Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Swedish mystery solved!

We have now solved the name of the mystery Swedish tune Sam Pirt recorded here for Black Diamond Accordions. The only thing that Sam could remember about learning the tune was that it was on a course in the early 90s, which he attended with a young Tim Van Eyken .

Juliet tweeted Tim Van Eyken to ask him if he recalled the tune, and he graciously replied that it was called "Der Stod en Jungfru", which my trusty Google Translation Tool converted to "There stood a maiden". Bingo! Tim has recorded this song too, and even sang the first verse in Swedish!

I then handed the whole thing over to my Scandinavian consultant Bente, and she came up with this. The song was written in 1885 by John Enninger, and Bente very kindly translated this biography :

John Enninger of Höor, Sweden (1844-1908)

John Enninger can be counted amongst the forerunners when it comes to the folk music of Skåne. 20 years before Nils Andersson started his collection and compilation work, Enninger had already started laying the foundation for the large collection he left behind upon his death and which ended up comprising about 2000 tunes. He started his collection work under the best of auspices. In the 1860s and 1870s there were still excellent musicians, ballad singers and ........., and the old songs and tunes still lived on with these musicians. Enninger himself came from a family of musicians, his father and brothers were distinguished fiddle and clarinet players, and his mother like the older female members of his family were good singers. Already as a child he helped play for weddings and dances, and through the close contact with other musicians that originated from this his lifelong interest in this type of music was kindled and later strengthened when he himself went on to learn to play the fiddle.

John Enninger, whose real name was Jöns Persson, was born in Kvärlöv, Annelöv parish, on 3rd January 1844. His father, Pehr Olsson, born in Annelöv in 1811, was a competent fiddler in his own right and on top of this was capable of reading notes. His mother, Hanna Jönsdotter, born in Norrvindinge in 1817, was musically inclined and sang a lot. Two brothers, Lars Persson, born 1854, and Olof Persson, who like Jöns both later took the name Enninger for their family name, were also musically inclined and started helping their father play for weddings and dances at an early age. Those two both became organists: Lars Enninger in Stoby - on top of this he was musical director with the infantry regiment of Norra Skåne and a distinguished clarinettist - and Olof Enninger in Röddinge and Ramsåsa.

Enninger received his first musical tuition from his father. When he was 11, he was sent to a notorious fiddler in Barsebäck, the soldier Per Munkberg, who was renowned and widely known as an excellent fiddler. After his stay with Munkberg, Enninger took lessons from first the organist Bengt Vilhelm Hallberg in Landskrona and then he became a student at the Conservatory of Music in Stockholm from 1868-1874. From 1870-72 he was music master of the theatre Mindre teatern. In 1883 he was appointed cantor and organist in Höor and Munkarp, a position he held until his death in 1908. During the 1800s and later he often gave concerts, often classical and often assisted by Wilhelm Heintze, organist to the cathedral in Lund, but usually with a selection of folk tunes or ballads mixed in, all arranged by himself. Several suites for fiddle and piano - all of them with roots in the folk music - have been arranged by Enninger, and a range of tunes have been published in various magazines.

Enninger's prowess as an interpreter of folk tunes was, according to testimonies by his contemporaries, masterly. "When Enninger played", writes one of those who had heard him, "God's angels in heaven smiled. The sick forgot their pains, and ancient people got up and danced. Enninger's music was a wonder. He didn't just use his technical musical skills, which were impressive, he also added his deep musical insight."

The collection that Enninger left behind contains, apart from the multitude of tunes he himself recorded and collected, a large number of handwritten tunes from various parts of Skåne. A selection of 181 tunes - polskas, waltzes, quadrilles and other dances of various kinds together with ballads and hymns - are presented here. The notes accompanying the tunes which are signed with a 'J.E.' are from Enninger's hand.

(Source: Swedish tunes - Skåne)

If you're interested in the life of Enninger, we recommend you read the book 'John Enninger: spelman, kongl. kammarmusikus, klockare' by Elisabeth Wentz-Janacek (2003) from which the following quote is extracted: 'Jöns Persson from Qvärlöf died Saturday 14th November 1908 and was buried in the Hörs cemetery.'

In his first will and testament dated 11th December 1905, Enninger left detailed instructions as to where he wanted to be buried, what stone to erect etc.

In Höor a street has been named after him.

So thanks, Tim, for solving the mystery. It is a great tune, clearly the most popular of the four that Sam recorded for us.

We can't change the opening sequence of the video itself now, but we have added the name to the title of the youtube track.


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