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Christian Refsaas was born in 1882 in Trøndelag. Because he spent much time working in Germany, he simplified his last name to Leden.
He was educated in music, and was a church organist in Tromsø 1904 - 1909. Inspired by his teacher, Erich von Hornbostel, Christian took an interest in the collection of folk music. In 1909 he went to North Greenland with the famous Danish Arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen.


Christian Leden
Christian Leden is considered a pioneer in the use of the phonograph for collecting music, and he is also the first to record film from the northern Arctic region. In addition to music he collected objects typical of Greenland's culture, and also took photographs.

After his first visit to North Greenland, Leden went to East Greenland in 1920, North Canada in 1911, West Greenland in 1912, North Canada 1913 - 1916 and East Greenland in 1926.
Leden argued in favour of preserving Norwegian folk music. On his own initiative he travelled around Norway, making many valuable recordings during 1937 - 1938. He also argued for the establishment of a National Music Collection.
His last expeditions went to Chile and Argentina in 1949 and to South America and Easter Island 1954 - 1955. The material from these expeditions was never edited or published.

Christian Leden
Leden travelled around the world giving lectures on Eskimo culture and music. There are many newspaper articles and advertisements describing his lectures and the great stir caused by his photos of eskimos "air bathing", and their custom of sending their old to the happy hunting grounds.

Christian Leden was married to German Liselotte Steinecke, and he cooperated extensively with German museums and publishers. He wrote his books in German, which is one of the reasons he is not well known in Norway.


Leden in the National Library
Leden's wax roll recordings were donated to the Oslo University Library in 1954, and are now in the care of the National Library. Around 900 rolls have been digitized and preserved in the National Library vaults in Mo i Rana.
Most of Leden's films were lost in a fire during World War II, but three rolls have now been restored and preserved by the National Library.


Leden's main works
"Über Kiwatins Eisfelder" deals with the trip to Canada 1913 - 1916.
"Über die Musik der Smith Sund Eskimos und ihre Verwandtschaft mit der Musik der Amerikanischen Indianer"
"Über die Musik der Ostgrönländer," a detailed description and analysis of folk music in Greenland.
Other books and articles mainly about the music of Eskimos and Indians.
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