Artur Beul: Celebrated Swiss-German composer and lyricist who wrote more than 2,000 songs

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The Independent Online

The Swiss songwriter Artur Beul was prolific by anybody's standard with around 2,000 songs to his credit. He wrote primarily in vernacular Swiss-German, but also had the knack of penning lyrics close enough to Swiss High German for them to gain wider currency. Beul had the gift of simplicity in his lyrics and, unusually, wrote both lyrics and melodies.

He took up a teaching post in 1940 and began composing songs in his spare time. His songs were recorded by many popular Swiss acts, and then Fate dealt him a kind hand. The way he told the story, he met some American soldiers on leave, leading to the song "Wie gohts Mister Yankee im Switzerland?" ("How's it going, Mr Yankee in Switzerland?"). Then, supposedly, a GI took home a record on the B-side of which was Beul's "Nach em Räge schint d'Sunne" ("After the rain the sun shines"). It became a calling-card and in its Standard German variant – "Nach Regen scheint Sonne" – the title of his 1994 autobiography. "One day," he wrote, "an enquiry came to my publisher from America if they could bring out this song in the USA, with English lyrics. Very soon I heard my song on the radio, sung by the famous three Andrews Sisters." He identified this song as "When A Swiss Boy Goes Calling To A Swiss Miss In June" but he may have conflated events, for it was his and Vaughn Horton's "Toolie Oolie Doolie (the Yodel Polka)" that the Andrew Sisters took into the US Top Five in 1947.

One of Beul's major collaborations was with the German singer Lale Andersen, the first to have recorded "Lili Marleen", in 1939. She was subsequently declared "morbid and depressing", like the song, her career blacklisted. She resumed her public singing in 1948 when she went into Decca's studio in Zurich where she met Beul. It led to friendship, collaboration and, in 1949, marriage. He composed some 20 songs for her including "He, hast du Feuer, Seemann?" ("Hey, Have You Got A Light, Sailor?") and "Lieselott aus Bremerhaven" ("Lieselott From Bremerhaven"), a nod towards Andersen's birthplace in Bremerhaven.

After her death in 1972, Beul retired to France and sold landscapes and harbour scenes to Cannes tourists. Ten years later, he returned to Switzerland where he met Pat Gysin, his second wife. Both wives predeceased him. He died one of the most feted of Swiss songwriters.

Ken Hunt

Artur Beul: songwriter and painter: born Küsnacht, Switzerland 12 September 1915; married twice; died Einsiedeln, Switzerland 9 January 2010.

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