Hear 1000-year-old epic poem Beowulf performed in original Old English

Perhaps you heard the name Beowulf in your studies, perhaps from a family member. Maybe you even heard the name from the estranged film adaptation, but regardless of the source, you should know it’s a story steeped in rich history.

Beowulf  was first composed somewhere between 700 and 1000 AD and first written down around 1000 AD, making it both the oldest and one of the most significant Old English poems there is. It follows a Scandinavian hero of the same name as he sets out to slay Grendel, a monster terrorising the mead hall of Danish King Hrothgar.

benjamin bagby's beowulf

Want to experience Beowulf as it was written? Benjamin Bagby plays the medieval bard at Canberra International Music Festival, reconstructing the seminal Old English text for modern audiences.

As part of the Canberra International Music Festival, musician Benjamin Bagby will be performing the first third of the 3,182-line poem to a live audience. Spoken in the traditional Anglo-Saxon Old English and accompanied by the harp, this will be a modern audience’s closest chance witnessing the work as it was meant to be heard.

Benjamin Bagby has been performing medieval music for decades, both as a solo musician and as part of medieval ensemble Sequentia. His work bridges performance, art, theatre, and research, often engaging himself in the reconstruction of historical texts as well as their staging.

Bagby’s Beowulf  was first created in 1990, and now enjoys a high-demand touring schedule of up to 20 yearly performances. Everywhere it lands, Bagby’s one-man show is highly praised, from Edinburgh Festival to Carnegie Hall. This once-in-a-lifetime event marks his first Beowulf  performance in Australia.


Tickets for Benjamin Bagby’s Beowulf can be purchased here, with plenty of deals available for students and concessions.

Find more information on Canberra International Music Festival here.