The visit to Tobo, Sweden, January 2010

January,  11 to 16, 2010 the multinational CADENCE-group was invited to the Eric Sahlström Institutet, Tobo, Sweden.

The first visit led us to the Eric Sahlström Institute in Tobo. The ESI resides in a manor house from the late 19th century, a lovely building with a marvellous atmosphere. Tobo belongs to the municipality of Tierp in the district of Uppland, the area in Sweden where the nyckelharpa has continuously been played for at least 3-4 centuries.
The first goal was to form a group of 18 individuals, most of whom were meeting for the first time. It worked better than one could expect. Being connected by a mutual special interest in the nyckelharpa helped all to feel familiar with each other quite quickly.

One specific feature of the ESI is that they offer one-year full-time courses for playing and dancing. The CADENCE group had the chance of observing several lessons with Ditte Andersson, Sonia Sahlström, and Olov Johansson, and of talking, playing, and dancing with their students. Traditionally Swedish nyckelharpa music is taught by ear. This method was also used in the lessons dealing with Swedish polskas that Ditte Andersson gave to the CADENCE members. As a special impression they were also invited to a dance lesson with Andreas Berchtold to get a first glimpse of dancing polska and of his fundamental ideas of teaching to dance.

A public seminar with the former and the present professors for folk music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Ole Hjorth and Sven Ahlbäck, was very exiting for the participants from the continent because in their home countries traditional music and dance are usually not regarded as academic university subjects. But in Sweden this university education is on a high level and very successful. The graduates generally get jobs quite easily. At this occasion Bo S Englund, the mayor of Tierp, also welcomed the group.

We joined “Tobotorsdag”, a periodic event every other Thursday from October until April. These evenings start with a short concert by a local folk music group. About 30 musicians and 20 dancers from the neighbourhood meet and have a whole evening of dancing and playing nyckelharpa and fiddle. There you can get a feeling of how a living tradition works.

In a trip to the countryside, we visited Tolfta church where two ceiling frescos of medieval nyckelharpas from about 1500 can be found, which gave us an impression of 500 years of tradition. We continued the trip to view sites of the former Swedish-Wallone steel production, which happened to be in the same region where the nyckelharpa used to be popular, and still is.

This was the programme:


Mon 11 Jan Arrivals


Dinner 17.30 and informal evening


Tue 12 Jan Start of Meeting

8.00 - 9.00 Breakfast

 9.00 – 12.30

  • Participants present themselves
  • Presentation of the EU project (Karsten Evers)
  • Presentation of the program for the visit in Tobo (Håkan Larsson).
  • National groups meet and discuss their prepared questions/ideas about the ESI-visit. Sweden answers questions. (Secretary takes notes, collects/copy documents if any).
  • The history of the foundation of the Eric Sahlström Institutet (Esbjörn Hogmark)
  • Presentation of the Institute (Michael Näslund)
  • The Swedish nyckelharpa and its history.
  • Discussion of prepared questions.

12.30 Lunch

13.30 1st EU-Lecture with Ditte Andersson. EU-Teachers and EU-Mangers observe.



15.00 Coffee and talks

15.45- 17.15 2nd EU-Lecture with Ditte Andersson together with ESI- dancing teacher Andreas Berchtold.EU-Teachers and EU-Mangers observe.

17-15-18.00 Summerize the day. Discussion of prepared questions.

18.00 Dinner

Evening: Listening to some instruments played solo. Open evening for invited guests and others to play.



Wed 13 Jan

8.00 Breakfast

9.00 -10.00 Attending a regular ESI-lecture with Ditte Andersson. All EU-participants observe. 
10.30-11.00 Coffee
11.15 – 15.00 Trip to Tolfta Church and lunch. Visit old historical industrial sites Forsmark, Lövsta, Österby where the Nyckelharpa has been continuously been played for hundreds of years.











15.00 Coffee and talks.

15.45-17.15 3rd Lecture with Ditte Andersson. Didier François with the ESI-class. Managers meet.

17.15-18.00 Summarize the day

18.00 Dinner

Evening. The head teachers of the ESI nyckelharpa/fiddle class Olov Johansson, Sonia Sahlström and Ditte Andersson play some tunes. Open for everyone who wants to play, especially Didier and Jule since they leave next day. And open for people outside the EU-project that wants to come.





Thur 14 jan

8.00 Breakfast

9.00 – 10.00 Visit a regular ESI-lecture with Olov Johansson

10.30 Coffee

11.00 4th Lecture with Ditte Andersson. Managers meet.








12.30 Lunch and discussions

14.00 - 17.00 Seminar on folk music education and research in Sweden. All interested in folk music are invited to attend the seminar and take part in the discussions. Media is invited as well as the mayor of Tierp.

14.00-15.00 Marco Ambrosini plays and talk about how he started to play the nyckelharpa and where he thinks it stands in Italy and Germany today.



15.00-15.30 Coffee break

15.30 Ole Hjorth fiddler and and Sven Ahlbäck speek and play some tunes.Ole Hjorth started the folk music education at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Sven Ahlbäck is the first professor of folk music in Sweden.

16.00 Discussion


17.30 Dinner for the EU-group


19.00 ’Tobotorsdag’ – A regular public ESI-evening with performances followed by the typical Swedish ‘allplay’ to the dance. Hosts this evening is Trollrike spelmän. The scene is open for everyone in the EU-project who wants to play a tune between 20-21.








Fri 15 Jan

8.00 Breakfast

9.00 – 10.00 Visit a regular ESI-lecture with Sonia Sahlström

10.30 coffee

11.00 5th Lecture with Ditte Andersson. Marco Ambrosini with ESI-class. Managers meet.


12.30 Lunch

·  Individual and group documentation (Secretary takes notes)

·  Planning activities on the wiki before next meeting

·  Discussion

Evening. Play and Party.











Sat 16 Jan

Touristing, lunch and shopping in Uppsala before going by train ‘Upptåget’ to Arlanda airport.