Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson Dies
Date: 27 Dec 1993
It's with a great regret that I announce that Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson
Allsherjargođi, the Icelandic farmer, poet, "kvćđamađur" (poetry
"singer") and head of the Icelandic
Ásatráarfélagiđ passed away on the 24th of December of 1993 at the age
Sveinbjörn was born in 1924 in Grafardalur, but from the age of 20
farmed the land at Dragháls in Borgarfjörđur, in 1965 he married
Svanfríđur Hagvaag (divorced). They had two sons.
He is perhaps best known as the Allsherjargođi (supreme head) of the
official Icelandic Ásatráarfélagiđ (or Ásatrú-sect), the sect devoted to
the survival of the heathen religion of pre-christian Iceland. Amongst
others things, Sveinbjörn got Ásatrúarfélagiđ officially recognised as a
religious body in 1972 after a long battle with the Ministry of Justice
& Ecclesiastical Affairs, the first non-christian group to receive such
rights, and served as the Allsherjargođi from the beginning.
Apart from the farming the main bulk of Sveinbjörn's work lay in the
Rímur and other poetry with the older Germanic form and metre.
Rímur is a kind of "sung Poetry" and is closely related to the epic
singing traditions of early Europe, unlike other conventional European
vocal music the Rímur where not affected by later and/or imported
musical characteristics. The Rímur singing reminds one of the vocal
chanting from the middle east, but the forms are not related and unlike
the Arabic counterpart the "sung poetry" of Iceland has no tonal scale
but is a free-form wave of sound. Still it's a strict form of expression
with stability in the volume, pitch, tempo and length of syllables.
Using the Rímur singing as a basis Sveinbjörn almost single-handed
recreated the art of epic singing of the Eddic metre/forms, the forms
used by the Scandinavian and English poets of pre Christian times, that
created such masterpieces as Völuspá and Beowulf (Bjólfskviđa). The
modern reader of such poetry tends to forget that the Eddic poetry,
Frankish lays, Beowulf and other old Germanic poetry was meant to be
recited, not read.
As the Nordic intelligentsia had dismissed the singing of Rímur and epic
lays to be "the primitive groans of farmers", and the older forms of
poetry where thought to be "outdated, primitive and restrictive" (in
other words, hill-billy "art", not to be taken seriously) Sveinbjörn
turned to the younger generation of listeners with his offerings.
Thus, in the late seventies/early eighties he often performed with the
various New Wave, Industrial and Punk-rock artists, groups like Psychic
TV Ţeyr (members later in Psychic TV, Killing Joke, Kukl, Sugarcubes &
Frostbite) and Purkur Pilnikk (whose members later started Kukl & the
Sugarcubes), a move which earned him the respect and admiration of the
younger music fans and the disrespect, hatred even, of self-appointed
"cultural moguls" and poetry/literature scholars.
He kept these close ties to the rock/industrial community and his
records where published by independent rock labels, rather than the
classical or early music specialist labels that you would have expected
to find his work on.
Apart from rekindling the interest in traditional forms of poetry and
poetry singing amongst the "indy rock" musicians in Europe, he
occasionally had other dealings with them, he conducted the marriage
ceremony of Genesis Porridge and his beloved (?) Paula, and the rate of
Industrial/noise artists amongst the members of Ásatrúarfélagiđ in
Reykjavík is so high, that they are sometimes referred to (humorously?)
as the "Flu Flux Flan".
Sveinbjörn's vocalization (singing) of the lays of the Elder Edda (Eddu
Kvaedi) are available from the English record company "D.U.R.T.R.O."
(United Dairies) as "Current 93 Presents Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson : The
Edda's" His biography was published in 1992 ("Alsherjajargođinn"
published by Hörpuútgáfan.)
We will remember.
Ólafur Gunnlaugsson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Posted on newsgroups: soc.culture.nordic, soc.culture.german, alt.pagan,