Greta Naterberg was a transmitter of Swedish traditions and ballad singer, noted for her repertoire of folklore songs, mainly from the 1700s.
Greta Petersdotter Naterberg was born in Nykil parish in the province of Östergötland in 1772. She was the daughter of Peter Kallerman, a horseman, and his wife Kerstin Lagesdotter, and she grew up on a soldier’s smallholding. In her youth, she was a servant at several homes in Östergötland before she married Peter Hansson in 1800. He was a farmhand. A few years after that he became a life grenadier in the No. 46 Naterstad regiment and took the name Naterberg. The couple lived in a soldier’s smallholding at Slaka backa and had several children.
Greta Naterberg was discovered when it became the fashion among academics to interest themselves in the Swedish folksong. The brothers Daniel and Johan Haqvin Wallman from Östergötland left many song manuscripts and were also in contact with another important collector from Östergötland, Leonard Fredrik Rääf. Both the Wallman brothers and Rääf visited Greta Naterberg on several occasions, probably starting in 1813, and noted down her song texts. The manufacturer and pianist Carl Peter Grevilli from Linköping and the organist in Landeryd, Anders Magnus Weselius were engaged to write down the melodies.
L. F. Rääf has described her background and the setting in which she learned her songs in his notes ”Till uplysande af Sångerskans Lefnadsomständigheter”: ”She had the most fortunate memory”, Rääf points out, commenting that she knew fragments of quite a number of songs that she remembered as soon as they were named. She also had a large store of games and tales that she was happy to tell. Rääf wrote: ”Of singing games she has a large store – also according to her own account the youth at Slaka backen and the district around it (being heavily populated and built up) gather at her home on Sundays when she sings her games for them to dance and play to far into the evenings.”
Greta Naterberg hade a particularly great and interesting repertoire of ballads. Of special interest for ballad research are that at least six of her ballads can be traced back to her mother Kerstin Lagesdotter who is said to have been born in 1728.
The preserved notes include about 40 songs divided into 25 ballads, 2 poetic songs, about 10 dance games, and 5 lullabies and herding songs. The people writing down the songs in those days were mainly interested in medieval ballads, but it is certain that Greta Naterberg’s repertoire included several hundred songs that were mainly from the 1700s. Several of the songs noted down after her were published by Erik Gustav Geijer and Arvid August Afzelius in the volume Svenska folk-visor från forntiden 1814–1816.
Greta Naterberg died in 1818, leaving behind her husband and several children.