A small village plays big

Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin

Madlaina Janett auf einem Bänkli mit Ausblick auf das Engadiner Dorf Tschlin.
Tschlin. A village of 150 people at the lower end of the Engadin. Beautifully situated on a sunny terrace with impressive views. Famous for its beer brewery and delicious «Bun Tschlin». products. And then there are «Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin», who carry the village name out into Switzerland – or rather play music.
Watch Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin on YouTube.

Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin are a well-known folk music group. They play typical Ländler pieces, but without hand organ or Schwyzerörgeli, only with string and wind instruments, which gives their music a unique sound. They call it the Fränzlisound.

The Janett family from Tschlin

Another special feature is that all the band members are called Janett. This is because the Fränzlis da Tschlin are a pure family band, consisting of two brothers and their daughters.

Familienband «Il Fränzlis da Tschlin».

A two-generation band

Madlaina (left in the picture) plays the viola. Sitting next to her is her father Curdin, bandleader and beat maker on the double bass. Next is Cristina, cellist and Madlaina's younger sister. She is followed by Anna Staschia (violin) and her father Domenic (clarinet). They are sitting in the Chasa Muttler, a venerable Engadine house right on the village square in Tschlin, where Curdin and Domenic grew up.

Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin mit Familie und Freunden.

With the charm of the Lower Engadine

For many years, the Chasa Muttler with its green shutters was a guesthouse and restaurant. The cultural life of the village took place here for generations. Today, the house is a retreat and holiday home for the Janett family, where they can make music, compose and be inspired by the unique charm of the Lower Engadine – or turn Tschlin into a film set.

Tschlin is a place where we like to compose and make music.

Madlaina Janett

Die Fränzlis in Tschlin, wo sie gerne komponieren und musizieren.

For the «Tschlin retour» project, the experimental Fränzlis invited relatives, friends and musical companions to Tschlin to shoot film scenes for their stage show.

How to play «Cinemaphon»

The Fränzlis then stand on stage next to a big screen and play live to the film – more or less to match. The amusing thing is that they can intervene in the film. For example, they can fade people in and out or change the location and scenery at the touch of a button.

Aufnahmen für die Fränzli-Tournee «Tschlin retour»
It is important to us not to have blinkers and to try out new things.

Madlaina Janett

It can also happen that a musician suddenly runs out of the picture to appear on stage in the flesh. In this way, the Fränzlis not only play with their instruments, but also with themselves and the village of Tschlin. And they also incorporate classical and jazz elements into their folk music.

Madlaina Janett in Tschlin.

Offering the public something

«It's important to us not to have blinkers on and to keep trying out new things,» says Madlaina Janett. «Not to start a revolution, but simply because we want to entertain the audience.» The violist has the honourable task of presenting the Fränzlis da Tschlin concerts and is something of a media spokesperson for the family band.

Madlaina Janett im Haus Muttler in Tschlin.

Madlaina grew up in Sulgen in the canton of Thurgau, together with her younger sister Cristina and Niculin, her younger brother. Her father was and is a professional musician, her mother a nursery school teacher and flute teacher. «Music was never something ideological in the family, it was just there,» she says. «There were instruments everywhere and we children were allowed to play around on them. It was fun and completely normal. Music lessons then followed automatically.»

Music was simply there and completely normal for us children.

Madlaina Janett

Madlaina Janett auf einem Bänkli mit Ausblick auf die Engadiner Bergwelt.


Tschlin is Madlaina's second home. She spent her holidays here from an early age, as an extended family with cousins, uncles and aunts, all of whom are musically adept.

Musician, illustrator, tour manager

«I like the lively and original village, the mountain landscape and the Romansh language. When I'm in Tschlin, I speak Romansh with everyone,» says the versatile Madlaina, who now lives in Zurich. She works as a freelance illustrator and as a tour manager for the Swiss Youth Symphony Orchestra. She also rushes from rehearsal to rehearsal and performance to performance as a musician.

Madlaina Janett am Wandern in Tschlin.

Suddenly time for the mountains

«For many years I was constantly travelling and therefore had little time to be in Tschlin and enjoy the beautiful nature. But when corona arrived, I suddenly had free time,» says the musician. «I used this to finally climb some of the mountains above Tschlin. I climbed Piz Malmurainza and Piz Salèt. What a view and tranquillity! Great, but also strenuous and challenging. Because there's no hiking trail up there, even if hunters say otherwise.»

A mountain tour in the Lower Engadine is unforgettably beautiful.

Madlaina Janett

Madlaina Janett spielt Bratsche.

Why not viola

Madlaina plays various instruments and says she is more of an all-rounder than a virtuoso. The piano was her main instrument for a long time. She started playing the viola because she also wanted to play in an orchestra. «My sister and cousin already played the cello and violin, so I thought a viola would complete the whole thing.»

Would you like to see Madlaina Janett and the Fränzlis da Tschlin live? The premiere of «Tschlin retour» is on 13 April 2022 at the Chur Theatre. The Fränzlis will then go on tour and perform in Zuoz on 26 June, in Sils Maria on 4 September, in Samedan on 7 October and in Sent on 6 November.

Madlaina Janett mit ihrer Bratsche.

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The history of the Fränzlis da Tschlin

Alte Formation der «Il Fränzlis da Tschlin».

Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin have existed since 1982 with a changing line-up. Their role model and namesake was the blind violinist Franz-Joseph «Fränzli» Waser (1858 - 1895). He came from Chaflur, not far from Tschlin, and played together with his brothers and companions throughout the Engadin. «Fränzli» Waser must have played the violin so masterfully that he was never forgotten over the years.

Reviving the sound of the Engadin

In the early 1980s, it was Men Steiner from Scuol who had the idea of reviving the «Fränzlisound» for a recording project. He got some musicians together, including the Janett brothers, to record Engadine music from the end of the 19th century – in the old style, with strings and wind instruments only.

Successful throughout German-speaking Switzerland

Although there are no sound recordings of the Ur-Fränzlis, there are many legends and some photographs. Inspiration enough to imagine what their music might have sounded like. It was only intended to be a one-off gathering, but the musicians enjoyed fiddling and drumming in the Fränzli style so much that they started giving concerts. And soon «Ils Fränzlis da Tschlin» were performing successfully throughout German-speaking Switzerland.

How women gained the upper hand

The brothers Curdin and Domenic Janett were there from the very beginning. Madlaina Janett took over the viola position from Flurin Caviezel in 2001. Cellist Cristina Janett replaced cornetist Duri Janett (also a brother and uncle) in 2012. And since Anna Staschia Janett took over the violin part from band founder Men Steiner in 2014, women have made up the majority of the Fränzlis. By the way: the fact that you can replace a cornet with a cello surprised even the Fränzlis, but it still sounds «schmaladi bun».


Text: Franco Furger
Video: OnAir AG
Pictures: Andrea Badrutt, Chur & Kulturarchiv Oberengadin