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Fredman's Epistle Nr. 80

( Carl Michael Bellman )

The Swedish poet and singer Carl Michael Bellman (1740 - 1795) was a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Already in his childhood Bellman showed a remarkable talent for singing and presentation. As an adult he sang everywhere, from the Royal Court in Kungliga Slottet in Stockholm till the salons, pubs and brothels in the same city. That’s a bit of a parallel with Mozart indeed!

He wrote about 1700 poems and songs. Many of them were about the daily life with for this era daring lyrics about booze, erotics, death and life’s wisdom. He often presented his songs in a tragicomical or even parodic way.

Bellman accompanied himself on a Centrina - a kind of eleven string lute - and caught all kinds of catchy tunes for his songs. He did not compose himself, but he had a perfect sense for the right melody with his songs and a lot of friends who could help him with the music.

Thus many of his songs are set to popular melodies from his time. These melodies are part of Sweden’s cultural heritage and even popular in our days! The songs are simple yet catchy. The Dutch singer Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937 - 1987) who whas quite popular in Sweden recorded a few of Bellman’s songs.

Bellman’s songs are mainly passed down in two collections, Fredman’s Epistles (1790) and Fredman’s Songs (1791). The clockmaker Fredman was one of the main character’s from his songs.

This duo, Fredman’s Epistle Nr. 80 is a simple but very effective duo that is fun to play. The song is titled Liksom en Herdinna, ’like a Sheperdess’ It must be a parody of some kind because the prostitute Ulla Winblads is the main character in the song. The song starts poetically with a beautiful description of summer and ends joyfully when the drunk Ulla starts making out with one of the guys in the pub.

The Danish guitarist Hans Ovesen made the arrangement. It is published here by his friendly courtesy.