a Life Member of the New Zealand Accordion Association in 1991 for his considerable services to the accordion. From their first meetings in New Zealand, Dr Majer and Gerald Ryan became lifelong friends.
The death recently of Dr Karl Majer, a leading European patent attorney and a past president of the World Accordion body (Confederation Internationale des Accordeoniss - IMC - UNESCO) came as a shock.
Dr Majer was an intellectual giant but a very unassuming person, who was legal advisor for the Hohner company and was a great friend of the Jones family in New Zealand. He was related to the old Austro-Hungarian royal family. He as President of the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes, played a great part (along with the enormous role played by the late Allan Jones) in having the World Accordion Championships, the Coupe Mondiale, held in New Zealand. At times he had to be a Solomon in dealing with the various conflicting interests, not only in New Zealand but in the world accordion scene as well.
He appreciated very much the Maori (native New Zealand people) canoe presented to him on his visit to New Zealand when he accepted the traditional Maori challenge in the Auckland Town Hall in the presence of the New Zealand Prime Minister, the right Honorable Robert Muldoon. Unfortunately his much loved wife Eva, who accompanied him on his New Zealand trip, passed away shortly after. Because of the happy times they shared together in New Zealand, he could not bring himself to return after her death, although he liked to recall his happy experiences here.
He informed the writer, that just being in New Zealand would remind him of the very happy times they had together and the many kindnesses shown to them by everyone they met, which would make his loss unbearably fresh again.
Dr Majer had a very interesting war record as a Lufftwaffe Colonel. He was responsible for flying into besieged Budapest and rescuing the German Ambassador to Hungary. Interestingly, the Ambassador some years later migrated to Australia, where Dr Majer and his wife visited him on his journey to New Zealand. This was an important occasion for Dr Majer as it was his first reunion with the Ambassador since the war.
During my visits to Europe, I would stop and call on Dr Karl at his home in Vienna. He was always hospitable, he always asked after the Jones family, the Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra, the New Zealand Accordion Association and reminincenced about the wonderful times spent here.
Although he had suffered privations as a prisoner of war, he was an extremely fit and active climber and frequently travelled to interesting parts of the world until his death on 18 June 1999. He went bear hunting to Canada, climbing and canoeing in Alaska, climbing in India, Italy, Switzerland, just to name a few. One of his mountaineering companions was George Bolt, New Zealand Ambassador to Austria.
Dr Majer in his lifetime was the recipient of many honours, amongst them;
em. Prior, Knight Commander of Justice Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem
em. Vizeprasident des Revisionssenates der Evangelischen Kirche A. u. H. B. in Osterreich
The accordion world is poorer for the passing away of Dr Majer. As our Maori bretheren would say, a mighty Kauri (very large, tall, strong New Zealand native tree) has fallen, and we will probably not see his like again.
Gerald Ryan, Auckland, New Zealand, 8 August 1999.
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