Norwegians Hilde Rudi Bråten, Mads Bøhle and Åsmund Svenkerud Featured at Weekend of Events April 25-27 and Norway Day Festival May 3-4
Hilde Rudi Bråten, Mads Bøhle and Åsmund Svenkerud, a trio of talented dancers and musicians from Trondheim, Norway, will be coming to the Bay Area for two weeks in late April and early May. On the weekend of April 25-27, the trio will be featured at a series of NCS sponsored performances, workshops, and dance parties in Los Gatos, Redwood City and Santa Cruz. On May 3-4 they will perform and teach several music and dance classes at the Norway Day Festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco (see the following article).
Hilde Rudi Bråten, who is 27 years old and works as a 3rd grade teacher, grew up in the valley of Valdres. Coming from a musical family, she developed an interest in the langeleik, a dulcimer like instrument, which she has been playing since the age of eight. She has become especially well know for playing very danceable Valdresspringar music. She is also adept at kveding (singing) and playing munnharpa and seljefløyte. Hilde grew up dancing Valdresspringar and has been competing since the age of ten. She has gone on to be educated in other folk dance traditions and as a folk dance instructor at the University of Trondheim. Back home she is leader for the Nidaros Leikarring and has much experience teaching dance to children. Hilde has been to the U.S. several times before, first as a highschool exchange student in Iowa, and then as a student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN.
Mads Bøhle is 26 years old and a nurse. Originally from Hamar, he currently resides in Trondheim where he is studying folkdance theory at the University. Mads started dancing when he was 6 years old. He has been a part of the dancing group Østerdalslaget in Hamar for 12 years. Today he is dancing for the Nidaros Leikarring and the Hedmark Danselag. He also teaches folkdancing at different schools. The dance that Mads is most known for is the halling, an acrobatic male solo dance. He learned halling from his dad, Thor Herman Bøhle. Mads has participated in dance competitions most of his life. At the age of 10 he became the Norwegian junior champion and is now competing in the "A" class. Mads performed at the '94 Olympic games in Lillehammer. He has also travelled abroad to perform Norwegian dance in such countries as Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Egypt, China, and Japan. Last summer Mads, Hilde and 10 other dancers, performed on an American cruise line that sailed up and down the Norwegian coast.
Åsmund Svenkerud is 23 years old and the fiddler of the group. Already educated as an engineer, he is currently studying chemistry at Norway Technical University in Trondheim. Originally from Ålen (South-Trøndelag), Åsmund started playing the fiddle when he was 6 years old. He has been in competitions since the age of 10 and recently advanced to the elite "A" class. In 1992 Åsmund was awarded the Asmund Bjørkens Spelemannspris, and in 1993 he received a scholarship from LfS (Landslaget for spelemenn). For four years Åsmund has been leading the fiddle group in the Nidaros Leikarring. He also works part-time at the community music school where he teaches classical and folk music to students 6 to 16 years old. Together with another young folk musician from Trøndelag, Åsmund is currently producing a CD of pols music from Røros and Trondheim.
Hilde, Mads, and Åsmund will be performing Friday night, April 25, at the Sons of Norway Heritage Night at Nordahl Hall in Los Gatos. Social hour starts at 6:30 pm, followed by a salmon dinner at 7:00, concert by the trio at 8:00, with desert and dancing starting at 9:00. $12 per person for the dinner, concert and desert. $10 for the concert and desert. If you are interested in attending, you must make a reservation by calling Florance Thompson at (408) 998-3269.
On Saturday, April 26, the three Norwegians will teach at an all-day workshop at the First United Methodist Church, 2915 Broadway, in Redwood City. Hilde and Mads will teach the pols traditions from the Røros/Trondheim area starting at 9:30 am (registration starting at 9:00) and continuing until 5:00 pm with a lunch break (a sandwich lunch will be provided for $3). Åsmund will meet with musicians in the afternoon starting at 2:00 pm. The evening starts off with a concert at 8:00 pm by Hilde, Mads, and Åsmund followed by a dance party until midnight. Cost of the entire day including workshops and evening concert and party is $40. Part time attendance is possible with the fiddle workshop costing $15 and the evening concert and dance party $10. For registration information contact Fred Bialy at (510) 215-5974 or Betsy McKone at (415) 368-8006.
Sunday's dance workshops will be held at Nordahl Hall, 580 W. Parr Ave., in Los Gatos. Hilde will review Valdresspringar from 10 am to noon ($7). Starting at noon, Mads will teach halling for an hour ($3, children are free). Hilde and Mads will teach a children's dance class from 1 - 2 pm (free). They will then teach tur- and songdansar from 2 - 5 pm ($10). For more information about these workshops contact Mikkel at (408) 998-2076 or Zena at (415) 355-3752. Sunday's events are being co-sponsored with the Nordahl Grieg Leikarring og Spelemannslag.
There will be two fiddle workshops with Åsmund on Sunday. A morning session, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm will be at the home of Anita Siegel, 77 Mt. View Ave. in Los Altos, (415) 961-3572. During part of the session, he will help fine tune the NCS repertoire for the Norway Day performance. The afternoon workshop, 2:00-5:00 pm, will be in the Solvig room at Nordahl Hall, 580 W. Parr Ave., in Los Gatos. Åsmund will spend part of the session on tunes for the Nordahl Grieg Spelemannslag Norway Day performance. Both sessions cost $10/each and are open to all interested musicians. If you would like copies of the NCS or Nordahl Grieg tunes, contact Fred at (510) 215-5974 or Bill at (415) 969-2080.
Sunday evening, Hilde, Mads, and Åsmund will perform in Santa Cruz at Viking Hall (the Scandinavian Cultural Center) at 240 Plymouth. Their concert will begin at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7:00), with refreshments and music for dancing until 10:00 pm. Tickets are $8 and available only at the door. This event is being co-sponsored by the Valhalla Scandinavians of Santa Cruz.
Come and join in on a full weekend of workshops concerts and dance parties with this delightful young trio from Trondheim! Don't miss them the next weekend at the Norway Day Festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
Norway Day Festival 1997 on May 3-4
"EXPERIENCE NORWAY!" Be inspired by Norway's sporting traditions! Discover it's heritage of outdoor activities! Learn about the country's thriving technology and industry! Taste Norway's finest culinary treats! Watch artisans demonstrate treasured crafts! Enjoy whirling folk dancers and traditional music! Plan a journey through Norway's fjords and valleys, seaside villages and sophisticated cities! Celebrate this breathtaking country of contrasts during two festive days of Nordic events and experiences, Saturday & Sunday, May 3 and 4, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, in the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason.
