Anders Heyerdahl – ‘Nissespel’ Op 11

Posted on May 28th, 2013 by

Anders Heyerdahl – ‘Nissespel’ Op 11 (Outtake)

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Amati 1647 (Ole Bull)

Bass Ribs of the 1647 Amati ‘Ole Bull’

In addition, something to gladden the heart of any Dane, or anyone married to one. Also from Ole Bull’s collection a solo violin piece, very much in his spirit, and with a scordatura (retuning), which he would like. I have become fascinated with the work of Anders Heyerdahl (1832-1918), who I first encountered through a transcription that he made of Ole Bull improvising. Heyerdahl was a violinist, composer and collector of folk musik. The solo work which I found in the Lysoen collection was Nissespel. ‘Nisser’ as every Danish child does, are the playful house elves who must be humoured and honoured at Christmas. Heyerdahl’s title page includes one playing the violin for what almost appears to be a Nisser-witches dance-there are echoes of Paganini here.

Of course, the biggest echo of Paganini, is the scordatura-more extreme than any he used, and eccentric, even by the standards of Hardanger players!

Nissespel-tuning instructions

Nissespel-tuning instructions

Anders Heyerdahl – ‘Nissespel’ Op 11 -workshop recording-rip from video

(Scordatura AEACsharp)

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin (Harry Green 2013) Royal Academy of Music Museum ‘Soundbox’ May 2013

The title page of Anders Heyerdahl’s ‘Nisserspel’

This is only a beginning, but this piece paired with a text by Ole Bull’s great friend,  Aasmund Olavsson Vinje, a poem about the Nisse ‘som spila pa Fela (fiddle) og hoyra kann’. In 1857, Vinje had noted about Bull that he was a ‘marvellously unhappy man…as far as I can tell, he is not responsible for most of it’ (thanks to Einar Haugen for the quote-from his ‘Ole Bull: Norway’s Romantic Musician and Cosmopolitan Patriot’).

21st Ma 2013:Now this is what it’s all about. A regular audience member at SOUNDBOX, Harry Green, has been making a violin for 6 years. Today, he brought it in, and I was able to use it to give the modern premiere of Anders Heyerdahl’s ‘Nissespel’. That’s what’s all about for me-real inspiration from my audience, fascinating music from the 19th Century, and a new fiddle to show me new vistas of colour! A new violin should always be applauded-it/and Harry, were!