The magic of a true Norwegian "spellemann" (fiddler) has seldom been presented in a more convincing way. Tron Steffen Westberg throws the spell of generations on every listener who dares to come close enough, and he demonstrates the rhythmical and emotional powers of traditional Norwegian folk music to the very limit. In old times it sometimes happened that fiddlers could become so consumed by their own playing that they frightened their audiences out of their wits. In such cases the fiddle had to be taken away from the performers by force! Westberg has got that same power in his playing, but no one should ever be allowed to take the instrument away from him!

1 Finnleken i Brekken [pols]
"Finn" is the local term for a Lapp in the Røros district. This pols-dance in addition to several other traditional tunes has a title related to the Lapp society in Røros.

2 Bortover all vei [pols]
A pols learnt from Jørgen Tamnes (1915-2000). Jørgen learnt this tune from Johannes Ingebriktsvoll (1899-1986) also called Marta-Johannes.

3 Møllerleken [pols]
This tune got its name after the fiddler Fredrich Cristophersen Møller (1793-1876) from Djupsjølia near Røros. By the way he was the brother of my grandgrandgrandgrand great-grandfather.

4 Stabbmarsj etter Henning Trøen
This is a characteristic march that was played the second day of a wedding celebration in connection with the "stabbdans". When the newly married couple had been on the chopping block and danced the wedding pols, other potential couples also had to go on the chopping block. During this ritual this march was played.

5 Leken hass Nils Toresa [pols]
Nils Toresen Mestvedhagen (1847-1897) was from Nøren at Os in Østerdalen and he sang this pols often. Han got married at the farm Røkbuvoll near lake Aursunden, and he later took the name of the farm as his surname.

6 Pols etter Henning Trøen
Henning Jonssen Nordbrekken (1834-1917), called Henning Trøen, probably is the most important bearer of local music traditions in Brekken. He taught the greater part of his repertory to Anders Sjøvoll (1883-1975) who in turn brought this material to members of Brekken Spellmannslag. It is said about Henning Trøen that his playing style was so fierce and animated that no one managed to sit still when he was playing. It is maintained that at weddings where many of the most clever and gifted fiddlers in the district were present, Henning Trøen was the "worst" of them all.

7 Mårråslek II [pols]
A collective term for tunes in uptuned third-octave band (A major) – "morning tune". These were usually played very early in the morning to change the mood of the play and keep the guests awake.

8 Trollpols
This pols I learnt from an old recording with Jørgen J. Kverneng (1890-1972) and Erling P. Opphus (1879-1971). This pols is played in the somewhat unusual "blue-tuned" way (GDAD).

9 Leken hass Anders Ols [pols]
Anders O. Nordbrekken (1877-1966) came from Brekken and liked to call himself Litjbrekkingen. Later he settled at Kokkvollen near Aursunden. He played the harmonica and probably liked this pols very much.

10 Rameslått II [gangar]
Gangar after Torleiv H. Bjørgum

11 Ruske-Sara [springar]
Springar learnt in Bø.

12 Tjugedalaren [springar]
Springar after Bjarne Herrefoss.

13 Pols med promenade
This pols can be traced back to Jørgen Andersen Nordbrekken (1732-1819) who is the first fiddler in Brekken explicitly mentioned by name. Here played with Magne Haugom and Jan Frostvoll.

14 Mårråslek III [pols]
Played together with Magne Haugom and Jan Frostvoll.

15 Når Klemmit’n va kømmen i storform [pols]
Ola Klemmetvoll (1871-1948) was a grandchild of Sulhusgubben, Ole Henriksen Sulhus (1811-1897), and he was the connecting link between his grandfather and Peder Nyhus (1905-1994). Peder Nyhus has been the most important bearer of the Glåmos tradition in modern time with his son Sven Nyhus (1932-). Klemmit’n used to play this pols when he was in a good mood.

