Ring My Chimes – An American Glockenspiel

If you have visited the main tourist attractions in Germany, you have probably found yourself at the foot of the famous Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel. Standing since 1907, I may recount it’s significance in a later post.

Today, I want to introduce you to a more recent Glockenspiel in New Ulm, Minnesota. We visited this small German town with my family many years ago. New Ulm was settled primarily by the Germans in 1854. In order to celebrate their German heritage, the town commissioned a Glockenspiel as an homage to their heritage.  And in 1980, they erected the much more modern design than the Munich predecessor for their town.

Guide to New Ulm Minnesota

The twelve animated characters that rotate below the clock include a distinctly American flare with an addition of a Native American and an early family of immigrants from the area. The 1980 Glockenspiel planners honored the roots of the land besides the roots of their fatherland. During the holiday season, the three stationary polka players are replaced with a nativity scene, Thanksgiving to January.

A glockenspiel is the German compound word for “bells” and “play. As an instrument, it is similar to an xylophone. They are often seen in marching bands. The act of the mallet striking the metal bars creates the melodic sound for the instrument in the same way a mallet striking bells do for the glockenspiel clocks.  This is why a variety of bell sizes are needed to create the chiming songs. The New Ulm clock has 37 bells whereas the Munich one has 45. You can listen to a brief documentary and a sample of the chimes here. Glockenspiel, New Ulm, Minnesota


While you are in New Ulm, you may wish to visit Hermann the German during the Hermannfest, Sept 11, 2021. The monument honoring this 9 AD German warrior who led local tribes to defeat three Roman legions, stands 102 feet high over an impressive five colonnade base. If it were not for his efforts, German would be a Latinized language like Spanish and French. If you’d like a brief history of his accomplishments, watch this short video. Hermann Monument in New Ulm found through Hermann Monument Society – New Ulm.  The monument is patterned after one in Detmold, Germany. The Hermann Fest activities begin at 11:30 and the music plays into the night which is capped off with a fireworks display. If I lived closer, I would be there.

Hermann Monument | New Ulm Chamber & CVB
Hermann Monument, New Ulm

As I was researching for this blog post, I discovered that there is a Netflix series now following Hermann’s exploits you may be interested in as well. Hermann’s story being told in Netflix series | News, Sports, Jobs I haven’t seen it so I do not know if it is worth endorsing. Maybe you can leave a comment about it.

3 thoughts on “Ring My Chimes – An American Glockenspiel

  1. Loved the New Ulm glockenspiel chimes! Our favorite sights in Europe when I traveled there as a teenager, were the amazing clock towers and all that “entertainment.”

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  2. Glockenspiels are cool. Very dainty in sound. The first thing that jumped to my mind when I saw the word Glockenspiel was Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. Ha, ha.

    On Mon, Aug 23, 2021 at 2:14 PM German American Schatz wrote:

    > terrilbentley posted: ” If you have visited the main tourist attractions > in Germany, you have probably found yourself at the foot of the famous > Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel. Standing since 1907, I may recount it’s > significance in a later post. Rathaus Glockenspiel, MunichSte” >

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    1. I don’t know if I was around when dad told you or not about that. I remember you saying it so maybe you repeated it after he told you that. I can imagine you wanting to have kids to play with since we had such a busy household normally.

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