Numerous boutiques and booths will provide nearly endless opportunities to sample Norwegian food, view and buy traditional crafts and gifts, and learn more about the breadth of Norway's cultural and economic accomplishments. Entertainment will be provided by visiting Norwegian performance artists as well as music and dance groups from Washington State and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Three of the featured performers from Norway will be Torhild Staahlen, Neil Dodd, and Gudney Dahlin. Torhild has been one of the featured soloists for the Norwegian Opera in Oslo for 25 years. Her husband Neil Dodd (he is fondly referred to as the golfing Scotsman) is the conductor of the orchestra for the Norwegian Opera in Oslo. Torhild will be singing a variety of tunes, from traditional folk songs to classical numbers. As she puts it "Beetles to Bach." Neil will be accompanying her on piano. Gudney plays the accordion and sings. In past years she has performed at the Turlock Scandinavian Festival were she delighted her audiences with familiar songs and stories from her homeland.
Coming also from Norway will be the talented young trio of Hilde Rudi Bråten, Mads Bøhle, and Åsmund Svenkerud (see article on page 1). Through a performance of music and dance from around Norway, they will show you some of the ways in which folk dancing and music are a part of everyday life in Norway. In addition to their concerts, they will also lead dancing and music workshops. (see Norway Day Festival web page).
It will be a privilege to hear the Tacoma Barnekor (Children's Chorus). They are a group of talented young singers who will delight your ears with Norwegian songs. Rumor has it that they will be performing in Trondheim soon. Many local favorites are returning again this year with more of their wonderful performances. The Normana Glee Club together with the San Francisco Singers will perform the National Anthems and other favorite songs. The Nordahl Grieg Spelemannslag og Leikarring and the Northern California Spelemannslag will be performing traditional Norwegian music and dance.
Spend a fun-filled, informative, and entertaining "Norwegian" day (or entire weekend) at Fort Mason! Admission will be $5/day for adults. Children 12 and under will be let in free. Parking will be available on the Fort Mason grounds or at Crissy Field (with free shuttle service to and from the festival). The Festival is being co-sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Consulate General and is supported by 35 Norwegian-American heritage and business organizations. For further information, please call Bob Hendrickson, general chairman for the festival, at (510) 676-4708, or the Royal Norwegian Consulate General at (415) 986-0766 or see Norway Day Festival web page.
Workshop with Anders Bjernulf May 17
Anders Bjernulf, fiddler from Rättvik, who has been living in the Bay Area since February 1996, will be moving back to Sweden in June. On Saturday, May 17, he will be giving his last fiddle workshop before leaving town. Anita Siegel (77 Mountain View Ave., Los Altos, 415-961-3572) is again making her home available for the day-long session which will start at 10:00 am and end at 5:30 pm.
Anders plans to work with six tunes from his previous workshops: Enkvarnskånken, Polska efter Börjes Olle, Polska i d-moll av Säbb John, Polska efter Dalfors, Ritäkt Jerk Polska, and Slåttbäcken av Anders Bjernulf. Participants should be familiar with the tunes before the workshop as Anders will spend most of the time working on nuances of style and rhythm. A cassette tape is available with Anders playing these tunes at normal tempo and also once slowly.
Pre-registration for this workshop is recommended. The workshop cost is $30. If you want the tape, add $1.00 plus $1.50 for postage. A simple lunch of sandwiches, chips, carrots, and punch will be provided at nominal extra cost. Please bring pot-luck snacks. During the evening, plan on attending the Third Saturday Scandinavian Party where workshop tunes will be played. To register and order a tape, contact Jeanne Sawyer at (408) 929-5602 or jsawyer@SawyerPartnership.com .
Väsen Returns to Bay Area June 8-9
The phenomenal Swedish folk music trio (actually quartet since they added percussionist Andreas Farrarie to the band) will be returning to the Bay Area this June. Olov Johansson, Mikael Marin and Roger Tallroth dazzled audiences at two concerts last summer, one in Redwood City, the other in Santa Cruz. This trip they will be performing in Monterey and again in Redwood City.
On Sunday, June 8, Väsen will be performing at the World One Festival at the Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. The Monterey World One Festival, a two day event (June 7 & 8) will bring together some of the very best performing talent the world has to offer. Artists representing the sounds and rhythms of every hemisphere will perform on four stages. Besides Väsen, some of the other major performers will be: Los Lobos, Flora Purim and Airto with Fourth World, Steeleye Span, CJ Chenier, the Mari Bøine Band, Conjunto Cespedes, Zakir Hussain, Hamza El Din, and the Klezmatics. On Sunday evening, Väsen will appear on the Main Stage with Steeleye Span (English Rock Group), and the Mari Bøine Band (Lapland). They will also be appearing on the Dance Stage late Sunday afternoon. Tickets for the Sunday evening show in which Väsen appears are $33. Passes for the festival that admits one to all events including the Dance Stage but excluding the Main Stage are $22 per day. Tickets for all four Main Stage shows on Saturday and Sunday will be $99. Call (888) 443-4643 for information about tickets or accommodations. The World One Festival has a web site: www.worldone.org.
Planning is still underway for an additional Väsen concert closer to San Francisco, either on June 9 or 10. Once details for this concert are finalized, flyers will be distributed. For further information, contact Fred Bialy at (510) 215-5974 or FredBialy@aol.com
There's Still Room for Musicians and Dancers at Mendocino Scandia Camp 1997
According to camp director Nancy Linscott, a few more musicians and dancers can still be accommodated at the Mendocino Scandia Camp, June 14-20. It should be a great week for enthusiasts of both Norwegian and Swedish folk music.
Coming from Norway will be Marit Larsen and Borghild Reitan. Marit is educated as a "violin pedagogue" and specializes in the pols traditions of Østerdal. Borghild comes from Ålen, a village 39 kilometers north of Røros. She has been playing fiddle since the age of seven and has studied with many of the top fiddlers from Røros. Coming from Sweden will be Thomas Westling, a riksspelman from Hälsingland. Since the 1980's Thomas, his father Hugo Westling, and other members of the group Westling Spelmän have been playing for the annual Hälsingland Hambo contest. American Becky Weis will also be at camp teaching nyckelharpa. Becky just returned from a year in Sweden where she was doing research on the nyckelharpa for her doctoral thesis in ethnomusicology.
