Rauschendorfer was born on June 27, 1959 to Erwin and Annemarie
Rauschendorfer of Rochester, Michigan.
Erwin has a brother Karl and sister Ingrid. He grew up on Longview in
Detroit until 1970 when his parents built a house and moved to Rochester.
Erwin wanted to play the accordion. An accordion was the cost of a year’s
salary at the time, but his parents bought him one anyway. His parents
indulged him by letting him participate in many accordion competitions.
This took them to many places throughout the U.S. He attended Adams High
School and played the bass drum in marching band. He attended G.T.E.V.
“Edelweiss” events with his parents and his great aunt and uncle Caroline
and Zeno Schaefer. He spent many an hour at these events watching Herb
Langegger play button accordion. Erwin joined the club in 1979 and became
the accordionist for the Plattlergruppe. In 1980, on a trip to Germany, he
tracked down the factory that made button boxes in the Bavarian town of
Freilassing. The owner took a shine to Erwin and gave him a tour of the
factory. Upon leaving, Erwin had managed to win the owner’s heart so that
his name was moved up on the waiting list. He would be able to pick his
brand new instrument up when he left in two weeks. He had no clue as to
how he was going to pay for this new acquisition. Oma in Bavaria took care
of this first problem just fine! The second problem was how to get said
button box back to America. When he boarded the plane, the box would not fit
under the seat or in the overhead bin. The stewardess said the box had to
be checked. He put up such a fuss that the pilot came out and asked what
was going on (before the days of TSA obviously). The box flew home behind
the pilot’s seat!
His love of the accordion would lead to forming a band called “the Echos”
with George Schleis, Eric Schulz and Rob Schwalbe. In 1983, Erwin and Rob
Schwalbe formed “Music by Festival” with Babe Murmyluk and Martin Kramer.
The band produced one record in 1984 called “Am Wendelstein”. Erwin played
with “Die Rheinlanders” on a regular basis after Big Frank’s death. Erwin’s
natural musical talent and versatility made him a much sought after
substitute for many Detroit area musicians over the years. He has a strong
conviction for preservation so he has also recorded and produced other CDs
to document the talents of other musicians. Erwin has earned the
designation of Thespian Sponsor from his community service to Eisenhower
High School for being Sound and Video Master and producing the last six
spring musicals. He became president of G.T.E.V. “Edelweiss” in 1999.
Erwin retains this post to the present day, making him the second longest
serving president in the club’s 80 year history! Erwin devotes a large part
of his time to one of his greatest passions: the preservation and promotion
of authentic Bavarian-Alpine folk music. Collaboration with Rick Michels
produced a children’s Christmas CD in 1999 called “Kloanes Kindl, Grosser
Gott”. This CD emphasized the musical talent of the children of G.T.E.V.
“Edelweiss.” They continued to mature musically, due in large part to
“Uncle” Erwin’s sound advice and encouragement. He has been known to lend
his instruments or even pick up a new one to allow the kids to showcase
their talent, all the while taking a “musical back seat” himself. He does
love to collect instruments, though! Erwin’s musical aptitude is reflected
in his ability to play the following list of instruments: piano accordion,
button box, upright string bass, various forms of the tuba, baritone, French
horn, Hackbrett, bass drum, guitar, piano, Okarina, and keyboard. He also
owns at least one version of most of these instruments! He co-founded a
Tanzlmusi, or dance band, within “Edelweiss” for the express purpose of
fostering authentic alpine dance music. Erwin has been married to Barb for
the past 25 years. Their marriage produced a daughter, Caroline who
recently graduated from Michigan State University. Erwin has worked at
Wayne State University for the past 25 years and is currently the Chief
Information Officer for Wayne State University School of Medicine and
University Physicians Group.
Erwin would probably rather remain the silent man in the rhythm section
behind the “Edelweiss” singers and musicians, providing the sound and
technical assistance necessary to promote the Bavarian traditions he
treasures so dearly. His friends and family, however, are convinced it’s
precisely because of his devotion to the Bavarian-Alpine folk music that
Erwin Rauschendorfer is most deserving of this state’s highest honor!