Born in Värmland, Sweden, near the border with Norway, Mats is a renowned fiddler. He was named "Riksspelman" in 1979. He has studied composition at the Norwegian Academy of music in Oslo. He currently works as a soloist, as a member of Groupa, and with Ale Möller and Lena Willemark in the Nordan Project. He has recently finished a solo album for ECM (yet to be released) with assistance from Jonas Simonson and the Cikada Quartet of Norway. His solo album Läckerbiten (Amigo) was nominated for a Swedish Grammy, Mats' 5th Grammy nomination to date!
The next summer, in June of 1979, I competed for the Zornmärket (Zorn Medal). Leif encouraged me to play my melodeon in the competition. My hope was to take the silver medal and win the title of riksspelman ("musician of the realm"). There was one problem: the accordion and melodeon, while not forbidden, were not well respected by Zorn committee. The fiddle, nyckelharpa and other old instruments were OK, but not this hero of the new industrial era. So there had never been an accordionist who had won the silver medal, although a few had tried. Barge Zetterwall, a gifted accordion player (two-row) from the north of Sweden had failed earlier, perhaps because they considered his music (mostly polkas and mazurkas) to be too "modern."
These are typical songs from the 10th to the 20th centuries, polkas, mazurkas, polskas, valses and so on. Many of the tunes are simple and basic, but there are also some crazy ones. What makes this music special is how the songs are played. Oskar was a great master of technique, and he taught us how to bend the phrases with good temperament, humor and a never-ending energy. "Don't play to flat", he used to say, "You have to speak the melody." It is good advice that has helped my playing other kinds of music too; with Groupa, with Ale Möller, Lena Willemark, Tina Johansson and others. It is important to keep the energy, to keep the "play" in the playing music. Humor, lust and seriousness all need to be in the music. This I have learned from the great master Oskar Andersson of Mangskog in Värmland, Sweden. - Mats Edén (May, 1999)
Read a Review of Mats album Lackerbiten
His CDs are available at cdRoots
See also: accordions, Sweden