Jämtland and Mountain Hiking

PB outside his tent during a mountain hike.
PB together with Stockholm friends in 1900 ready for their mountain hike. Photo: Oscar Olsson, Ostersund

It was Alma Arbman, with her vivid descriptions and stories of her homeland up by Storsjön, that made PB so interested in the beautiful nature of the region of Jämtland. He decided to visit Jämtland in summer 1889. Getting to know these young people from Jämtland changed PB's life. In time this contact led him to become a "Jämte", a person from Jämtland. He stayed in touch with Alma Arbman his whole life. Often it was to her that he wrote letters to when he was abroad and when he wanted to talk about his experiences.

PB describes his feelings for Jamtland and his first encounter 1889 in a lecture he gave in 1929.

"I'm speaking from my heart, a heart that is soundly connected to Jämtland, yet it is still filled with almost the same youthful dreamy feeling that I have for my true homeland, after my first visit Jämtland.

August 5, 1889 was the day 40 years ago that I first saw Storsjöbygden (the area arond the lake Storsjön) and while standing in the bow of the small steamer boat Traffic I was seized by the almost overwhelming sight: Oviksfjällens (the mountain range of Oviken) and Åreskutan's big, blue masses in the clear August morning with the shimmering sun plunging out from behind Digernäset's groves and up over, at that time unfamiliar to me, islands and remote forest ridges with misty blue coniferous vegetation."

"The journey, however, was for its time no small achievement. I found myself after comleted music conservatory exams on holiday in my parents' home in the beautiful, lake populated Burträsk in the county of Västerbotten.

To travel from there to Jämtland one first travels 30 km (19 miles) in a horse drawn wagon to the port at Skellefteå, Ursviken, then several hours waiting for the arrival of one of the large Norrbotten boats (this time Piteå) that traffic between Haparanda and Stockholm, then arrive at Sundsvall the following evening, spend the night at a hotel until early in the morning board a train, that takes the day to travel up to Östersund, where onc spends a night in a hotel, rejoicing in all the contemporary amenities."

"The highlight of the stay in Oviken, however, was my first Jämtland mountain hike, organized by Johan Tirén, who wanted to study up in the summer mountain farms, and the company of Johan and his siblings Viktor and Calise. It gave me the opportunity to experience the whole mountain range from Hundshögen to Höglekardalen and Bydalen, which at that time consisted of only three small pastures with accompanying buildings."

Mountain hiking camp at Mieskebäcken.
PB at a mountain hike together with Helga Englund, artist Stina Tirén, actress Tyra Dörrum
Departure from Ljungdalen. Mountain hike.

Mountain hikes in Oviken's mountains

It was in August 1889 that PB came to Jämtland for first time. He became enamored of the mountains. His meeting with Oviken's mountains came to affect his life and his composing.
The experience of Jämtland would become his main source of inspiration. It was during walks in the mountains that PB composed and arranged songs for male choir and mixed quartet. He made sure that his hiking companions could sing, as it was often spontaneous four-part vocal singing during the walks. Sister Gerda, alto, Ellen Hellstrom, soprano (neighbor from Umeå that later married Charles Tirén), her brother Gunnar Hellström, bass (later married to Gerda) and PB himself, tenor.

In his backpack PB always brought poetry books, such as Björnstjerne Björnson. PB often wrote the music to other author's texts, Heidenstam, Strindberg, J. P. Jacobsen, and he always had pencil and paper with him to write down his compositions when melodies came to him.

Hundshögen and Arådalen

Johan Tirén has in several of his paintings reproduced this remarkable and typical alpine scene. And where do one get their fill of all "the healthy suffering" that make a visit to a mountain pasture so delightful:
1) lie in a bed that is too short or a bed of spartan unreal lichen,
2) be woken at 3 in the morning of the hearty mountain farm lass, who with a bang and crash enter with their full pails and begins to curdle the milk for cheese,
3) eat mountain farm food in all conceivable forms and - as I said -
4) make interesting mistakes along the way. "

PB together with their friends from Stockholm. They were boarders at the family Englund/Tirén on Källtorp on the island of Frösö. PB, wife Colliander, Miss Colliander and Mathilda Jungstedt-Reutersvärd in 1906.

PB was a boarder with the family Englund/Tirén in Valla on the island of Frösön, 1895-1914.

PB spent a few years in Dresden in southern Germany 1892-93 (94) where he studied, composed and gave piano lessons to earn income.

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