For registration information, contact Nancy Linscott at 53 Presidio Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941, (415) 383-1014, email@example.com or Roo Lester DancingRoo@aol.com
The News from... Norway
translations by Crystal Lokken
Spelemannsbladet, published eight times a year by the Landslaget for Spelemenn (LfS) in Norway, reports on news and issues of interest to musicians and dancers. With this issue I am starting a regular column that contains summaries of articles and news items that I think may be of interest to the readers of the NCS News. (FB)
The December `96 issue of Spelemannsbladet contained an interview with Bjørn Lein, leader of the LfS. He comments about the future for folk music and dance in Norway as well as important concerns for LfS: "There is a generation shift, but we have well qualified young people who are eager to learn. They have good instruction in the spelemennslags, as well as in the music schools. Young people are considering music as a livelihood, as performers, teachers, archivists, district musicians, media producers, etc. The `roots' wave has increased interest in our folk music; ethnic music is `in' for now. Newspapers and magazines carry articles about folkmusic, but TV and radio lag behind in coverage. The older musicians are staying away from kappleiks and stemnes, which is unfortunate because they are needed to protect the tradition and to encourage the younger players. Dance is not experiencing the same growth as music. In many places bygdedans does not thrive as a popular dance, being more often a performance or competition dance. It is not `real' for young people. But we will make it a priority for the future, and work to strengthen instruction in schools and physical education classes. We want to make folk music visible in the Oslo area. We want to update politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and the mass media about our work. We have known for many years that the urban population, especially in Oslo, is greatly interested in our folkmusic legacy. For this reason, it pleases me greatly that Halvard Bjørgum and Ny Ringnesen have brought runddans music into the concert arena. It is important to have such `lighthouses' around the country!"
This year's national budget for folk music includes increased appropriations for the Landslaget for Spelemenn (LfS) and the Norse Folkmusic and Danselag (NFD). With the extra money LfS will create a coordinator position to assist with planning the annual Landskappleiken and Landsfestivalen in order to provide continuity from year to year. NFD is planning a collection of projects called The Norsk Hallingforum which will introduce the dance in the schools with the goal of making it more appealing to youth, will promote the use of halling as a fitness activity, and will present men's solo dances from several other countries. NFD will also organize folk music and folk dance concerts at the Oslo Culturehouse, and at pubs or outdoors along Karl Johan (Oslo's main street).
The Rådet (Council) for Folk Music and Folk Dance (Rff) did not get more money this year. Rff is the only institution in Norway which has documented folk dance on film and video. It's archives are large and unique. According to Hilde Bjørkum, leader in the Rff, "The increase in grants for folk music undertakings is gratifying, though lopsided." The Rff had applied for two grants: one would have distributed money to groups and people around the country who wished to initiate new folk music projects in their communities and the other would have created a position within Rff to help local groups in collecting and analyzing local folkdance traditions. Hilde thinks that help is needed more than ever before to establish a new curriculum in schools which emphasizes folk dance. She thinks that folk dance is experiencing a decline now, and a position for folk dance would help to encourage its growth.
A new folk music exhibit at the Hardanger Folk Museum in Utne features the "Jaastadfele" (Jaastad fiddle), Norway's oldest hardingfele! The Jaastadfele dates from 1651. It is smaller than the modern hardingfele, has only 2 under-strings, and, except for the characteristic "chessboard" patterned fingerboard, has modest decorations. One of the last times that the Jaastadfele was played in public was in 1881, by Knut Lussandat at the wedding of Ola Håstadbø. In 1884, the Historical Museum in Bergen bought it and has now made it available for permanent display just a few kilometers from where it originated. She was played most recently at the Landskappleik in Voss in l99l.
The exhibit contains many other old Hardanger fiddles, some by Isak and Trond Botna. Some fiddle's come with stories. For example, one about Nils Tjoflåt's fiddle (made by Knut E Steintjøn in 1889): "On 11 July, 1898, Tjoflåt and two others sailed out onto the fjord from Granvin. Nils Tjoflåt sat in the boat and fiddled. The boat capsized and all three drowned. The fiddle and Nil's hat floated to the surface. The fiddle was rescued. It had come unglued, but was fixed up again." Now it is in the exhibit in Utne. There are also decorated fiddle cases and a collection of furniture which fills a nook, and depicts, with the help of mannequins, an evening of folk dance.
This past summer, the second annual Munnharpe (Jew's harp) Festival took place in Valdres. It was well attended and was aired on national radio. Ånon Egeland, founder and promoter of the festival (and himself an excellent munnharpe player and collector of harps from all over the world), said that the festival is so special that people travel a long way to take part. Munnharpists came from Hungary, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, England, and Japan. One of the Japanese participants, Leo Tadagawa, described the munnharpe tradition in Jakutia (Yakutsk), Siberia. The older performers there can stroke the munnharpe with the tongue and thus turn the harp so that it's in the mouth. This technique, used many years ago in Telemark, Westlandet and Valdres, is now lost in Norway, but has continued in Siberia! This year's yearbook of the Norsk Folkemusikklag (Norwegian Folk Music Association) contains Gjermund Kolltveit's article "Munnharpe's Early History in the North," the result of his research at the University of Oslo. The book can be ordered from Norsk Folkesmusikklag by phoning: 011 47 73 59 65 89.
Sven Nyhus was the 1996 recipient of an annual prize given by the Rådet for Folk Music and Folk Dance (Rff). Hilde Bjørkum made the presentation, lauding him as a person who towers over an impressive part of the Norwegian folk music scene, and of Norwegian music life in general. "It is not always easy to put oneself forward in the world," said Bjørkum, "not even in the folk music milieu. At times he has had to fight to get support and encouragement from his own colleagues. Our prize-winner has been both a strong mediator and a hard worker. Respect for the old sources runs through his work like a red thread. He stands for trustworthiness and quality in all that he does. The result of his work has lasting worth for all of Norway."
Sven has been active in Norwegian folk music for almost 50 years. He grew up in Røros, in a folk music family whose home was a gathering place for musicians and the old, local music tradition. He showed musical talent early, and became a member of the local spelemannslag. With financial support from Johan Falkberget (a writer from the Røros area) Sven was able to go to Oslo for his education.
In Oslo he performed for the folk music "half hour" on Norwegian radio (NRK), and was the first to play "vanlig fele" (common fiddle, distinguished from hardingfele) tunes from his home area on radio, which created new interest for folk music in Røros. Sven's gammaldans quartet was legendary, and some of his compositions have become known and loved both in and out of the folk music milieu. He is one of the few folk musicians who have become well known outside of the folk music arena. He has had great influence on folk musicians as a trail breaker, has been a bridge builder towards other musical genre, and has helped to give Norwegian folk music an external face. In 1971 he was appointed to the Norsk Folkmusic faculty at the University of Oslo. Besides publishing books and recordings, he has transcribed folk music using beautiful hand-written notations, and has overseen the work of publishing the two last volumes of hardingfele tunes, as well as melodies from Valdres. For ten years, beginning in 1978, he led the Norwegian Folkmusic section on NRK. He was a programmer for both folk music and other programs, and increased the number of recordings of folk music in NRK's archives to 10,000. He later became a professor at Norges Music Høgskule. The great interest that school has now in Norwegian folk music is due to Sven Nyhus.
