Born in the summer of 2018 in small wooden workshop in Lviv in western Ukraine she is nothing but a very young lady. She looks the epitome of elegance and like the city she was born in, she is a mix of both past and present as well as east and west. She is a traditional Ukrainian instrument built in a modern, western style.

She is carved out and put together from roughly 150 pieces of reused wood that her builder, Gordiy Starukh, has collected around Lviv. As the artist that he is, he signed his work with ink by hand in a calligraphic style. This is but one of the many distinctive features, that make this particular instrument truly unique - even from others like her.
The hurdy-gurdy in Denmark
A medieval instrument
The earliest proof of the presence of hurdy-gurdies in Denmark is a chalk painting from the 16th century in a church in Rynkeby on the island of Funen. Since then the hurdy-gurdy never received much popularity and far from everyone is even aware of the existence of instrument. Thus, today you have to be extraordinarily lucky to stumble upon a hurdy-gurdy player when wandering the streets of Danish cities. However, in 2016 the first person graduated from the Danish National Academy of Music with the hurdy-gurdy as his main instrument.

Today that hurdy-gurdy player, Nicolas Koch Simms, has played in front of Danish royals, as well as people around Europe at regular concerts as well as Medieval festivals, where the hurdy-gurdy is usually "portrayed" as being a typical medieval instrument.
The renaissance of the hurdy-gurdy in Austria
The renaissance of the hurdy-gurdy in Austria is closely linked to the Viennese lawyer and singer Eberhard Kummer. In the late 1970s, he received a Hungarian hurdy-gurdy, an instrument that was almost forgotten in Austria at this time. He began to play the hurdy-gurdy as an accompanying instrument and adapted the French and Hungarian cranking techniques. At that time Kummer was the first in Austria to reinstating the hurdy-gurdy as a rhythm-giving element, mastering the so-called "Vierschlag", which is a certain kind of beat. He was one of the leading hurdy-gurdy-gurus in Europe. His technique inspired many musicians and his expertise influenced instrument makers. By now there are around 300 hurdy-gurdy-players in Austria.

Wolfgang Weichselbaumer – The master of hurdy-gurdies

One of those 300 hurdy-gurdy-experts is Wolfgang Weichselbaumer. He not only plays the hurdy-gurdy he also builds hurdy-gurdies in his little workshop in the heart of Vienna. He is one of the few, knowing the art of building this old instrument. Wolfgang Weichselbaumer has a very spiritual approach towards music, wood and instruments. Thus every single hurdy-gurdy he makes is one of a kind. His instruments are known for their tone, dynamics, stability and craftsmanship. Hence only view instruments leave Weichselbaumer's workshop every year. Playing and building a hurdy-gurdy requires a lot of skills and intuition for music. The unique bodies of his hurdy-gurdies are made of three different woods. The quality and shape of these woods determine the sound. Based on hurdy-gurdies of the renaissance and baroque, Weichselbaumer has expanded and modified the sound spectrum of his instruments. He developed the adjustable metal tangents and also the movable axle for more possibilities on the instrument. Today his hurdy-gurdies are in demand all over the world. Many of the current hurdy-gurdy players use his instruments, including Valentin Clastrier, Gilles Chabenat, Germán Diaz, Tobie Miller, Matthias Loibner, Ben Grossman, Marc Egea and Hållbus Totte Mattson. Many of the current hurdy-gurdy players use his instruments, including Valentin Clastrier, Gilles Chabenat, Germán Diaz, Tobie Miller, Matthias Loibner, Ben Grossman, Marc Egea and Hållbus Totte Mattson.

The hurdy-gurdy comes in different shapes and forms, but the traditional hurdy-gurdy is related to the violin, with the main difference being that the player uses a turning wheel instead of a bow to produce sound. Besides, the instrument is unique in the way that it also has drone strings which produces a continuous pitch that works as a bass-note and thereby the instrument produces an accompaniment for its own melody not unlike the way that a bagpipe does it. The player plays the melody by pressing down keys, like on a piano, and thereby altering the length of the strings, like on a guitar.

Born into a family of sculptors and artists Gordiy Starukh had never really thought about an alternative to being a sculptor and craftsman himself. Some years ago, Gordiy decided to combine his love of building and shaping with his love of music.TODAY HE MAKES MOST OF HIS LIVING BY HANDCRAFTING HURDY-GURDIES IN HIS GRANDFATHER'S OLD WORKSHOP, THAT HE SHARES WITH HIS BROTHER
Oles Koval
A change of direction

Oles had known Gordiy Starukh for quite a while, when he got his hands on a hurdy-gurdy built in an old soviet factory. The instrument was cumbersome and did not sound very good. He brought it to Gordiy and they decided that they would certainly be able to build a better instrument themselves.

Gordiy was a skilled sculptor and knew how to work with wood, so one day he just started building a hurdy-gurdy. The first one took a couple of years to finish, and when the costumer it was originally built for showed up, he ended up not buying it because it was too bad of an instrument.

However, the instrument was lighter and smaller than the soviet-built hurdy-gurdy, and Gordiy decided to try his way with building more hurdy-gurdies.

"It was clear that with each built hurdy-gurdy he [Gordiy] became better and better. The instruments became more sophisticated and started sounding better."

Oles plays an array of different classical instruments, including the hurdy-gurdy, but today he mainly produces electronic music.

"I studied the classical tradition, but now I'm making electronic music, where I combine these different skills and use it to experiment by for an example modulating the hurdy-gurdy's sounds electronically."

As a musician and assistant artistic director in an important theater Oles has noticed a change in the way that people look at the hurdy-gurdy and other classical instruments.
"10 years ago playing traditional music was not very fashionable - everyone wanted to play rock'n'roll on the guitar. These days instruments like the hurdy-gurdy are becoming more popular again. It's another time."
Oles Koval
Artistic director at the Lviv theater called Les Kurbas.
Gordiy's workshop
Not far from the center of Lviv Gordiy has his workshop. The courtyard is full of different things that testify to the fact that this has been a place where artists have craftsmen have been working for generations.
The sound of hurdy-gurdy in a new area
The band "Lirvak" rehearsing at the Lviv palace of arts
"I live like a free man"
Oleksandr Rezen
Anna Makharadze
Rasmus Schulz
Ambra Schuster
Omelyan Oshchudlyak

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