Anders Heldal (1811–1897) has been regarded as the foremost fiddle maker in Western Norway in the 19th century. He had a large production of Hardanger fiddles and has been considered a continuator of the fiddles made by Isak Botnen (1669–1759). In addition, he repaired and rigged fiddles for many of the leading musicians and violinists of the time. In connection with repairs, he often assembled parts from various instruments, used parts from older instruments in his own fiddles or made new parts for older fiddles, without this being stated on the repair note. To try to describe what characterizes Heldal’s Hardanger fiddle production, I have reviewed and examined a larger selection of fiddles that were either signed by Heldal or were considered Heldal fiddles in connection with the Hardanger fiddle project in 1990s. I have measured and examined the size and shape of his fiddles, described important aspects of the construction of the fiddles, as well as identified and classified key decorative elements. On this basis, I have tried to find out and describe to which extent his fiddles continued the 18th century Hardanger fiddle types from Western Norway and especially Isak Botnen’s fiddles. Finally, I have discussed what place Anders Heldal deserves in the historical development of the Hardanger fiddle in the 19th century.
My conclusion is that Anders Heldal in several areas represents a clear continuation of the Hardanger fiddles made by Isak Botnen. Heldal’s fiddles are most similiar to Isak Botnen’s fiddles in the decor, especially when it comes to the fiddle head, the lines on the edges, the use of a center rose on the top, and the design of the fingerboard and string holder. If, on the other hand, we look at the size, shape and construction, the fiddles made by Johannes Bårdsen Tveit (1786–1847) have as much in common with Isak Botnen’s fiddles as Heldal’s instruments.
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Opphavsrett 2022 Bjørn Aksdal