On August 30, 1996, The Ole Bull Academy in Voss opened a new music program called the Spelemannsskulen (Master's Studio). The official opening was attended by Turid Langeland from the State Department of Culture, with greetings also from the University of Bergen, the Grieg Academy, the Landslaget for Spelemenn, Hordeland fylke, and the county of Voss. Jostein Mæland from Ole Bull Academy said that even though the Spelemannsskulen is a new enterprise, the manner of learning is very old. Direct transmission from master to student is the oldest kind of musical training. The first four students and their masters are: Christian Borlaug, from Ringerike (Knut Buen), Lars Underdal from Vågsli, Telemark, (Knut Buen), Liv Merete Kroken from Hornindal, Nordfjord, (Arne Solveberg) and Sigrid Terese Moldestad from Breim, Nordfjord (John Oddvar Kandal).
After two years of study, the students will receive a "diploma," comparable to that earned at a høgskule (technical university). Much of the study will take place in the individual student's home area, with visits from the master teachers every two weeks. An important goal is that each individual cultivate their own style of playing. In the course of the two years, the students will meet ten times in Voss, where they will take courses in music and theory. They will also take part in weekend workshops open to others, and will have connections with the Grieg Academy (conservatory of music) in Bergen.
The Ole Bull Academy has plans to expand the Master's Studio program to include vocal folk musicians. It is hoped that this new program will be ready by the beginning of the 1997/98 school year.
This past February, the fylkeskappleik for Trøndelag took place in Budalen, which lies between Røros and Oppdal in southern Trøndelag. Less well know musically than its neighbors, Budalen, nevertheless, has a rich folk music tradition as evidenced by the more than 2000 slåtter (tunes) from this area that have been written down since the middle of the 1800's. The tunes are mostly for runddans and bygdedans (in which pols does not have a strong place!). The pols dance was, and still is, very popular, but there is reason to believe that the music notation books did not include the pols simply because the pols was played so much that it was not necessary to use notes to remember them! Spelmann Ole Larsen Enlid (1827-1900) had a great repertoire of pols and it happened that one time, on request, he played 30 pols in a row without repeating himself!
The first great spelmenn remembered from this area are the "Grindakaran" ("The Grinda Guys") - the brothers, Even Larsen Solemsvoll (1819-1881) and Kristoffer Hyttehaug (1827-1898). Even played fiddle, and Kristoffer played clarinet. They were among the first in Budalen who taught themselves to read and play from notes. They wrote down hundreds of slåtter, but only Kristoffer's collections are preserved. Together with Budalen's best known spelmann, Lars Larsen Storrø (1844-1898), the Grindakar traveled for several years to Røros where they rented a hall to play for dancing during the annual market days. It is said that after the trip to the market, Kristoffer sat for several weeks and wrote down slåtter.
It is quite typical that the spelmenn in Budalen were multi-talented. Kristoffer Hyttehaug made his clarinet himself, constructed telescopes, was a smithy, bookbinder, engraver and designer! Lars Storrø was also a typical individualist in many ways. He was not very old when he made his own fiddle. For the strings, he dried sheep-gut, cut it up into strips and stretched it. They say that Lars' mother was not very enthusiastic about having Lars play the fiddle, so she destroyed it. But Lars didn't give up - he just built a new fiddle! As an adult, he worked as a lumberjack in Sweden in the winter, and later on became a merchant. On his trips, he bought music and learned from spelmenn in other areas. Storrø wrote down several hundred slåtter in two bound collections as well as a series of sheet music. He is mentioned in several music notebooks in Trøndelag at this time, and had several slåtter in the collection of Smed-Jens (Jens the smithy) from Røros.
Both Kristoffer Hyttehaug and Lars Større became important models for the younger spelmenn in the area. Their influence is indeed the main reason that slåtte music bloomed as it did in Budalen during the second half of the 1800's. One of the next generation inspired by Lars was Ole Enlid. From an early age he wrote down some of the tunes he learned from spelmenn who could not do musical notation. There was also Ole Anderson Enmo (1847-1910), whose birth 150 years ago was commemorated at a concert at the fylkeskappleik in February. He did not play from notes, but was a spelemann known for good tempo and rhythm in his playing. He was considered the best dance fiddler, especially among young people. Even Solemsvoll's son Lars (1845-1925) became a well known fiddler not only in Budalen, but also in Sweden, where he travelled a lot as a young man. In Swedish fiddle tune collections he is called "Spæleman-Lars." He is credited with bringing to Sweden the tune known as "Jæmtlandsk Brurmarsj," which is found in several variations in the Budal area. Even's second son, Nils, immigrated to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he was a violin teacher at Stolls College. Several people from Budalen later went to visit Nils in America in order to learn his tunes, among them, Ole O Enlid (1877-1967).
In this century the fiddle is to a great degree outstripped by the accordion, and the oral tradition has been for the most part broken. An exception is John Endalsvoll, who still plays tunes from memory. Olav Ingemann Enlid has also collected many older tunes.
Winners from the Oslo Kappleik, in October, 1996, include some names probably familiar to readers of the News: Spel-Hardingfele Cl. A, 1st prize, Harald Røine, Ø. Slidre Spel- og dansarlag; Spel-Hardingfele Cl. C, 1st prize, Per Anders Buen Garnås, Tuddal Spelemannslag; Vocal Folkmusic Cl. B. 1st prize, Ingvill Marit Garnås, Telemark Folkemusikklag; Traveling trophy (Myllargutprisen) for best hardingfeleslått (tune), Harald Røine; Dans-Hardingfele Cl. A, 1st prize, a tie between Ingeborg Herigstad/Hellik Dokka, Kongsberg Spel-og Danslag: Numedalsspringar, and Brit Totland/Bjorn Strand, Valdreslaget i Oslo, Dovre Leik-og Dansarlag: Valdresspringar; Dans-Hardingfele Cl. B. 1st prize, Mari Sem/Asgaut Bakken, Telemark Folkemusikklag: Telespringar; Dans-Fele Cl. B. 1st prize, Rannveig Bakka/Harald Tamnes, Kongsberg Spel-og d lag: Rørospols.
At the first ever Sogn og Fjordane (province in western Norway just north of Bergen) Kappleik for gammaldans music, Indre Sunnfjord Spelemannslag won in the lagspel class with the group Naustedølen taking first place in the gammaldans class (they also took second place in the lag class).
At this past year's Vestland's Kappleik, Knut Hamre won a narrow victory over Leif Rygg and Håkon Høgemo in the A-Class for hardingfele. In vocal folk music, Unni Løvli, from Hornindal, took the trophy, winning over Unni Boksarp from Tingvoll. The A-Class dance trophy was won by Anne Røine and Håkon Dregelid from Voss. The results for other competitors that some of us know: Dans-Hardingfele Cl. A: 2. Hilde Bjørkum, Vidar Underseth - Halling frå Dalsfjord; 4. Leikny Aasen, Vidar Underseth - Springar frå Solund; 9. Solbjørg Steiro Herstad, Arild Herstad - Sunnfjordspringar; 11. Sigrunn Vigdal, Lars Vigdal - Jostedalspringar. Dans-Hardingfele Cl. B: 1. Kirstin Friis, Leon Årdal - Parhalling; 2. Kirstin Friis, Leon Årdal - Jølstraspringar; 13. Målfrid Stuhaug, Inge Lavoll - Jølstraspringar. Spel-Hardingfele Cl. A: 5. Sigmund Eikås, Indre Sunnfjord. Spel-Hardingfele Cl. B: 3. Vidar Underseth, Sogn og Fjordane; 9. Leikny Aasen, Ålesund. Spel-Hardingfele Cl. C: 2. Elisabet Eikås, Indre Sunnfjord. Spel-Hardingfele Cl. C, guest class: 1. Per Anders Buen Garnås, Tuddal..
