Winter and music in Denmark: Helene Blum

Winter may be a time of cold, crisp nights and frosty clear days, a time of blowing snow and howling wind, a time of appreciating the winter’s snow filled landscapes and of enjoying the warmth of fireside just as much. All these aspects of winter come into play in the music Helene Blum has chosen and created for her album Liden Sol.

Blum is from Denmark, so she knows a thing or two about winter. “I live in a big forest,” she says, “so I experience the soul of nature at close quarters. Winter makes a big impression. It is strong a beautiful, but it can also cause enormous difficulties if, as happened to us on a Christmas tour one year, you run into a seemingly unending blizzard between two concerts in Denmark and Germany…”

Blum has turned those winter experiences to good use, choosing texts and songs from Danish writers past and present, along with songs from Denmark’s folk tradition and melodies and songs she has written herself. The title tune, Liden Sol, whose title translates as Little Sun, is a contemplative look of winter’s quieter side sparely presented through just voice and guitar, while It is White Outside, with lyrics from nineteenth century Danish poet Bilcher and melody from Blum’s husband, fiddle player and composer Harald Haugaard, brings the listeners into a storm of snow. Julevise 1862 finds Blum and Haugaard devising a new setting for a traditional Danish song of winter, which celebrates the joys and festivities of winter holidays, both public and in the family. The remaining tracks are equally winter engaged, and equally diverse.

Blum is well qualified to handle such diversity. Drawn to music at an early age and skilled on several instruments, she chose to focus on singing, and also to follow her love of Danish history, stories , and folk tales. Bringing these together, Blum became the first singer with a focus on folk music to graduate from Denmark’s prestigious Carl Nielsen Academy of Music. Her first album won a DNA folk Grammy award, and her holiday tours across Europe as well as her festival appearances in other parts of the world are always well respected and enjoyed.

Blum’s voice may remind you a bit of of Alison Krauss or Claire Lynch, and though she sings in Danish, it’s easy to understand why audiences across Europe, Asia, and North America find Blum’s work engaging. She finds it engaging to share her heritage and her music, as well.

“Few things are as essential to me as the whole Danish treasury of song,” Helene Blum says. “It’s a wonderful mirror of our language, the times we live in, our roots, and not least, the nature we are surrounded by. It is for me an eternal source of inspiration.”

You might also want to

Listen to an excerpt from the song
Glade Jul from one of Blum’s Christmas albums. I think you’ll recognize the melody

Join Perceptive Traveler Brian Spencer for a winter visit to one of Copenhagen’s icons

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