2000 Malung, Sweden
This page contains some stories, pictures, etc, from my four month visit to Sweden. This included studies at Malungs Folkhögskola, visiting relatives and other travels. Most of the family related pictures are on the genealogy page.
2000, late summer, fall & early winter – I studied Swedish folk music at Malungs Folkhögskola (Malung, Sweden). It was an intense, amazing, enlightening and very educational experience.
An important source of funding for my trip to Sweden was a grant from the Swedish Council of America. It is an umbrella organization, supporting many groups and activities. I am very appreciative of their grant which helped immensely with expenses. http://www.swedishcouncil.org/ I also received a grant from the Vasa Order of America, local lodge Facklan #248 and some private gifts to help with the expenses.
The school is located in Malung which is in the Dalarna province (landskap) in central Sweden. Dalarna means the dales or valleys which are geological features of this area. Malung is in the southwestern part of Dalarna.
Below are some photos of the school. Two of them show the school covered in 18″ of snow in early January. I arrived and departed from the school on a small train. One of the photos shows the train tracks before I left Malung for the last time. There are also some pictures of my dormatory, the school (not covered in snow), a view out my window and me in my very comfortable room.
Two of the pictures show the old room (gammal rummet). The room was like a time capsule, carefully preserved. Before the school existed, this old building on campus was a residence (probably dating back to the 1700’s but would need to check on that). To get into the room required using a large skeleton key that was hidden in a special spot in the upstairs library. It was a a pleasure to retreat to this beautiful space. One of the pictures shows a corner ‘closet’ door which actually led to another hidden door that allowed one to go out to a sleeping porch. That was an amazing discovery after having visited the room on many occasions.
This particular folk high school offered three outstanding folk music courses. Jonny Soling led a two term course that developed folk musicians on a variety of levels. An in-depth study of violin/fiddle technique, styling, psychological aspects of playing and physical issues are part of what was addressed in his class. Maria Röjås led the two term folk singing class. Kalle Almlöf led the one term course in Swedish folk fiddling. In this course we learned violin/fiddle technique, stylistic tools, a variety of dance tune genres, etc. In addition to the music, we had three intense days of folk dance training and a once a week folk dance session.
The first picture below is of me and my instructor, Kalle Almlöf. The next photo shows a typical Thursday evening dance in the Kaffe Stuga at our school. Students would practice playing for a dance and practice dancing. The third photo shows a typical dance party held in the room where our fiddle class met. The forth photo shows our class at the ‘end of the term’ party at Kalle’s house.
As the fall season progressed towards the winter solstice, the amount of daylight shrank. The sun wasn’t up until 8:30 or 9:00 and it was dark by 3:00. The lack of sunlight was also compounded by a thick cloud layer that persisted for a five week period of time. During that five weeks, the sun was only seen 5 or 6 times. Here is a picture illustrating how high the sun rose. The second photo, taken at the same time, shows some birch trees reflecting in a glass-smooth pond.
I greatly enjoyed hiking around the woods, hunting for blueberries and inspecting the various wild plants. Here are a few pictures showing some of the wild plants and landscapes.
Not too far from the school was the local Hembygdsgård or open air museum park with a collection of old buildings that were characteristic of the area. I really enjoyed looking at these fine old buildings. The one in the picture below has a sod roof. Many of the older buildings had sod roofs. Today most of the roofs on houses are metal or tile.
I traveled to Småland (a province in southern Sweden) to track down some family farms and was delighted to meet some distant relatives. See the Genealogy Page for more information and photos. I also met Magnus Gustafsson, who gave me a wonderful introduction to the fiddle tunes in Småland and specifically, the area of Värend. The article pictured below was published in the Tingsryd newspaper. The headline says “Searching for Music – Found Relatives.”
I traveled around the region, attending fiddle workshops, meeting musicians and other folks, enjoying nature, attending music festivals, visiting museums and spending some time in Stockholm. A fellow student from England had a vehicle which allowed us to travel around the area. Thanks Tania!
The picture below is me on the deck of af Chapman (built by Fredrik Henrik af Chapman in 1888 in White Haven, England). It is part of a STF (Svenska Turistföreningen) youth hostel (vandrarhem) on Skeppsholmen (an islet) in central Stockholm. Adjacent to the ship is the youth hostel called Skeppsholmen, having the same name as the islet on which it resides.
I returned home in late January 2001.
Follow these links for more history –
8 – 2014 to current
7 – 2010-2013
6 – 2010 – Sweden
5 – 2006 – 2009
4 – 2001 – 2006