Norway’s Hardanger fiddlers

Colorized archival photographs offer a unique glimpse of Norway’s national instrument

Kristiane Lund

Kristiane Lund, Bø i Telemark

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 (, 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

Knut Dale

Knut Dahle, from Tinn, Telemark

Ulrik Jensestugun

Ulrik Jensestogun, Aurdal i Valdres, Oppland

Torbjørg Aas Gravalid

Torbjørg Aas Gravalid, Kviteseid, Telemark

Signe Flatin

Signe Flatin Neset, Seljord-Ramberg, Telemark

Ola Dekko

Ola Dekko, Ål i Hallingdal

Iva Ringestad

Ivar Ringestad, Slidre i Valdres,Oppland

Gjermund Haugen

Gjermund Haugen, Heddal i Notodden, Telemark

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Andy Meyer

Andy Meyer is a literature and language teacher with over 15 years of experience in colleges, universities, and independent high schools. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington and teaches Norwegian there. In 2015-2016, he was a Fulbright Roving Scholar in Norway.