Art and Culture on Samsø

Beautiful sounds in Toftebjerg

Two passionate souls have created a concert venue in a former pig stable, each summer filled with world-class piano music.

“A grand piano is an incredibly unhandy thing to take in a suitcase!”

This is how Ingryd Thorson and Julian Thurber begin the story about their long and winding road from England to Samsø. Ingryd and Julian met in the late 1960s, when they both studied at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London. After graduating, the couple spent some years in Poland, Moscow and Budapest until one day the phone rang…

”The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen offered me a position as a repetiteur and soloist, and of course I said yes,” recalls Julian, who can look back on more than 30 years behind the Royal piano keys. Ingryd was also engaged by the theatre and as a result, the pair has always been in close proximity – both in the concert halls and at home in the living room.

If Ingryd and Julian were x-rayed, one would probably observe skeletons comprising G clefs, bar lines and slurs. Music is an integral part of their physical being. So much so that they can’t do without the piano, even on vacation. They were determined to find a holiday home with room for making music. Ingryd and Julian didn’t quite know what they were looking for until they were invited to Samsø by some friends in 1995. And there, in the middle of the village of Toftebjerg, they found their place.

Face the music
The next many summers were spent renovating the house but also taking time out and playing the piano. When contemplating what to do to the old piggery, it turned out to have a magnificent acoustics. ”And so we simply decided to make a concert hall,” says Ingryd.

In 2011 they opened the doors to the very first ”Samsø Piano Festival”, which runs over five Thursdays during the summer. “Most people automatically think of classical music when they hear the word piano concert but our programs offer everything from jazz to baroque and boogie woogie. We challenge the featured pianists – they must have a story to tell and they must be willing to share their passion,” explains Julian.

The concert venue is so small that even those on the back row can see the pianists’ fingers and facial expressions. “It creates a really unique and intimate atmosphere being so close to the music. The program features old and new works and occasionally we present a world première. The audience gets an experience that they would not get anywhere else,“ Ingryd states.

Last updated: 14/04/2023 11:36