The words for Fanitullen was written around 1850 by Jørgen Moe (1813-1882), a priest and an author. Jørgen Moe travelled across Norway with Peter Chr. Asbjørnsen in the 19th century, gathering Norwegian myths and fairy tales. Their tales of trolls, waterfall wizards (“Fossegrimen”) and wood nymphs (“Huldra”) are now a national treasure.
Fanitullen is the name of one of the most famous norwegian folktunes. It means «The Devil’s Tune», and according to legend, Fanitullen was conceived on a farm in Hol in the valley of Hallingdal in 1724 during a violent and bloody wedding. When one of the participants went to get more mead he saw the Devil himself sit on the barrel playing this tune on his fiddle.
During religious revivals in the 1800s many fiddles (regular and Hardanger) were destroyed or hidden both by fiddlers and laypeople who thought that it would be best for the soul that the fiddles be burned, as it was viewed as a sinful instrument that encouraged wild dances, drinking and fights.
Jørgen Moe (1813-1882)
(Translated to English by Espen Andersen, 2002)