International Jew’s Harp Society


At the 7th International Jew’s harp Festival in Yakutsk, courtesy by Khomus Centre Yakutsk

Franz Kumpl

Born 7 Sep 1954 in Wels, Austria. My first contact with the jew’s harp was as a child, when a catholic cleric from Molln became priest in the village where I grew up. He became one of the best friends of my father and donated a Maultrommel from Molln to me, which I started playing along with the accordion.

After having visited an artistic High School with a focus on the piano in Linz and starting to study Russian and German philology at Salzburg University, I travelled in 1974-75 in South-East Asia, carrying in a pocket a set of Maultrommel with me. From this time on I have always had a Maultrommel with me; be it in Japan, where I worked at Tokyo Gaidai-University from 1983-86 or in the Soviet-Union, where I taught at Lomonosov-University from 1988-1990.

Over the years I added studies in management, evaluation and social audit to my PhD in German culture and my Masters in German and Russian philology.

Since 1990 I have been working on several levels: teaching at universities (until now Slavic Studies at Vienna University), project development and the implementation for the humanitarian organisation CARE, an organisation of various cultural events between the CIS and Europe.

In 1991, I was with CARE and had an Austrian Maultrommel in my pocket in Yakutsk/Russia, right at the time of the 2nd International Jew’s Harp Festival-Congress. My dream of organizing something similar in Austria came true in 1998 in Molln/Austria, mainly because time was ripe for a Maultrommel-renaissance. During this Festival-Congress, we established the International Jew’s Harp Society, whose President since that year I have the honour to be.

My hobbies involve singing in choirs (e.g. Vienna Complaints Choir) and playing the accordion, percussion and Maultrommel in a rather experimental rock-style with friends in Austria and Russia (e.g. “Matrosskaya Tishina” by Trilistnik with Andrey Romanov and Sasha Lyapin from “Aquarium”, 1989).

My family encompasses my wife Johanna and four children: Anna (*1983), Zhenia (*1990), Arthur (*2010) and Ivo (*2013).


Numerous lectures and speeches at social, educational and cultural national and international events, congresses and symposiums by the EC, UN-organisations or at IJHFs in Austria, Russian Federation, Georgia, Uzbekistan, etc

Selected publications and CDs:

Chodorkowski – Putin, ein Koenigsdrama (= a royal drama)?“, in: program booklet for the opera “Chodorkowski”, by Periklis Liakakis and Kristine Tornquist, sirene Operntheater, Wien 2015

„Mnogomernost‘ khomusa“ (= multidimensionality of the jews harp), p. 323-331, in: “Tvorcheskaya lichnost (Kulakovskogo) v istoriko-kulturnom prostranstve”, Novosibirsk, Nauka, 2013

CD „Free harpin‘. Maultrommelimprovisationen“, ATS-records, 2000

CD-box “international jew’s harp festival molln, austria ‘98”, ats-records, 1999

CD “Khomus. Maultrommel-Improvisationen aus dem sibirischen Sacha-Jakutien”, 1993

Studies on cultural heritage sites and possibilities for tourism development in Saint Petersburg, Novgorod, Moscow, Sochi, Georgia and Uzbekistan, 1989-1993

Various articles on culture, health, education and social reforms in the Soviet Union/Russian Federation for Austrian newspapers and journals; 1988-ongoing

Selected awards:

Medal “Grazhdanskaya Doblest” from E.Borisov, President of Sakha-Yakutia, in 2011

“Team Leader of the Year” in 2004, selected by the EC Delegation in Moscow, Russian Federation

“Honorary Citizen” of Tekhtyur (“Pochetniy Grazhdanin Tekhtyurskogo Naslega”), Sakha-Yakutia, Russian Federation in 2001

“Medal of Humanity” in 1998, by the Government of Upper Austria

Black belt in Aikido, Tokyo, Japan in 1986