Bruce Sagan: Spelman from Michigan
by Fred Bialy
Bruce Sagan, a fiddler from Michigan particularly interested in Scandinavian folk music and co-founder of the Scandinavian Week at Buffalo Gap (in West Virginia) with his wife Judy Barlas, has been living temporarily in the Bay Area since December. Since his arrival, ostensibly to do research in mathematics at the Math Institute at UC Berkeley, he has been active teaching and playing in the local Scandinavian music and dance community. In 1994-95, Bruce lived in Sweden for a year while he was a visiting lecturer at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology. Recently, Bruce took time out from his busy schedule to talk about his background and music activities.
When did you first start playing music?
I actually started out playing the piano at the age of eight. My mother is a music teacher and she definitely wanted her kids to have a musical upbringing. After a couple of years I realized the piano wasn't really my instrument, so I took up the violin. I also played recorder and sung a lot, for example in the San Francisco Boys Chorus.
Your early training was all classically oriented?
Entirely. When I entered undergraduate school at Cal State Hayward, I felt that I was really playing more for my mother's sake than I was for mine, so I stopped. Around the same time I also started international folk dancing. My girlfriend at the time - she was in political science and I was in mathematics - and I wanted to take a course together. So she found this folk dance class in the course catalogue. The problem was that the only class that would fit both of our schedules was the intermediate one. I said, "I can't possibly do this. I have two left feet." But she badgered me into it. At the first class session they were teaching Sweet Girl, this Armenian dance which has a turn and a clap in it. It was much too hard for me, so I ended up sitting out on the sidelines and watching. The thing that I noticed was that since people were just learning the dance, they were somewhat uncomfortable with it and the place where that showed up the most was when they had to do the turn and clap. Some people were clapping a little ahead of the beat and some were clapping a little after the beat. It was kind of a spatter effect. But after they did the dance more and more times, the clap got closer and closer to being unified until finally they were all turning and clapping as one person. This side of the dancing - these dozen individuals, some of whom had never met before, suddenly coming into a unified whole in the dance - was just hypnotic. I was absolutely mesmerized. My girlfriend eventually dropped out of the class and I stayed and worked like a dog to get up to their level. I became a folk dance maniac at that point, coming up to Berkeley to go to I-House, and Aitos, and later, Ashkenaz.
Did you start playing folk music at the same time?
No. I didn't start playing folk music until I moved to Boston for graduate school at MIT. One of the first things that I did in Boston was to check out where they were having international folk dancing. One evening a band from the performance group "Mandala" was playing. I noticed that there wasn't anyone playing fiddle. So I went up to them afterwards and asked, "How would you like somebody to play Hungarian fiddle for you." At that time, I hadn't played anything Hungarian outside of Bartok. But I figured, you know, that I was a classically trained violin player and these were poor benighted folkies. I figured that I could probably run rings around them. You see, I was a little bit snobbish at the time. But they said, "Fine, a great idea! Show up at our next rehearsal."
So I showed up and they set down a music stand in front of me with a ruchenitsa on it. That's a Bulgarian dance in 7/16. Of course, I had never played in 7/16. They picked one from the Shope region, where ruchenitsas are extremely fast, and started playing it at full dance-tempo, leaving me firmly in their dust. So I learned that there was a lot more to playing folk music than I had given people credit for. Later on, I found out that they had been working on this piece all summer and I was the only person sight-reading!
Did you play with Mandala the entire time you were in graduate school?
Pretty much. In fact, I eventually became its orchestra director. I learned an immense amount about playing for dancing and how to organize a group of people. I remember especially our first few rehearsals. I was used to classical orchestra rehearsals where you sit down, you are quiet, and the conductor tells you exactly what he wants to hear and when. Of course, folk music rehearsals are much more free-form. It took me quite awhile to get used to that and to find some middle ground where I could keep the group focused and yet not be a dictator.
So was it in the midst of that period that you started playing Scandinavian music as well?
Exactly. Matt Fichtenbaum had come back from living in Linköping (Sweden). While he was there, he had built himself a nyckelharpa and had started playing. In fact, he had even been teaching some courses. When he came back to the Boston area he was looking for people to play with. One night, Matt sat me down in his car with a cassette of "Tre Spelmän." I never had heard anything so lush and wonderful. I think that really contributed to my focusing on Scandinavian rather than some other tradition like Hungarian or Rumanian. The other thing that I found that I really like about Scandinavian music, once I started getting into it and playing more than just the hambo, rørospols and vossarull, was that I really enjoy improvising. And I really liked that the music, especially Swedish music, is built for two fiddles. That image of two fiddlers standing head to head, interacting with each other, and having this intense communication, was much more satisfying for me than the image of the primas in Hungarian music, who is essentially a solo violinist being backed by an orchestra. I was much more interested in this kind of give and take between two people.
Is that not found in other folk fiddle traditions?
This is uniquely Swedish as far as I know. Anyway, after getting started with Matt, I ended up going out to Mendocino Scandia Camp when Bengt Jonsson was there for the first time. I actually stayed a second week for Folklore Camp where I was the music director. Bengt was there for both weeks as well. I remember having just a devil of a time learning by ear, because I'd never been forced to do that before. In the Mandala orchestra and other orchestras that I'd played with in the Boston area, we would always have sheet music. Still, most of the tunes that he threw at me - hambos, polskas, even the Boda tunes - I could pick up and hear where they were going. Given enough time and work, I would know them by the next lesson.
Finally, Bengt decided that I had gotten good enough that he would try me out on some Orsa tunes. I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. I couldn't find the melody! I couldn't find the beat! And I didn't understand blue notes at that point. I remember just being floored when he taught me Vallåtspolska. I never have worked so hard in my life. And even by the end of the week I still couldn't play it solidly. Bengt has this nice system he uses when he is teaching somebody: he plays along with you until he thinks you have learned the melody and then switches to harmony. If you can stay on the melody while he is playing harmony, then you really have it. If not, then he goes back and helps you more with the melody. Every single time that he switched to harmony with Vallåtspolska, I would flounder.
It sounds like it was a momentous summer.
