Peasant Autonomy
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Story 39

Norway – 1906

Piano tuner

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Patrick Nouhailler)


“Give me your Sunday clothes, I have an idea,” Lars Falkenberg says to his companion Knut Pedersen. Together they roam with their duffel bag from one hamlet to another, looking for work on any farm. Knut looks at Lars inquiringly. What does he want with his best clothes? “Yes, my friend, we need money. On the next farm I will ask to tune the piano. So I have to look well-groomed.” Knut was flabbergasted. “You can tune pianos?”

It is autumn now. Everywhere the harvest is already done. There is no work any more for itinerant farm labourers. Lars, indeed, managed to get a piano to tune on a big, luxurious farm. He has a tuning fork with him, and proves to have sharp hearing.
When Knut looks through a window, he understands Lars’ approach. Before he starts tinkering around with a string, he observes quite well in which direction the screw stands, to put it back exactly, when it doesn't work well. In this way the piano at least will not become worse. The genteel farmer's wife is full of admiration.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Thor Edvardsen)


Aimlessly Knut walks around the farm in his worn-out work clothes. His companion gets all the attention. It troubles him. But, Lars has not forgotten him. He arranges an invitation for him to the kitchen for a hearty meal. It is cosy there with the maids, and nice, warm too. At night they sleep up in the hay loft. “I have earned six kroner,” Lars says happily. “Tomorrow, I will ask the farmer's wife to write a reference. That can be useful in the future.”


The book Under the Autumn Star (1906), written by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun, concerns the mental struggle of the main character, but also pictures the life of itinerant farm labourers.

Go to:
= the next page: Weeding the flax field - a village in Flanders, Belgium – 1907, story 40.
= the Table of contents, story 39.