Knute Reindahl


Link to Knute Reindahl web page
Link to Reindahl Registry

Born in Telemark in 1857, Knute Reindahl emigrated with his widowed mother and six siblings in 1867, settling in Dane County’s Town of Burke along with other Norwegian newcomers.  Hailing from a Norwegian district renowned for fine woodcarving, Reindahl began developing his skills at an early age, reportedly carving a violin out of solid wood by the age of eight.  Once arrived in Wisconsin, he learned to make bows and arrows from neighboring Ho-Chunks in the Monona area.  He peddled these and other carved items (spoons, letter openers) door-to-door and to local stores to help his family.  A hired man on farms and construction worker as a young man, Reindahl saved enough money to return to Telemark in 1887, studying woodcarving and distinguishing himself as an ornamental carver and instrument-maker.  Returning to America and settling in Chicago in 1889, he carved panels for the Pullman railroad car manufacturing company.  After winning a Diploma of Merit at Chicago’s 1893 “Columbian Exposition” world’s fair, he followed his dream to become an accomplished violin maker, a pursuit which occupied until his death in 1934.  Reindahl moved back to the Madison area in 1910, settling on the shores of Lake Monona. A prolific maker of sonorous and ornately carved violins, viola’s, and cellos, Knute Reindahl also made at least one psalmodikon-derived “Viking cello” from a pitchfork.