Activist, composer, and actor Hubert Achleitner (better known as Hubert von Goisern) was best known for hits like "Heast as Nit," "Koa Hiatamadl," and "Weit, Weit Weg" during his stint as lead singer of Die Alpinkatzen. Von Goisern was born and raised in Austria, where he learned to play the guitar, trumpet, and accordion at a young age. He lived in South Africa and Toronto for many years before returning to his homeland in his late twenties in order to pursue a music career, forming Die Alpinkatzen with Wolfgang Staribacher in 1986. Honing a blend of synthy Europop with traditional Austrian folk music elements (yodeling chief among them), the group became immensely popular in Germany and Austria. Their second album, 1992's Aufgeigen Stått Niederschiassen', launched the group into the mainstream, and would prove to be Die Alpinkatzen's most enduring work. The group released one more album, Omunduntn, before calling it quits in late 1994.
Von Goisern busied himself with various projects, musical and otherwise, over the course of the following decade. He made his acting debut the year the band broke up, starring in the made-for-TV movie Holleisengretl. He would go on to work on various films, both onscreen and behind the scenes as a composer. Von Goisern also became deeply involved with activism. Spurred by a budding interest in the Save Tibet foundation, von Goisern traveled to Tibet with activist Tsen Zochbauer in 1995. It signaled the beginning of his lifelong fascination with that country, and he eventually went so far as to bring the Dalai Lama on a special trip to Austria. In addition to his interest in Tibet, von Goisern was also known for speaking out against the Austrian music industry.
In the midst of all this, von Goisern continued to record and release albums. His first solo effort, Fön, came out in 2000; the album did well on the charts, and von Goisern found himself once again performing for sold-out audiences throughout Central Europe. A traditional Austrian folk album, Trad, followed soon after, and von Goisern won an Amadeus Award for it in 2001. Trad II emerged two years later, and von Goisern spent the next few years devoting his energy to touring and activism. ~ Margaret Reges