February 28, 2004


Last night I attended an interesting lecture given by Roberta Frank, a former professor of mine. The talk was entitled “Not Much is Worse than a Troll”: A Norse Poem from Medieval Orkney and discussed the Old Norse poem Málsháttakvæði (which means ‘proverb poem’). This poem is filled with proverbs such as “Not much is worse than a troll”, “Dragons often rise up on their tail”, “Easily grasped are the crimes of a hog”, “The living man always rejoices in a cow”, and “To love another’s child is to cherish a wolf”. Roberta’s talk stressed the importance of philology and how close attention to language informs our understanding of medieval Northern Germanic literature and culture, and was both interesting and entertaining.

Following the lecture was a reception and then an enjoyable performance of early music from Scandinavia by Ensemble Polaris. Among the many talented musicians in Ensemble Polaris are the multitalented Kirk Elliott, who played violin, harp, bowed psaltery, accordion, and Swedish bagpipes, and Ben Grossmann, who played the hurdy gurdy and jew’s harp. I always enjoy hearing unusual and/or early music instruments being performed. The performance was recorded by CBC Radio 2 for future broadcast on Music Around Us, so give it a listen when it comes up.

All in all, a nice way to spend an evening.

Posted by Mark at February 28, 2004 12:40 PM

In further small world news (see Madhava’s blog), Ben Grossman is my cousin’s partner. Did you know he played on the Oliver Schroer and the Stewed Tomatoes album?

Posted by: Miriam at February 29, 2004 08:22 PM

To make the world even smaller, Oliver Schroer’s brother Ansgar, a fantastic harmonica player, is in some of the photos from the Hart House Chorus’ black -tie fundraiser that I just posted:


Posted by: Madhava at March 1, 2004 11:21 PM

I was completely unaware of all these connections.

Posted by: Mark at March 3, 2004 01:00 AM