Folk music history & Tolfta kyrka

On Wednesday our special guest lecturer was Gunnar Ahlbäck. We spent the morning here at school. We started on the first floor, learning lots of detailed history about the founding of ESI and about some of the various photos and paintings on the first floor. (As well as being a historian, Gunnar is the artist who painted the folk dance scene in our dining room, and the instruments on its serving window.) Then we shifted to the upstairs lecture hall for a comprehensive history of harpas and harpa building, a slide show, and more stories.

In the afternoon, we all went for a field trip to Tolfta, where we studied the depictions of nyckelharpas and other instruments and various Biblical characters on the ornately painted walls and ceiling of the medieval church. (It was built around 1300; the paintings date from the 1600s and 1800s.) He pointed out specific scenes with his flashlight and told the stories they depict. Then he split us into small groups with specific research assignments — we English speakers were grouped together and given an assignment appropriate to our language skills, involving documenting all the musicians depicted in the paintings — and then we all reconvened to present our findings.

I recorded the whole lecture so that in a few months I can be amazed at how much more he taught us than I caught the first time around.

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