Wednesday, November 20, 2019

That Fryksdal dance

Sometimes it's just called Fryksdalsdans and sometimes Fryksdalsdans Nr: 2 ... I think the name is down to Ernst Willners' piano version (see below). [Apparently Fryksdalsdans Nr: 1 is a waltz.]

Fryksdalsdans Nr:2 is a popular folk-dance tune in Sweden, and is usually performed with accordions and fiddles. (My own rendition, of course, is on the guitar.)

 YouTube supplies quite a few videos of people dancing to it. Here's just one:

The dance steps are described in the bible of Swedish folk dances, first produced in 1933 for the Svenska Ungdomsringen för Bygdekultur (now known as Svenska Folkdansringen -- the Swedish folk-dance society).

The correct name of the online version is Beskrivning av svenska folkdanser (5th edition, 1964) , Del 1 [Part 1].  Enthusiasts simply call it "the green book" (gröna boken). The description of Fryksdalsdans begins on page 151:

I also found a video of the Benny Andersson Orkester performing the tune in 2003 (a beaming Benny on the accordion)... the Abba man has for a long time championed traditional Swedish music.


Fryksdal is in the NW of Värmland, which along with Dalarna tends to be regarded as the heart of Swedish folk culture.

Fryksdal was a farming and iron mining region. It was depicted by Selma Lagerlöf in Gösta Berlings saga.


[Image source: supplied by Håkan Frykmo to the Facebook group "Svensk folkmusik".]

The tune seems to have taken its present form in the early 20th-century piano arrangement by Ernst Willners, a military bandmaster at Karlstad (the "capital" of Värmland). But some of its elements can be traced back to the start of the 19th century, at least (info from Magnus Gustafsson on the Facebook group "Svensk folkmusik").

Fryksdalsdans Nr:2 is in 2/4 time (it's a "schottis") and is not to be confused with the dance tune Fryksdalspolska, in 3/4 time. The latter supplies the melody for the popular Christmas song Nu är det jul igen, which I expect to sing a few times over the next month or two.


And listen out for Sven-Ingvars' 1985 version, improbably turning the melody to new use..  a novelty schlager song.


The title given here is "Dansen den går på gröna äng" but I think the original title was "Fryksdalsdans 2". Sven-Ingvars are a long-running dance band first formed in 1956 in Slottsbron (Grums, a few miles down the lake from Karlstad). 

Sven-Ingvars' biggest hits were from the 1960s, but the claim in that they were once "supported by" the Beatles is highly dubious. (It doesn't appear in the more detailed Swedish article .) 


But since it's come up, the radio programme supplied as reference for the dubious claim describes the Beatles concert at Sundsta Läroverk in Karlstad on 25th October 1963. However, it makes no mention of Sven-Ingvars. One support act was The Telstars with Mona Skarström (the radio interviewee). The other acts included Ken Levy and the Phantoms (a British band popular in Sweden) and Jack Dailey. The Beatles Bible also mentions "local group" Svend Miller's Popstars, perhaps taken from here, but nowhere else on the internet confirms the existence any band with that name. Could this have been Sven-Ingvars?

The Beatles played two 25-minute concerts, probably the same set-list as for Eskilstuna (below). It was the first date of their whirlwind tour, and the first time they'd played anywhere outside Germany or Britain. (Though they were on Swedish TV the previous night.) Beatlemania was taking off in Britain, and the Beatles had a growing fanbase in Sweden in October 1963. But Mona Skarström gives the impression that the boys from Liverpool were relaxed and approachable.

The next day (Saturday 26th October 1963), the Beatles played two concerts at the Kungliga Tennishallen in Stockholm. They were second on the bill to US band Joey Dee and the Starliters. Also on the bill were Swedish band Jerry Williams with The Violents, and Suzie. 

On Sunday 27th October 1963 they travelled the width of Sweden and played three concerts at the Cirkus in Göteborg. Supporting them were Trio Me' Bumba, Ken Levy and the Phantoms, The Telstars with Mona Skarström, Jerry Williams with The Violents, and Jack Dailey. 

After Sunday's titanic efforts they gave only a single concert at Borås (Borås Hallen at Bockasjogatan) on Monday 28th October. This was the biggest attendance of the tour, around 2500 fans, and the music was almost drowned out by Beatlemania screams. I haven't found a record of who the other acts were at Borås.

 The final concert on this tour was at the Sports Hall in Eskilstuna on Tuesday 29th October 1963. The other acts were Jerry Williams with The Violents, Trio Me’ Bumba, and The Telstars with Mona Skarström. 

The Beatles set for Eskilstuna and maybe all the dates was: 

‘Roll Over Beethoven’
‘Please Please Me’
‘I Saw Her Standing There’
‘From Me To You’
‘A Taste Of Honey’
‘She Loves You’
‘Twist And Shout’
‘Long Tall Sally’

Not bad!

The following July (28-29/7/64) the Beatles played two dates in Stockholm, at the Johanneshovs Isstadion, as part of their world tour. They played two concerts on each night. The other acts were The Kays, The Moonlighters, The Streaplers, Jimmy Justice, The Mascots and The Shanes.

(The information collected here came mostly from The Beatles Bible and beatlesnytt)

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