Unusual violins – Travel: Copenhagen

Posted by jerry on July 30th, 2005 — Posted in Music, Travel

One of the highlights of Copenhagen was the musical instruments museum. It is broadly arranged along a timeline from ancient instruments to the beginnings of electronic music. But the biggest drawcard was the variety of unusual and experimental violins. Some of these I have seen as images elsewhere, but I always thought they had been photoshopped and distorted. But having seen for myself, I can attest that each of these fiddles is as I saw them!

This is a ‘Violinarpa’ made around 1800 by Carl Claudius Samling

It seems that Samling was a particular violin maker in Cpoenhagen in the early 1800s who liked to experiment with different shapes, and a number of his instruments have ended up in this museum.

Philomele violin
A ‘philomele’ violin made arond 1800 by Carl Caludius Samling

The National Museum of Copenhagen had a good collection of hardanger fiddles, including these four

four hardanger fiddles (hardingfele)
Hardanger fiddles (hardingfele)

I was told in no uncertain terms that hardanger fiddles are Norwegian instruments so I would not find many in Denmark. The Danes are very much Danish rather than Scandinavian, and took great pride in the distinction.

Adjacent to the National Museum is the violin maker Emil Hjorth & Sons in Copenhagen – of some distinction – and found that he had a fine example of a hardanger on the wall – but it was not for sale! The violin maker was good natured and allowed me to photograph the instrument. This was the closest I would get to a live hardingfele – no glass to impede the view. This gave me an excellent opportunity to photograph the bridge in some detail – because the photos from which mine was copied were not sufficiently clear to allow the luthier to cut a fully traditional one.

hardanger fiddle (hardingfele)
Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) photographed in Copenhagen violin makers shop Emil Hjorth & Sons

Hardanger fiddle bridge (hardingfele)
Hardanger fiddle bridge (hardingfele)

More soon on this fascinating place



Comment by jerry

The unusual violins were amazing – I would love to have heard them played!


Posted on August 1, 2005 at 11:09 pm

Comment by Susan Garrett

Those are some fascinating instruments! I’m looking for someone who can help me identify a Strad copy that has a Denmark label with the initials K M S and a picture of a girl holding a violin. I can’t find info anywhere? Any suggestions! Thanks!!

Posted on June 14, 2006 at 6:31 am

Comment by Hardingfele fan

Hardanger fiddles (known as hardingfele in Norway) are a *living* tradition in Norway — where they can be heard regularly in certain regions of the country. (Not all regions use hardingfeler, some use regular fiddle.)

There is a fiddlemaker in the USA who has won medals in Norway for the hardingfele that he builds — and he has a very unique violin that he builds as well, the VioLynn:

North America has an organization that supports the teaching and performance of Hardanger Fiddles, the HFAA (Hardanger Fiddle Association of America):

Posted on August 2, 2007 at 1:10 am

Comment by buy violin strings

I just saw this post and was amazed by the violins in the picture. They have this unique design that caught my attention.

Posted on November 16, 2009 at 3:51 pm

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