Emil Ramsauer, who performed bass violin at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 with Switzerland’s Takasa, has died at the age of 103.
From the age of 10, Emil played in musical groups affiliated with the Salvation Army — the Christian charity group whose members, known as Salvationists, run charity shops, operate shelters and provide disaster and humanitarian relief around the world.
He died just two months shy of his 104th birthday in a retirement home where he was looked after by both staff and his wife.
As his funeral, a fellow Salvationist said: “He had a long, fulfilled and versatile life.”
He was a bit of a Renaissance man within the world of music, playing flugelhorn, baritone and percussion. Emil always put his skills to good use. In his final decades, he regularly performed at retirement homes, bringing positive vibes and joy to the elderly.
At Eurovision 2013, Emil, then 95, became the oldest person ever to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest at the time. He proved that age does not have to limit one’s enthusiasm or zest for life.
He was, in many ways, the star of Takasa’s music video for “You and I”, which sees the group traveling in a small car. At times Emil is in the driver’s seat, at times he’s in the back smiling as his younger bandmates clap and sing and dance. But throughout all of it, his bass violin is seen attached to the back of the vehicle — a symbol of their journey through Eurovision and the centrality of music in their life.
The live performance in Malmö was particularly poignant. Emil, bright-eyed and in awe of the stage, scans left and right, and at times his female bandmate places her hand on his right shoulder. On the final note he forgets to raise his hand in time with the others, but eventually lifts it — adding quirkiness and authenticity to the sweet and touching performance.
The lyrics of their Eurovision entry take on renewed poignancy now that he is gone. As friends and family remember him through his actions and music, they will no doubt feel his spirit and legacy around them.
When the times are getting rough gold and silver turn to dust
People build their barricades out of jealousy and hate
But there’s one thing they could never, never ever separate
Ah, let it hear from near and far
This is how it’s meant to be, we’re together you and me
Ah, nothing can tear us apart
Sailing on a stormy sea, we’re together you and me
Our thoughts are with Emil’s friends in family during this difficult time.