16 Pols etter Post-Anders
Anders Sjøvoll (1883-1975), called Post-Anders, has been the link between the older fiddlers in Brekken like Henning Trøen and Elva-karan – and also some members of Brekken Spellmannslag. Some tape recordings of Post-Anders from the 1950s and 1960s have been the sources to many of the pols tunes I play, and this is one of them.

17 Stabbmarsj etter Henning Trøen

18 Pols etter Ola Elven
Ola Elven (1874-1959) is also an important tradition bearer in Brekken. Anders Sjøvoll described Ola as the best fiddler ever fostered in Brekken. Ola often played with his cousin Hans Elven (1873-1966). Ola played "graint" (high) and Hans "groft" (low).

19 Nordafjells [gangar]
Gangar after Torleiv H. Bjørgum.

20 Skuldalsbruri [gangar]
Gangar after Bjarne Herrefoss.

21 Fjellrosa [springar]
Springar after Bjarne Herrefoss.

22 Pols etter Ola Elven

23 Hjulmakarlek I [pols]
In Brekken this is one of two pols tunes by the name Hjulmakarlek. This one is played on a "trollstemt" fiddle, learnt from a recording with Anders Sjøvoll. These pols tunes probably originate from the fiddler Hjulmakar-Jo from Rugldalen. He often played with Sulhusgubben and Ellev Holm (1812-1890). In his turn Ellev Holm played a good deal with Henning Trøen, and in this way these fiddle tunes most likely have reached Brekken.

24 Kjostadlek II [pols]
Sven Nyhus learnt the four Kjostad tunes from Henrik Møllmann (1883-1972) in 1952. There is a recording from 1959 of one of the tunes with Jørgen Kverneng and Erling Opphus, and Henrik Møllmann played some with these two musicians. Here played with Jan Frostvoll.

25 Milla Abrahamsvolla og Køråsvollom [pols]
Sulhusgubben probably made this pols on a summer’s morning in the 1840s somewhere between these two mountain farms near Aursunden. The point is being made that this is the same tune as the one called "Bortover all vei" in Brekken.

26 Brekkmarsjen
This is a local bridal march from Brekken, during recent years called Brekkmarsjen. Here it is played on the Hardanger fiddle accompanied by Johs. Grue on the baroque organ in Røros Church.

Tron Westberg (1968-) from Brekken, 2,2 miles northeast of Røros, has since the middle of the 1980s been one of the most high-profiled performing artists of folk music among the young musicians in Norway. He started to play the fiddle in 1978 and attended a course lead by Annar Gjelten in Brekken. Later on he got some more training with the Brekken Spell- og Danselag, a song- and dancing team where he still is a member. He learnt many country airs from the elderly musicians there, and in particular Jørgen Tamnes influenced his repertory and playing style quite a lot. In the last few years he has also learnt airs from Harald Gullikstad – in addition to older recordings made in the Røros district.

It became obvious early in his career that he had a talent out of the ordinary as a fiddler – especially when playing the Røros-pols – and people often got carried away at concerts and kappleiker. At the same time he became much in demand as a dance fiddler. TW made his first appearance in 1980 at Distriktskappleiken in Hamar. After several years with very good results in the C-class, he advanced to the elite A-class on ordinary fiddle during Landskappleiken in 1987. In the1990s TW achieved remarkable results both in district- and national contests. In 1991 he won the fiddle class at Distriktskappleiken at Vinstra, and at Oppdal in 1999 he won Landskappleiken as well as "The King’s Cup".

Beside his career as a solo fiddler TW has also played in different ensembles. Locally he has been performing a great deal with Jan Frostvoll and Magne Haugom, and together they have won many first prizes at several kappleiker. Westberg is also a member of Småviltlaget, one of Norway’s best old-time music orchestras. For a period he was the musical leader of Brekken Spellmannslag.