It was. In fact, Matt commented that when I came back from Mendocino, my playing sounded Swedish rather than American. I guess the best compliment I have ever had was one time when Bengt was at one of our camps at Buffalo Gap. Judy was sitting with her back turned to me while I was playing some tunes that Bengt had been teaching me. She later told me that she thought it had been Bengt playing instead of me! I had arrived, if I could mimic my main teacher that way!
Bengt has definitely been my primary mentor. The year we lived in Sweden, Bengt's place was like our home away from home. Whenever we wanted to get out of the hustle and bustle of Stockholm or there was something special going on in Bollnäs, we would take the train up and stay over. He has been amazingly kind. And not just with me. I see that he does this with other fiddlers, really encouraging them.
Other influences over the years? Do some stand out?
Sure. The other major influence on fiddle, has been Bosse Larsson. When Bosse and Leif Alpsjö came to our camp, I couldn't attend the advanced fiddle course. So I asked Bosse whether he would be willing to find some other time during the day when we were both free to show me the tunes. These supposed lessons quickly degenerated into just jam sessions. We each really fell in love with the way the other played. I think that we play in a similar style with lots of gusto. He loved having someone to harmonize his melodies and I loved having a great melody player to harmonize with. I always visit and play with him when I to to Sweden.
So, do you prefer the music from Hälsingland and Uppland?
I mainly play music from eastern Dalarna, Uppland, Hälsingland, and Gästrikland. Which reminds me that Tony Wrethling from Gästrikland has also had a big influence on me, although I haven't played with him as much as with Bosse. I first got introduced to him when he was on our camp staff one year. I was familiar with his recording Listiga Jonsson and had loved his playing on it. I remember cramming a few months before camp to learn as many of the tunes on that album as I could so we would have some common repertoire.
Who has influenced you most on nyckelharpa and hardingfele?
My early training on nyckelharpa was with Leif Alpsjö, who has been over to the U.S. many times. When I lived in Sweden I took a number of lessons from Puma Hedlund. Perhaps the biggest influence, though, has been Olov Johansson because of his incredible playing. I have listened over and over to the Väsen CDs and then the group was at our camp last year. When I lived in Sweden, I went to the week at Ekebyholm and had Olov as my primary teacher. I also had him at a course that Björn Ståbi runs up at his farm.
For hardingfele, the two primary influences have been Bjarne Pålerud and Håkon Asheim. Bjarne came to our very first camp in 1986. He really introduced me to the hardingfele. I had fiddled around on it and tried to do the standard Vossarul that everybody plays, but had no clear conception of how to play the instrument or what Telemark music was. He was a wonderful guy and a wonderful teacher, very understanding and patient. I remember that it was very hard for me, being so into Swedish music, to suddenly start beating on one and two instead of one and three.
Håkan has been the source of most of the Valdres music that I play. He is one of the best teachers that I have ever had for any instrument. Not only can he break down tunes and tell you exactly what he's doing, he can listen to you and pinpoint precisely what you need to do to play better.
Did you start playing nyckelharpa at the same time that you got introduced to Swedish music by Matt?
When I started playing with Matt, I felt that I would never be a true Swedish folk musician unless I also learned to play nyckelharpa. But nyckelharpa came much later. I started out with a nyckelharpa of Tim Rued's. Eventually I got a wonderful nyckelharpa from Oskar Sundström. But, at that time, I still didn't have any depth to my playing. I didn't really get serious about it until Leif was at our camp for the first time.
Where did you get your first hardingfele?
From Jan Danielsson of Spælimenninir. This was around 1978 and Spælimenninir was on tour in Boston. Jan was making this hardingfele while he was travelling, which is just mind-boggling to me, with hopes of selling it to somebody in the States. I ended up buying it. Then, while I was on Karin Brennesvik's Telemark Experience about seven years ago, we went to Sverre Sandvik's violin shop. I played a bunch of his hardingfele in groups and Judy, without knowing which ones I was playing, ranked them. The one that I bought from him was in the top two in each of three trials. It was probably the best one that he had at the shop. It's good to have someone else listening when trying out an instrument, since it can sound very different under the ear than it sounds out in public.
Tell me about the Scandinavian Week at Buffalo Gap.
Back in the early 80's, Larry Weiner, Jean Bollinger, and Mel and Phyllis Diamond bought Buffalo Gap Camp. Previously, the place had been mainly a kid's summer camp, at which the foursome had been running two international folk dance camps (over the Memorial Day and Labor Day long weekends). When the camp was put up for sale, Larry, Jean, Mel and Phyllis bought it with the intent of turning it into an adult cultural facility. Of course, they couldn't possibly pay the bills with just their own two weekends each year, so they started soliciting new events. Larry asked Judy and I if we would start a Scandinavian camp. We were quite friendly with him after being regulars at the two weekends, and I had been playing in the camp orchestra.
We had already been thinking of starting our own Scandinavian camp, for a number of reasons. First of all, it seemed as if there was getting to be enough of a critical mass of dancers and musicians on the East Coast that we should have something local so people would not have to travel all the way out to California to attend a camp. Also, we wanted to have a camp with more emphasis on the music than I had seen at Mendocino. And we wanted to give the musicians the possibility of dancing as well, because we felt that to be a good dance musician it really helps if you know the dances at least somewhat and can feel what you need to do musically in order to get the dancers to do their steps correctly.
We also felt that Mendocino was essentially organized for advanced dancers. We thought that it was extremely important, if the dance community was going to stay alive, to encourage beginners as well. So, right from the start, we had beginners' classes and made sure that we welcomed people at all levels both in terms of the music and the dance.
Our so-called Basics Class is taught by Roo Lester. It was originated the first year by Ingvar Sodal, who has always been very supportive of the camp. At first it was held opposite a more advanced dance class taught by one of the imported teachers, but people who really needed the basics didn't want to miss the other class. Now, Basics is the first class in the morning, and the only dance class in that time slot. Originally the idea was just to bring beginners up to speed, so they'd be able to participate in the evening parties. It was a wonderfully small class, but the students didn't get to work with advanced dancers. When we rescheduled it, lots more advanced dancers started coming. They know there's always more to be learned about posture, style, partnering and so on. In the process, they give the beginners the advantage of having solid partners while they're learning.
In terms of the music program, we assume that fiddlers are proficient on the instrument: we're not there to teach basic technique. However, for the first of the three fiddle levels you need not have played Scandinavian music before. We also offer three levels of hardingfele and of nyckelharpa, although there, familiarity with the instrument is not assumed at the beginning stage. In addition, there is a gammaldans band for allspel and this year we are offering small ensemble coaching and singing classes.
It was really touch and go that first year. We were getting closer and closer to the due date for applications and there were nowhere near enough to pay for the week. We called up Larry and said that we might need to cancel the camp. He said people always sign up late and that we should give them some extra time. So we did and it ran. This year will be our 11th camp. And we are moving back to Buffalo Gap after two years at Ramblewood.
