The Setesdal folk music scene is in many ways unique in a national context. There is an unbroken tradition of folk tunes played on Hardanger fiddle and Jew’s harp. The same applies to the staves and folk dances. For many of today’s performers this knowledge has been passed on from the older generation – but also from workshops and courses. And for a long time the traditional tunes and dances from Setesdal have been performed by highly skilled and renowned artists.
Folk music is one of the Setesdal «brands»; something people expect to meet on their journey through the valley – and which they often get a chance to do, as a number of such cultural events are being held.
This cultural heritage is listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Read The New York Times travel report from July 24 2019.
“Sæbyggjan” is a group consisting of young, talented folk musicians and dancers from Setesdal.
During the summer, some members of this group, known as Kulturpatrulja («the Culture Patrol»), gives free concerts and performances at various spots in Setesdal. The concerts last about half an hour and give you a small impression of the rich cultural heritage conveyed by these young artists.
Time and place for these events to be found on information boards and will be updated on this web site.
Sylvartun is located approximately 4 kilometres north of Rysstad. Founded in 1961, this was the most important arena for silverwork and folk music in Setesdal for more than 40 years. The Bjørgum silver was said to be of the utmost quality, and an encounter with the owner of Sylvartun – the fiddler, silversmith and cultural ambassador Torleiv H. Bjørgum – made a lasting impression on many visitors. Having been closed since 2010, the former art and cultural centre has once more opened its doors. There is no longer a silversmith’s workshop on the premises, but the folk music is still alive. Sylvartun is run by the Setesdal Museum and is called a centre for intangible cultural heritage. Through exhibitions of traditional musical instruments, audio and video recordings, the guests are taken on a journey into the world of folk music.
Sylvartun is open daily from 11.00 to 17.00 during the period 24 June to 11 August. There is no cafeteria, but this is a perfect spot for a picnic break.
Every summer the Setesdal Folk Music Contest takes place in Rysstad. Coordinated by the local organization Setesdal Spelemannslag, the contests, concerts and workshops include a number of top names from the Norwegian folk music scene. Normally, the event is held in the weekend at the turn of the month July and August (05.-07. August 2022).
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