Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Larry Edward Syndergaard (1936-2015)

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Larry Edward Syndergaard (1936-2015)

Article excerpt

Larry Syndergaard was a distinguished ballad scholar, with a particular knowledge of the Scandinavian ballads and their relations with their English and Scottish counterparts. In this respect, he is perhaps best known for his book English Translations of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballads, a invaluable guide for scholars interested in the Scandinavian material but uncertain how far to trust the available translations. (1)

Having spent his early years on farms in Iowa and Minnesota, Larry was educated in Forestry and General Science at Iowa State College (University), and then took a master's in English at the University of Wisconsin. In 1968 he took up a post in the English Department at the Western Michigan University (WMU), Kalamazoo, where he remained until his retirement in 2000, specializing in medieval literature, including folklore-related materials. WMU is celebrated for its Medieval Institute and its annual Medieval Congress, which attracts some three thousand scholars each year, and Larry was involved in the congress right from the start. He also made a significant contribution on the administrative side, defending the depth of the academic experience and nurturing the university's commitment to a multicultural outlook.

Larry was well known to European scholars through his participation in the annual conferences of the Kommission fur Volksdichtung (KfV), the international ballad commission, at which he was a regular for more than twenty years, often accompanied by his wife, Ardis, until her death in 2008. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the KfV, a richly deserved honour. Following his retirement from teaching, Larry instituted a ballad session, which subsequently expanded to a couple of sessions, at the WMU Medieval Congress, under the auspices of the KfV. These were extremely successful right from the start, made the more so by Larry and Ardis's hospitality at the 'ballad-mongers' dinners' they hosted at their home for participants in the ballad sessions and other 'friends of the ballad'. …

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