How do you balance the needs of newcomers with those of the more experienced dancers?
It can be a problem sometimes. It's hard on our teachers because they have a wide range of dancers to accommodate and it is always harder to teach to a broad class. There has sometimes been problems getting people to mix with each other more. This is mainly an issue at the parties, since for the dance teaching we change partners regularly by just moving up the line. Of course, people do like to hang out and dance with their own friends. So Judy has made announcements urging campers to try dancing with everyone, even if they're not as strong as you or not someone you know well. Roo also does a lot of mixer dances, especially during the beginning of camp, to get people to meet each other.
We make some allowances for the more experienced dancers. For example, we have an afternoon slot where there are special review sessions for dances that have been done in past years. It's made clear that to come to these sessions one should already know the dance. It's meant to be a brush up on styling. I think the beginners are respectful of that. They have more than enough to keep them happy. We sometimes use these sessions to teach the basics of some of the more popular dances (such as Telespringar, Boda, Bingsjö or Orsa) not being featured by the guest teachers. These sessions are more than a brush up on styling, but the pace is quick and will probably overwhelm most beginners. We also keep the more advanced dancers in mind by having the guest teachers present a range of stuff, including some more difficult dances which the less experienced dancers might not get. And we have a request list at the evening parties, where people can ask for more esoteric dances.
Occasionally there have been problems with the music classes. Of course, when there is a really well known teacher, people want as much exposure to that teacher as possible. We have had years when many of the advanced fiddlers were coming to the intermediate fiddle class. The intermediates would start to feel a bit intimidated and the teacher would tend to go faster than was good for them. So I instituted a policy that musicians for any given instrument can come to as many of the classes given for that instrument as possible, but they are only to play in one of them. In all the others they can bring their tape recorder, they can listen, but they are there as auditors and they should let the people who are at that level be the ones who actually play. So that is how I've tried to address the problem. There are some people who choose to ignore it and then there are others who get upset because they're being good and following the rules and a few individuals aren't. I deal with those situations on an ad hoc basis. For the most part it has worked out pretty well. I would say that most people are basically supportive, understand why we are doing this, and are willing to follow the rule.
What are some of the challenges that you face in running this kind of camp?
There are the organizational challenges: trying to get the flyer out on time; dealing with the various special needs of people coming to camp. Judy is very good at this and does the lion's share of the organizing. There has been the on-going challenge of trying to get the parties just right. The people who come to Scandia Week tend to be fairly quiet. These are not necessarily "party types" and so we are always trying to figure out good ways to make the parties lively. It's also a big challenge to try to give playing time to all the different musicians but also give them enough time to build up a head of steam. And how do you include all the different dances that people want to do? There has always been a discussion between the dance teachers about how long we are going to make the sets during the evening parties. We have settled upon a half an hour to be about right. We break the dance evenings into different specific sets: one for dances being taught by the Swedish couple, a set of those dances being taught by the Norwegian couple, a request Swedish set and a request Norwegian set, and a set for the Gammaldans band during which everybody can play. We recently instituted a showcase set, where we ask one of the musicians on staff to play solo or with one or two other people. This gives the dancers the pleasure of dancing to really wonderful music without a massive sound which tends to be less refined.
What else are you doing with Scandinavian music currently?
One of the interesting things for me is that I have so many students out here in the Bay Area, nine at last count! At home I normally don't have any students, but I do organize a spelmanslag, which is called Rumpetroll. We have about eight people in the group, mostly fiddlers, with one guitarist. We have been playing together for about ten years, ever since I moved to Lansing. The group actually existed even before I got there. It was called Swedes for a Day. It was run by Allison Hedlund, who moved out to Seattle just before I came to the area. We practice every other Monday. I usually teach them one new tune each time and we also work on old ones. We go around the circle so that everybody gets to request a tune. After we play it, I do a critique and we go over selective parts that need work. We've played around the state doing both dances and concerts.
On the alternate Mondays, Judy and I have been running a Scandinavian dance class. It's quite small with under ten people. Now that we have moved down to Ann Arbor, we are hoping that it will get bigger.
The other group that I'm involved with regularly is Galatá, which is a trio that I have with Judy, who plays santouri (a Greek version of the hammer dulcimer) and Chris Rietz, who plays plucked strings of all varieties. I think that we are the only group in the world with the combination of nyckelharpa, santouri, and mandocello. We play the Scandinavian and Bulgarian stuff for me, the Greek stuff for Judy, and Chris likes it all. We've been together over two years, and have started performing out of state, for example in Chicago and Madison. Last year we were the featured band at Texas Camp (an international folk dance camp over Thanksgiving). We play mainly for dancing, but are starting to do more concerts and festivals. We'll be starting work on a CD when I return to Michigan.
Is that your main Balkan music outlet right now, or do you have another outlet for gûdulka?
That's the main opportunity I have to play gûdulka. Two summers ago I lived in Bulgaria for a month with my gûdulka teacher Atanas Vûlchev. That was quite intense. I have been working madly at it ever since. I will be teaching at Balkan Camp this summer on the East Coast.
How do you juggle the different instruments?
Very carefully! It can be a bit of a problem trying to keep four or five instruments going at any sort of good level. What often happens is that there will be some event coming up that will focus me on a particular instrument. So if its a nyckelharpastämma, I will be playing nyckelharpa intensely for a week or so before. Or if I know I will be playing at a camp where Bulgarian music is being featured the gûdulka will get precedence for awhile. It's cyclical and I definitely do not try to play all the instruments at any one time. I wouldn't have time to really get into any of them.
How did your recording Spelstundarna come into being?
Judy and others had been urging me to make a recording for years, but I didn't have a fiddle partner close enough to do one. Andrea (Hoag) and I had always enjoyed playing with each other but we basically would see each other only once a year at camp. Once Andrea moved out to the Washington DC area, we decided that the two of us should really make a recording together. Before we did, though, Andrea and I went to Northern Week, Jay Ungar's camp, where we met this fellow, Larry Robinson, who plays bouzouki, and had never played Scandinavian music before. It was uncanny how he picked it up. I thought that I was playing with Ale Möller by the end of the week. I was so excited about finding him that I decided that he should join Andrea and I on the recording. Andrea eventually became enthusiastic about the idea, too. Larry happened to live pretty close to Andrea in the Washington DC area.
We started sending tapes back and forth in the mail, and discussing tunes over the phone. Then I took a winter break, went down there and intensively made the whole recording in a matter of a couple of weeks. On a typical day we got up, had breakfast, had a practice session, had lunch, then went over to the studio to lay down some tracks, had dinner, and then went back home to practice some more. We got up the next day and did some permutation of that all over again. It was quite wonderful and quite rewarding. I have been very happy with both the recording and the response that it has gotten: we are now in our second printing.