When he was a student at Bø in Telemark 1990-1993 TW started to play the Hardanger fiddle, and he was fascinated by the play of the fiddler Bjarne Herrefoss. The fiddler Torleiv H. Bjørgum from Setesdal also had a vigour in his playing that appealed strongly to Westberg. People present at the final competition at Landskappleiken at Oppdal in 1999 will never forget TWs daring and intense interpretation of the gangar "Nordafjells" after Torleiv Bjørgum.

In 1996 TW received Asmund Bjørkens Prize. The following year he won Sagaprisen. Later he received a working scholarship from the Norwegian Rådet for folkemusikk og folkedans as well as a two year working scholarship from Statens kunstnerstipend. Today Westberg is one of Norway’s most prominent fiddlers, and he has a big and enthusiastic audience who has for a long time been looking forward to a CD release with his music.

Bjørn Aksdal, Trondheim, 2001

 

 

Tron Steffen Westberg - fiddle
Bortover all vei…

Tron Steffen Westberg is a rare, one of a kind soulful musician. Not many of our most prominent folk musicians can boast such an honourable mention. This is about an artistic quality by many people considered the most outstanding within an art or musical expression. The fiddler TW has on several occasions showed that in his finest moments he is able to perform his music so strongly that the audience is totally carried away. This ability was perhaps more common in the past; we have heard about fiddlers who became so ecstatic in their playing that the listeners were frightened and had to take the instrument from the fiddler by force.

Everyone that listened to his performance of "Nordafjells" at Landskappleiken at Oppdal in 1999, will probably remember this for the rest of their lives. Tron was so inspired and the atmosphere in the hall so electric, that many of the listeners were taken aback from the very start. Tron gave everything. The applause afterwards would never end, and everyone realized they had experienced something quite out of the ordinary. Tron himself also knew that he had succeeded to his full potential that day. To reproduce such a magic atmosphere on a record is near to impossible. Strictly speaking this is an art of the moment capturing everyone present there and then. And this is a hallmark of great performers – their ability and prowess to bring forth their best in front of an audience.

Ordinarily Tron is a modest and prudent guy. No big gestures – he could just as well keep silent as he could talk. Even so he is well-informed about everything going on in society in general, and he has extra good knowledge of historical facts about the local music and local folk musicians. I got a good example of this when I once travelled by car all the way round lake Aursunden in company with Tron. He had something to relate about almost every farm. This is his realm; his roots are here. He knows the people who have collected and developed the airs, and he is sincerely fond of the nature and the people here. He enjoys outdoor life, hunting and fishing in the wide open mountain landscape in Brekken.

The love of nature and country air music are often different views of the same matter. My experience with mountain people is that they are very much alike wherever you go. Even if you travel to another part of the country, people from these areas easily find each other. The cue is the nearness to the mountain landscape. The mind of the farmer living in the lowland is engaged with totally different things, and this is reflected in the local music.

Tron's trademark number one is the way he is playing the old pols dances. He really feels at home in this music and mobilizes lots of surplus energy. In instigating rhythm and juicy, two-string play he reflects an optimistic attitude towards life in general and national character – it is strong and intense, characterised by many generations' hard work. This is life after work when they met to dance out their concern and joy. It is not easy to translate this into a contemporary expression in our time’s abundance society. But Tron also has experienced pain and hardship in life, so he has a broad register of emotions to draw from in his play. And he knows how to make the most of it.

Then we must not forget that he is an excellent dancer. I remember very well when he lived in Bø and was going to learn how to play the telespringar. Almost immediately he got a good grip on the rhythm and was soon dancing with the girls as an experienced dancer. In a similar way he was fascinated by the Hardanger fiddle and discovered his idols in this field. The music of Setesdal naturally captivated Tron as a rhythmic musician, but not only that – he was equally impressed by the play of Telemark’s by far the most soulful fiddler – Bjarne Herrefoss. In his play Tron found inspiration and a very special ambience. In many ways he resembles him, too. At their very best they make you forget everyone and everything, and they know what it means to give of themselves both as a musician and a human being.

Kjell Bitustøyl, Bø i Telemark, 2002

 

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