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We publish four cutting edge books per year in music, culture, and art, in beautifully produced volumes at reasonable prices.

To Be Nothing: Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master


Our books are distributed to the trade by MIT Press, beginning in Spring 2019. Or email us, we’ll get you your books.

To Be Nothing: Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master

Benedicte cover copy.jpg
Benedicte cover copy.jpg

To Be Nothing: Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master


Benedicte Maurseth

A wise book of dialogues between master and student, revealing secrets of one of the world’s most enigmatic musical instruments.

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To Be Nothing
Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master

Benedicte Maurseth

foreword by Jon Fosse

translated from the Norwegian by Bruce Thomson


ISBN 978-1-949597-05-9

5.5 x 8.25 inches

39 color illustrations

246 pages

As a little boy Knut Hamre knocked on the doors of all his neighbors in his village of Granvin in Norway’s Hardanger fjord. He stood before them with his fiddle case in hand. He needed to play, for himself and for the world. Since then he has devoted his life to playing the Hardanger fiddle—a unique folk violin with resonating strings beneath, like a sitar—and to teaching new generations the secrets of this ancient music, rooted in a stark and beautiful land.

Benedicte Maurseth is one of his most accomplished students, an internationally known artist who has recorded for the ECM label. In a book that brings to mind such classics as Zen and the Art of Archery and Wabi / Sabi, the student and her master together explore the quest for excellence and originality in the heart of a living tradition. At once mystical and practical, To Be Nothing is a series of dialogues about music, learning, teaching, the healing power of art, and the art of life itself. With photographs evoking the rugged landscapes and faces from which this music is born, as well as the exquisite beauty of the fiddles themselves, this is a work as serene as a fjord, and as deep. 


One of Norway’s leading players and teachers of the Hardanger fiddle, Knut Hamre has created a distinctive mode of expression within this ancient tradition. He has performed all over the world and has won numerous prizes, including Commander of the Order of St. Olav for his outstanding work in promoting Norwegian folk music.

Benedicte Maurseth is a Norwegian folk musician, composer, and writer. She began her study of the Hardanger fiddle with Knut Hamre at the age of eight. Since then she has collaborated with leading artists in a variety of genres, among them Jon Fosse, Anne Marit Jacobsen, Berit Opheim, and Marilyn Crispell. She has toured as a soloist and in collaboration with others in Norway and internationally, and has made several recordings on Grappa and ECM. In 2017 she was awarded the NOPA Music Prize for her outstanding contribution to the Norwegian music scene.


 “I am always struck by how different art forms can have so much in common, no matter whether they are music or literature. Everything of importance is universal. To Be Nothing intricately explores these universalisms so that other people too can share their wisdom.”
         —from the foreword by Jon Fosse

“There are deeper levels to Knut as well, levels that become evident after you've known him for a while. He's always been old, he's always been young. There is a kind of equanimity in him; a rooted feeling. What you see is what there is, but at the same time there are layers behind layers. The unity of Knut, his fiddle, and his music is something I haven't often seen.”

—Steve Tibbetts