Norway’s Hardanger fiddlers
Colorized archival photographs offer a unique glimpse of Norway’s national instrument
The Norwegian American
The central Norwegian regions of Hallingdal, Valdres, and Telemark have long been known for their rich concentration of folk musicians. With proximity to the Hardanger plateau, this region has a special claim on one of the most “Norwegian” parts of Norway’s cultural inheritance, the Hardanger fiddle.
Not long ago, our team ran across a website, Trollhallingen (trollhallingen.com), administered by an archivist in Norway, Olav Sataslåtten, with a rich trove of written and photographic material from Norway’s deep folk music tradition.
One post contained a collection of historical photographs from the early to mid-1900s that Sataslåtten has colorized as a pilot project. We were stunned by the rugged and alluring aesthetic in the images, and he was kind enough to allow us to reprint them.
The photographs depict some of Norway’s traditional spelemenn and speledamer, either posing or playing, with the bucolic landscape, mountain valleys, and culturescape of Hallingdal, Telemark, and Valdres behind them. The result offers a special glimpse at the faces of an enduring, uniquely Norwegian tradition.
Photos courtesy of Olav Sataslåtten
This article originally appeared in the May 8, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.