Collections Connection: Hardanger Fiddles with Karen Rebholz

In this recording, Karen Rebholz discuss Hardanger fiddles, the national instrument of Norway. Harkening back to its inception in the Baroque period, the Hardanger fiddle is richly ornamented with shell, bone, and ink and is played with asymmetric rhythms, multiple tunings, and non standard tones. The Hardanger fiddle has four or five sympathetic strings that resonate with the four bowed strings producing an ethereal sound. The traditional music has been preserved by means of an unbroken aural chain. Using examples from Vesterheim’s collection and Karen’s own collection, she shows how each fiddle is a work of art with unique form, decoration, and sound.

Karen Rebholz combined her interests in art, science, and music when she began to build Hardanger fiddles in 2012. She also repairs and appraises Hardanger fiddles, co-leads Fykerud’n Spelemannslag, and performs with Ladies of the Fjord. Karen holds undergraduate degrees in art and biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and has studied with Sigvald Rørlien at Ole Bull Akademiet in Voss, Norway. She was awarded a Vesterheim Gold Medal, and Best of Show and People’s Choice awards in The National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition in 2019, and is a two-time folk-art fellowship recipient from the American Scandinavian Foundation.

Collection Connections is a series of Vesterheim-hosted conversations between the museum’s collections staff and folk-art school instructors. Highlighting the incredible folk-art collection at Vesterheim, these conversations are also opportunities for you to stay connected with your folk-art community. Each gathering will highlight a piece or two from the collection as explained, interpreted, and appreciated by a master folk artist.

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