Biography | Johannes Geworkian Hellman
Johannes Hellman2901-bakgrund

The Swedish musician Johannes Geworkian Hellman is considered as one of the most prominent hurdy-gurdy players of today. As a musician and artist, he is known for his captivating live performances whether playing solo or together with his ensembles.

Having studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and also with some of the world’s leading hurdy-gurdy players of today, Johannes treats his instrument in a way rarely seen. His own music is a crossover between contemporary folk music, art music and improvisation. Through his playing and composing he keeps extending the possibilities of the modern hurdy-gurdy.


Johannes received the awards ”Best New Album of the Year, 2023” and “The Best New Artist of the Year, 2016” together with his duo Symbio at the Swedish Folk & World Music Awards. He was chosen with the same duo to represent Sweden as Official showcase artist at the WOMEX- World Music Expo 2023 in Spain, Folk Alliance International 2020 in the US, Mundial Montreal 2022, Canada, Tallinn Music Week 2023, English Folk Expo 2023. For many years in a row he received the prestigious scholarship from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and he was among the few Swedish music artists who received the Swedish Arts Grants Committee ten year grant, in 2023. He won the first prize of the international competition for Solo Hurdy-gurdy “Les concours des vielles” in Chateu D´Ars, France 2011. Since I was a young child music has been a possibility for me to go into my inner world. It gave me space to connect with my emotions and to feel emotionally touched. As a musician I have a background in folk/traditional music, early western music, and improvisation. I started to learn to play music at the age of 7 and studied until I was 15 years old at a elementary school focusing on classical music. But at that time I did not know that I would live or even wanted to live as a musician.

It was my mother’s choice that I should start playing music early in my life, and I started with the classical violin at the age of 7. When I was 14 years old, I discovered the hurdy-gurdy and everything changed, I was mesmerized by the instrument and felt that the sound of the hurdy-gurdy, was how I wanted my voice to sound like. It took some time to be able to begin to play and to get an instrument of my own. But very soon, my interest for traditional folk music started to develop, and I became very fascinated with the hurdy-gurdy and with traditional music in its very different forms.

After a while I started to study Swedish traditional music at pre-college and college. The way of playing folk music and the culture around that music had opened something new inside of me. I have always been very interested in different musical expressions and today I am inspired by musicians from all different genres and styles.

My own musical expression is a crossover and a mixture of the music that inspires me and the music I have studied. I mainly play music that I have created myself or, often together with musical colleagues. For me the most important aspects of music-making are the musicians I play with and also that the music and performances feels meaningful, in one or another way. I want to be touched by the music I play, because then I believe in it and I want to share it with others.

Through the years I have been traveling to meet musicians who have inspired me with their music. All of them has been very generous and shared their knowledge and ideas with me. Some of them became close friends and inspirations for life, and without them I would not be where I am today. Some of my most important mentors and teachers through the years has been:

Maria Kalaniemi, Matthias Loibner, Valentin Clastrier, Romain Baudoin, Jonas Knutsson, Nathan Riki Thomsson, Pauliina Syrjälä, and Ola Bäckström.

Music became a way of living, a language to communicate with, and a therapeutic state of mind for me, my feelings and my thoughts. The power of art and music continues to fascinate me and I know that music can change peoples life, because it has changed my life. I am grateful for everything that music gave me!

Today my professional life mainly consists of creating music, rehearsing, booking concerts and playing concerts around the world together with my bands and as a solo-artist. I have been lucky to work full time as a freelance musician since my graduation year (2016). In addition to this I occasionally teach workshops in hurdy-gurdy around Europe and since 2020 I have reached hurdy-gurdy at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (SE), and The College of Music in Gothenburg (SE):

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