American Elephants

The Magic of the Faroe Islands by The Elephant's Child

I was fascinated with Henrik Chaim Goldschmidt playing the oboe so beautifully with the Faroe Islands Philharmonic, below, largely because I was surprised that the Faroe Islands had a philharmonic orchestra. I had, I’m afraid, forgotten entirely about these islands.  I barely remembered where they are, so if you are familiar with them, you can ignore this and look at the videos which are lovely.

They were first inhabited by Scots and Irish monks in the 6th century, Around 800, Norsemen settled the islands from Norse settlements in the Northern Isles and Western Isles of Scotland. Settlers, emigrants from Norway, arrived in the 9th century, and the Faroe language is derived from the Norse. Norway was united with Denmark after 1380, and the union dissolved in 1814, and the Faroe Islands became Danish. Modern science shows the male DNA is largely Norse and the female DNA is largely Scots, which I thought was interesting.

The Faroe Islands became a fishing nation with its own fleet.  The Brits occupied the islands in 1940 out of fear the Faroes would become a Nazi U-Boat base. The Germans never occupied the islands, and while they were there, the Brits built an airport and roads, and left a bunch of vehicles. The islands reverted to Denmark after the war, but in 1948 home rule was initiated with a high degree of local autonomy. They declined to join Denmark in entering the European Union (smart islanders). They are still part of the Kingdom of Denmark but like so many small nations are busy arguing about whether or not they want independence.

There are 18 major islands about 180 miles from Shetland Is. (Scotland), 280 mi. from Iceland, 420 mi. from Denmark — out in the middle of the North Sea in the Gulf Stream. Lots of fish, birds and sheep, and about 50,000 islanders, with a philharmonic orchestra.


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