Highlight of the month


Sigurður Ólafsson – „Svanurinn minn syngur“ (My swan sings)

Sigurður Ólafsson was born in Reykjavík on 4 December  1916 and died 13 July 1993. He was for a long time one of the nation´s best-known singers. In a singing career that lasted about 50 years, he sang with choirs, at funerals, with dance-bands and in song concerts. Besides he sang a few opera roles and other singing roles in The National Theatre and participated e.g. in the first production of the opera Rigoletto. Sigurður´s singing was also published on many albums. One of them is Sigurður Ólafsson sings Icelandic songs which is a 78 rpm record produced by Íslenzkir tónar in 1954.There Sigurður sings three songs by Sigvaldi Kaldalóns (1881-1946) accompanied on the piano by Carl Billich (1911-1989), „Sprengisandur“ and „Kveldriður“, that both have lyrics by Grímur Thomsen (1820-1896) and „Svanurinn minn syngur“ with lyrics by Halla Eyjólfsdóttir (1866-1937). The record is a mono recording. The recording is done at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV). The pressing was done by AS Nera in Oslo. Photo of Sigurður Ólafssoni is from Wikipedia.org, with permission from Sena.


The composer Sigvaldi Kaldalóns was born in Reykjavík and graduated in 1908 as a physician from the School of Medicine in Reykjavík. He worked as a doctor in Denmark and in Hólmavík for a year, and then in the Nauteyri district of the West Fjords 1910-1921 where he took the name Kaldalóns after the nearest fjord. He was later a doctor on Flatey island and finally in Grindavík, Keflavík district. He died in Reykjavík 28 July 1946. The poet Halla Eyjólfsdóttir was born in Gilsfjarðarmúli in Geiradalur district but moved with her husband, Þórður Jónsson, to Laugaból in Nauteyri district. Her son, Sigurður Þórðarson, was a good friend of Sigvaldi Kaldalóns and published his first collection of songs in three volumes 1916-18. Halla´s collection of poetry, Ljóðmæli, was published by Sigurður in 1919. The first poem in the collection is „Svanurinn minn syngur“ (My swan sings), that first appeared a year before in the third volume of songs by Kaldalóns. Sigurður Þórðarson once said that the origins of the poem may be traced to one occasion when he was going hunting and his mother, Halla, said: „If you kill a swan, you are murderers.“

In the National Library´s Sound library you can listen to Sigurður Ólafsson sing „Svanurinn minn syngur“ (My swan sings):


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