Baenkelsaenger ("bench singers"), minstrels of a low social class who performed instrumental music (e.g. dance music in taverns) as well as historic or topical songs with an educational content. Especially popular were heroic songs and street ballads, which usually dealt with recent crimes or other outrages. The most common instruments were the violin and the harp, but old instruments long obsolete in art music were also used, such as the bagpipe (as in the popular song Lieber Augustin) and the hurdy-gurdy. The music was sold either in merchants´ shops or by female street vendors, the so-called "Fratschlerinnen". Among the many composers of the Baenkelsaenger songs were schoolmasters, sacristans, craftsmen and innkeepers, and only some of them are known by name. They were despised by the town and state authorities, because they were vagrants and also because they were able to attract and influence the crowds. However, the authorities were not able to discipline them, not even during the Vormaerz (period from 1815 to the March Revolution of 1848). In Vienna in the second half of the 19th century the role of Baenkelsaenger was largely taken over by the singers of Viennese popular songs (Wienerlied) and the folk singers. The Baenkelsaenger street music saw a last upswing in the period between the two World Wars. P>
Literature#G. Gugitz, Lieder der Strasse, 1954.