Giuseppe Acerbi, an Italian naturalist, explorer, and composer, and Anders Skjöldebrand, a Swedish soldier, statesman, aristocrat, and artist, became traveling companions in the final years of the eighteenth century on a journey through Sweden, Finland, and Lapland to the North Cape. Soon after their journey, each man published travel memoirs containing vivid narratives together with illustrations from their journey. They observed the early performance of Finnish folk music and included transcriptions of this music in their works. More significantly, they described Finnish ceremonial rune singing, years before Elias Lönnrot and others collected the texts of these runes. Acerbi also provided an illustration that, according to its caption, depicts rune singing with kantele accompaniment. Elsa Enäjärvi-Haavio's foundational work showed that, because of inaccuracies in this early illustration, the actual manner of Finnish rune singing was altered. This article examines the early travel memoirs of Acerbi and Skjöldebrand for their musical content, reintroduces the findings of Enäjärvi-Haavio, and evaluates their contributions to the knowledge of early Finnish folk music.

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