Early Beowulf reconstruction tape

Listen to one of the earliest recordings of Benjamin Bagby’s Beowulf reconstruction, made in ca. 1987 (almost 30 years ago). It was originally released as a cassette tape together with a publication on voices and instruments in the Middle Ages. The book is long out of print, and John Tucker has kindly digitized the recording and put it on his website.

Copenhagen early music festival

Following his performance of Beowulf in Copenhagen’s early music festival ‘Renaissance/SOLO’ in October, Benjamin Bagby talked with the audience about his work, and was saved at some point with a glass of good Danish beer. Photo: Denis Khomenko

Benjamin Bagby solo performance: The Voyager: Medieval Songs of Exile, Wandering and Travel

In January 2015 Benjamin Bagby premiered a new solo program at the Musée de Cluny in Paris: the theme was travel and the songs of travellers in the Middle Ages. The live concert was filmed by Laurent Hadrien and a short film has been produced, with excerpts from the performance and added commentary by Bagby.

Beowulf in Russia

On 8 September 2015, Benjamin Bagby performed Beowulf for the first time in the Russian Federation, in the Tchaikowsky Conservatory in Moscow. Bagby also coached an ensemble of Moscow early music performers preparing for their Russian premiere of the 'Roman de Fauvel' on 12 September at the festival La Renaissance. For this significant event, Bagby also worked with Russian instrumentalists Ivan Velikanov, Danil Ryabchikov and French vocalist Marc Mauillon.

Pyotr Pospelov, one of the most prominent critics on the Russian classical music scene, wrote a review for the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti entitled Medieval Beowulf at La Renaissance Festival:

It turns out that orcs were not invented by Tolkien

‘...Bagby has been performing the poem for many years, and this 80-minute piece, occupying the whole concert, is burnished up to brilliance: the singer works with the sounds of the Old English language, obscure to modern English speakers, and with the sound of his flexible, expressive and resoundingbaritone... the artist reaches an impressive intonation and rhythmical diversity... reciting, chanting, singing long melismas, switching to a complex pattern of text, savouring each syllable... 

...Modern teenage culture with its trolls and orcs presented itself in Bagby’s performance in its original purity. Nowadays an ethno-performer, living in our pop-music age, could, probably, be glad to know that an ancient bard at a feast in a castle used similar rhythms and techniques…'

(Translation by Danil Ryabchikov)

Beowulf at the Utrecht Early Music Festival

On 29-30 August, Benjamin Bagby celebrated the 25th anniversary of his first performance of Beowulf at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, performing again to sold-out houses in Utrecht's RASA Theatre. See the festival's promotional video in which Bagby appears to discuss his work:

Review in the Spanish daily El Paìs

Bagby's Beowulf performed in Carnegie Hall, New York City

On 22 April 2014, Benjamin Bagby performed a version of Beowulf as part of a series of concerts curated by American composer David Lang.

Collected Stories: Hero

This inventive program, curated by composer-in-residence David Lang, examines the use of music to prop up a heroic character or underscore an anti-hero. Vocalist, harpist, and scholar Benjamin Bagby performs scenes from his dramatic interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, followed by the Harry Partch Institute Ensemble's performance of The Wayward, Partch’s collection of musical compositions based on the spoken and written words of hobos riding trains, hitchhiking, and searching for nourishment during the Great Depression in the Western United States.

Benjamin Bagby, voice and Anglo-Saxon harp
Harry Partch Institute Ensemble

BENJAMIN BAGBY Scenes from Beowulf
PARTCH The Wayward

New York Times review

This concert was listed among the 'Ten Best Classical Music Events of 2014' by the New York Times!

No Flash plug-in present.

Mr. Bagby comes as close to holding hundreds of people in a spell as ever a man has... That is much too rare an experience in theater. — The New York Times

DVD purchase information

Forthcoming Performances

11-13 March 2016 Beowulf USA tour in late March, early April 2017, including Yale University, Lafayette College and others to be announced.

30 March 2017 Princeton University

Some Recent Performances

11-13 March 2016 - Toronto, Canada

17 November 2015 7:30pm - Akron, Ohio

14 November 2015 8:00pm - Reinberger Chamber Hall at Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio

13 November 2015 8:00pm - St Paul's Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

20 October 2015 Copenhagen, Denmark KoncertKirken, Copenhagen Early Music Festival

8 September 2015 Moscow, Russia, Tchaikowsky Conservatory

29/30 August 2015 Utrecht Early Music Festival

19 June 2015 Zadar Concert Season, Croatia

1 May 2015 University of Chicago

7 May 2015 Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC (USA)

February 23, 2012

Washington D.C. (USA)
Gaston Hall
Georgetown University
video titles in English


Sequentia (Benjamin Bagby and Norbert Rodenkirchen)
Program info

25 and 26 February, Houston TX (Rothko Chapel)

3 March, Wellesley MA (Houghton Chapel)

6 March, New York City NY (Morgan Library) 

November 19, 2011: INVOCATION - International Vocal Night, Köln (Germany)

November 30, 2011: Basel (Schweiz): Museum Tinguely

October 8, 2011: Konstanz (D), Archäologisches Museum Baden-Württemberg – 'Hildebrandslied, Heliand und Beowulf'

September 2, 2011: Wratislava Cantans Festival / Poland

September 29, 2011: Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA / USA  

October 4, 2011: Wake Forest University, Winston- Salem, North Carolina / USA

August 27, 2011: Fränkischer Sommer / Germany

November 20, 2010: London, British Library

October 22, 2010: California University of Pennsylvannia, California, PA

October 26, 27, 29 and 30, 2010: Cal Performances, Zellerbach Theater, Berkeley, CA

November 4, 2010: Chesterton, Maryland, Washington College, Decker Hall

November 5, 2010: Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

July 16, 2010: Madison Early Music Festival, Mills Concert Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

July 21, 2010: Tanglewood Music Festival, Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA

25-28 October, 2009: London, UK, British Library: Beowulf 1000: A Celebration of a Heroic Poem

A four-day celebration of the magnificent Anglo-Saxon epic in performance, readings, discussion, family events and workshops, tohether with a new display of the unique surviving manuscript.

  • 25/10/09: performance (London, British Library)
  • 26/10/09: performance (London, BL)
  • 27/10/09: round table discussion with poet Seamus Heaney (London, BL)
  • 28/10/09: performance (London, BL)

September 6, 2009: Vokalmusik entlang der Romanischen Straße, Germany
(For details, consult www.kultursommer.de)

June 18, 2009: Ancona, Italy
Presenter: Cantar Lontano Festival, organized by E lucevan le stelle
Venue: Abbazia di Sant'Elena
www.cantarlontano.com, www.elucevanlestelle.com, www.youtube.com/cantarlontano

July 21, 2009: Vendôme, France, 21h00
Presenter: Le CliO (Conservatoire contemporain de Littérature Orale)
Quartier Rochambeau, 41100 Vendôme, France, Tél. 02 54 72 26 76

November 10, 2008, 8:00 – Hanover, NH
Rollins Chapel
Dartmouth College

November 1, 2008, 8:00 – Vancouver, BC
UBC Recital Hall

March 8, 2009,  1:00 – New York, NY
The Cloisters

February 28, 2009, 8:00 – Kansas City, MO
Grace and Holy Trinity Church