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Swedish musician Peter Hedlund in Concert at Smithy Tuesday, July 19, 7pm

July 18, 2011

Peter Hedlund

Master nyckelharpa player from Sweden
in concert


July 19 at 7:00PM at Smithy Pioneer Gallery, 55 Pioneer St. Cooperstown, NY

Promoted by Arts On Q

Peter Puma Hedlund is the foremost exponent of the Swedish nyckelharpa in the world today. The nyckelharpa is a traditional Swedish instrument that has been played, in one form or another, for more than 600 years and just barely escaped extinction in the mid-1900s. Interest in the nyckelharpa and its music has exploded all over the world in recent years.

Peter is a composer as well as one of the main forces in the revival of the nyckelharpa and its music. He recently received The Zorn Award, which acknowledges his stature as one of Sweden’s most respected master musicians and his contributions to the resurgence and preservation of the nyckelharpa, the ancient keyed fiddle unique to Sweden. Mentored by the late composer Eric Sahlström, who championed the revival of the nyckelharpa, Peter is also two-time winner of the Nyckelharpa World Championship title. He is a well respected and sought after instructor as well as performing artist on this unusual folk instrument.


Beethovenpolska: – nice intro about Eric Sahlstrom

Svärdsjövisan: – at Common Ground on the Hill 2009 (with story about his grandmother)

Tickets $12.00 for Adults; $9.00 for Seniors/Students; Children 12 and under Free.

Concert Information: Arts On Q: 607-264-2626; Directions: Smithy Pioneer: 607-547-8671

History of the Nyckelharpa

A nyckelharpa literally "key harp" or keyed fiddle, is a traditional Swedish musical instrument. It is related to a hurdy-gurdy, in that wooden pegs are used to change the pitch of its strings. A depiction of two instruments, possibly but not confirmed nyckelharpas, can be found on a relief dating from c1350 in one of the gates to Källunge church in Gotland, Sweden. Early church paintings dating from 1408 to early 1600’s are also found in Italy, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Germany. Also during the 16th and 17th centuries, the ’Schlüsselfidel’, or "nyckelharpa", was known in Germany: the instrument is mentioned in "Theatrum Instrumentorum", a famous work written in 1620 by the German organist Michael Praetorius (1571–1621). The Swedish province of Upland has been a stronghold for nyckelharpa music since the late 16th century, including the 1970s revival which drew on musicians like composer Byss-Calle (1783–1847).

Peter’s mentor, composer and maker of nyckelharpas, Eric Sahlström (1912–1986), helped re-popularize the instrument in the mid 20th century by featuring it in his compositions. In spite of this, the nyckelharpa’s popularity declined until the 1960s roots revival. The ’60s and ’70s saw a resurgence in the popularity of the nyckelharpa including the nyckelharpa in both Early Music and contemporary music offerings. Continued refinement of the instrument also contributed to the increase in popularity, with instrument builders bringing innovation to the bow and body.

Modern chromatic nyckelharpas have three rows of keys for three melody strings and twelve resonating or “sympathetic” strings (one for each step of the chromatic scale).The resonating strings are not bowed directly but resonate with the other strings, giving the instrument an ethereal sound, as if it were being played in a cathedral.

The nyckelharpa has been a prominent part of several revival groups in the later part of the century and in the1990s, the nyckelharpa was recognized as one of the instruments available for study at the folk music department of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

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