Kaustinen is a municipality of 4,300 inhabitants in Central Ostrobothnia, in Western Finland. Hundreds of people from Kaustinen and neighboring municipalities cherish the local living music and dance tradition, with the fiddle as the main instrument.
In December 2021, Kaustinen Fiddle Playing was inscribed into Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
There are dozens of active groups in Kaustinen: village bands, family bands, guided instrument and dance groups and choirs. The music is played in public and private events, ceremonies and feasts, as well as at homes and by spontaneously changing ensembles almost anytime, anywhere. The tradition is transmitted to children and youth especially by Näppärit, Kaustinen-born, widely spread pedagogical practice, and Kaustinen Youth Association’s Ottoset dance and music groups.
The music is based on the area’s old wedding music, but new music has always been composed as well. The most well-known amateur folk musician composers in Kaustinen region are Konsta Jylhä, Wiljami Niittykoski and Otto Hotakainen. Numerous professional musicians and bands have originated in Kaustinen and have made a name for themselves around the world, some relying more on the region’s musical heritage and some less.
You can find out more about the tradition in the Finnish Wiki-inventory for Living Heritage.
The highlight of the year ever since 1968 is the week-long Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in July. The biggest folk music festival in Scandinavia with a yearly visit count of 40000–50000 brings together thousands of amateur and professional musicians from all over Finland and the world. The living heart of this huge feast is the local tradition, and Kaustinen groups perform many times a day.
The tradition is kept up by individuals, groups and heritage practitioners’ associations, among others Kaustinen Youth Association, Kaustinen Näppärit Association and Kaustinen Folk Musicians’ Association. These three are the membership of Pro Kaustinen Association which produces the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival. Finnish Folk Music Institute, situated in Kaustinen, supports with its expertise both local as well as all Finnish folk music and folk dance communities in safeguarding their musical heritage.