For my next album with Galatá we already have several ideas. For example, going from Ola Bäckström's Balkanpolska into a Daichovo, since they have essentially the same rhythm. I'd play both of them on gûdulka, of course. Or doing one of the Bach three-part inventions on nyckelharpa, santouri, and mandocello. It's definitely going to be pushing the envelope. We have also taken the tune Istanbul, which is on the På Tre Man Hand recording and was composed while they were in Turkey, and added a santouri taxim in the beginning to give it more of a Turkish flavor. There would also be some traditional Scandinavian, Greek, and Bulgarian bits. I definitely want to lay down a few Scandinavian tunes with me double-tracked playing first and second parts.
Tell me about the Scandinavian Discussion Group?
Judy and I thought it would be wonderful if there were some way that we could keep the community spirit present at camp going throughout the year. We had had some long discussions with Karin and David Code about this. People from the Eastern European Folklife Center had already started an email list for the discussion of Balkan music and dance issues and news about Balkan Camp. Why not start one for Scandinavian music and dance? So we finally did. At first people seemed a bit reticent to post anything except announcements of upcoming events. There weren't really any discussions about general issues like: What are the dance trends in Scandinavia? Does anybody know where this tune comes from? What is the history behind a particular dance? Recently things have become much more interesting. If people want to subscribe they should send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org saying : subscribe scand your email address ("your email address" should be replaced by your actual address)
At this point, Bruce and I stopped to get some burritos before going to the Thursday night dance where we played for part of the evening. Its been a great pleasure for me and the Bay Area Scandinavian dance and music community to have Bruce living here these past few months. Once he returns to Michigan in May, I'm sure that we will miss him, his music and his infectious enthusiasm.
In Memorial to Dan Steinberg
by Fred Bialy
On March 17, 1997, Dan Steinberg died peacefully at his home in Livermore, almost two years after first being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dan was not one to face terminal illness, or life, passively. This was clear from the energy and tenacity with which he researched his disease and continued, after his diagnosis, to pursue many interests dear to his heart, including Scandinavian dancing. He lived much longer than any of his physicians could have predicted and stayed relatively vigorous until the last few weeks of his life. On February 13, he was still able to celebrate his 62nd birthday by coming to the Thursday night Scandiadans class (it turned out to be his last time there).
I knew Dan exclusively through our mutual interest in Scandinavian music and dancing. We talked the last two years mainly about medical issues: the many phone calls to pancreatic cancer researchers around the country, the treatments he was considering, his initial frustration upon realizing that he was coming to know more about pancreatic cancer than most of the physicians that he looked to for guidance. I did not know him well. I wish that I had known him better. It is just in the last few months that I have come to learn more about Dan and appreciate how generous he was of his time, spirit and energy to family, friends, community, and even strangers in need of help that he was in a position to provide.
An obituary in the Livermore Independent on March 26, provided many details about Dan's life: He was born in 1935 in Washington D.C. He grew up playing the violin, eventually winning several musical competitions and giving a solo recital in Constitution Hall. At one point he considered a career as a professional musician, but instead went on to study physics, first as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, then as a graduate student at Harvard where he earned his doctorate in 1961. In 1962, he settled in Livermore when he started working for the Lawrence Livermore Lab. He quickly became active in the community. He helped to found the Livermore-Amador Symphony and served as its first concertmaster. Over the next 35 years he participated in almost every local political campaign and helped with fund-raising, petitioning, and precinct walking for numerous causes such as the Valley Memorial Hospital, school bonds, and fair housing ordinances. He helped migrant farm workers and Russian immigrants by collecting donations of food, clothing and furniture (that would periodically fill up his garage). He became a member of and supported more than 100 charitable, public service, cultural, and religious organizations because of a deep desire to make the world a better place in every way. When Dan became concerned that annual fund raising drives at the Lab rarely benefited needy groups in the Livermore area, he originated the idea for the Lab's HOME (Helping Others More Effectively) campaign which channeled funds directly to local organizations. Since its inception in 1975, the HOME campaign has grown each year to a record $785,150 in 1996.
As a scientist, Dan participated in organizations and conferences all over the world. His career culminated in the development of "Steinberg's Blue Book," an internationally respected reference book for strength measures of materials under high pressure. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was recently elected one of only three honorary members of DYMAT, the European High Pressure Physics Society. Dan volunteered his time and scientific expertise to researching problems in clinical medicine. His efforts helped to improve the effectiveness of lithotripsy and made it possible to calculate the probability of certain congenital birth defects. He also exhaustively researched the world literature on McCune-Albright disease, determining that it did not make his youngest daughter's hoped for pregnancy medically contraindicated. As a result, Dan became the proud grandfather of a robustand healthy boy. He also contributed to the formation of a national support organization for people with diseases characterized by growth retardation. He has counselled numerous families with medical questions and concerns similar to those that he and his own family had had, even answering such calls during his final weeks of life.
After retiring from the Lab in 1993, Dan found more time for community activism. He did one-on-one tutoring in the Joe Michell School phonics program, thereby enabling a number of poor readers to achieve grade level status. He also volunteered to be a visiting science teacher for rural schools in the San Joaquin Valley. Through participatory experiments and hands-on activities, he introduced hundreds of children to everything from fossils to astronomy. Shortly before his death, many of his young students sent drawings and letters with words of concern and encouragement to "Dr. Dan, the Science Man." Dan's efforts up until the last month of his life prompted many teachers to write admiringly of his willingness, in spite of his terminal illness, to expend so much of his remaining time and energy giving to others. They called his example "inspirational." At Dan's funeral, his oldest daughter Debra asked that people remember and honor Dan by following his example of community activism and to think of him as they give of their own time and energy.
For years, Dan was a regular at the Thursday night Scandinavian dance class as well as the monthly Mill Valley dances, periodic workshops, and the annual Mendocino Scandia Camp. Shortly after his death, participants at the Thursday night class shared with each other some memories and impressions about Dan. Dan was always very precise about his dancing and a fast learner. Frank said he could rely on Dan for help with steps that he could not remember exactly. Dan also seemed to have boundless energy and made an effort to dance with every woman present at an evening party or other dance event. Susie said Dan was playful with his dancing and would try to surprise her with an unexpected move. Al remembers Dan's impeccable honesty. You always knew how Dan felt or thought about something. His willingness to talk openly about the ups and downs of living with cancer was at times uncomfortable for some listeners, but it made his particular situation and universal issues about disease and mortality easier to contemplate.
According to Dan's wife Susan, Dan's biggest regret was that he would not get to see his grandchildren grow up. There are now three in his family: Rachel Eliana, Joshua Robert and Chana Leah. Dan is also survived by his wife Susan, daughters Debra Schuraytz and Lisa Herzog, and sons-in-law Ben Schuraytz and Dennis Herzog. At the time of his funeral, the family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Hope Hospice, 6500 Dublin Blvd., Suite 100, Dublin, CA, 94568-3151.