• Sweden's news in English

Naked horn player named Sweden's Water Fairy of the Year

David Landes · 21 Jul 2009, 16:20

Published: 21 Jul 2009 16:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The winning performance by Martin Norberg marked the first time in the 15-year history of the Årets Näck (‘Water Fairy of the Year’) competition that a saxophonist, or a musician playing anything other than a violin, had taken top honours.

The mesmerizing horn player almost missed the competition altogether, however, making his victory all the more unexpected.

“He just showed up a couple of hours before the competition and asked if he was allowed to play a saxophone,” contest arranger Calle Hernmarck told The Local.

According to legend, a water fairy is a supernatural being that takes the form of a naked man playing the violin on the shores of Swedish lakes and streams.

The creature’s captivating music supposedly holds magical powers which tempt people to into the water, causing them to drown.

But Hernmarck, who started the competition in 1995 as a way to put a twist on a more traditional gathering of folk musicians, explained that even though the violin is traditionally associated with the water fairy, there’s no reason that other instruments can’t be used as well.

“The myth of the water fairy is really old and predates when the violin first came to Sweden in 1646,” he said.

“What matters for the competition, however, is bringing the spirit of the water fairy to life and we want to give participants the chance to do that no matter what instrument they choose.”

The 2009 competition, which was held in front of a crowd of more than 400 spectators on Thursday, featured five participants, including the reigning Water Fairy of the Year, violinist Ross Campbell.

Braving the creek's icy waters, each musician did their best to convince the judges, that he best captured the water fairy’s spirit and musical mysticism.

According to the competition’s rules, participants are only allowed to cover themselves with items “which can be found in nature”.

“It takes a special type of person to be a water fairy,” said Hernmarck.

“They have to be something of an actor so that they can play without thinking, ‘OK, now I’m naked.’ They also have to be good musicians.”

Following performances by the five competitors in this year’s competition, it was saxophonist Norberg who made the biggest impression on the judges, who included folk musicians Ylva Norrman and André Huck, as well as artist Ingrid Roth.

Story continues below…

“Just like the Water Fairy, he appeared in a guise we didn’t expect. He captivated and frightened, with his eyes and his enchanted saxophone, he seduced the jury,” wrote the jury in naming Norberg the winner.

“It feels great. I’m both surprised and happy” Norberg told TV4 following the competition.

“It’s not really a water fairy instrument, but it appeared to hit the spot.”

A video report on the 2009 Water Fairy of the Year competition from TV4. NOTE: video clip contains scenes of male nudity.

Related links:

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:02 July 21, 2009 by conboy
For once I am lost for words "Local in video Shocka!"
20:18 July 21, 2009 by BillyB
This has to be a joke?

there seriously cannot be a yearly competition where nude men compete to be the best water fairy?

Hands down the most bizarre, oddest and disturbing thing ever.
20:28 July 21, 2009 by BillyB
Someone explain this to me quickly, as this just looks stupider that a barrel of badgers covered in treacle

Each year a load of men get naked and play an instrument (ho hum).

Then judges mark them on who looks the most like a water fairy?

This seems to be something odd and slightly disturbing.

And there was me thinking the midsummer frog dance was peculiar.
21:47 July 21, 2009 by Inletwatcher
I think its lovely! Its a form of art...it gets the people together and for one afternoon maybe no one speaks of war, or crime or hate. Also thumbs up to SNIE for the moving pictures! Guess I do have a soft spot for fairys.

23:45 July 21, 2009 by The Lix-a
Haha yep i got some great postcards on my first trip to the north of a naked bearded guy sitting on a rock next to a river. I sent my mate one and he said it looked like my dad, um it did actually hahar!
08:32 July 22, 2009 by Renfeh Hguh
A naked fairy blowing his horn

It must be pride week soon
08:45 July 22, 2009 by Inletwatcher
Mean like this?

09:02 July 22, 2009 by Mzungu
Nah! ...More along these lines!

10:03 July 22, 2009 by AussieAndy
The guy in front of Willys must have been practising for this event. Fiddling and horn blowing in public

Anyone else notice the audience was all female.
13:00 July 22, 2009 by Streja
Näcken, a mythical creature that I don't really associate with fairies. The myth says Näcken lures people into the streams by playing the fiddle so beautifully and then the unlucky person who is charmed drowns. You can also have Näcken teach you how to play the fiddle.

13:01 July 22, 2009 by Streja
Plus, I think it's kind of cool that it's a naked man and not a naked woman for a change! That's why all the men on here are so uncomfortable with the idea. They like to cling to their playboy mags with silicone tits instead because they don't appreciate nature.
13:03 July 22, 2009 by Kieruk
Thanks Streja, just proved to us all that women are suckered in by a naked guy playing the fiddle, even if it leads to their own death.

Good use of Swedish Wiki on an English speaking topic by the way...
13:12 July 22, 2009 by Streja
Yeah I know but could not find any good info in English, so I explained Näcken and then provided a reference so noone would think I made it up. Some know Swedish here so they can check. The others just have to believe me.

It's not just women who drown, it's everyone. The myth is not about luring women it's about luring PEOPLE into the stream.
13:17 July 22, 2009 by Kieruk
Not sure I would follow a naked guy into a stream...

But thanks for the update. From the sounds of it, this guy shouldn't even have been allowed to play!
13:30 July 22, 2009 by Streja
As I said, it's a myth. Don't worry it's only make believe...

13:30 July 22, 2009 by Elljay
The "Neck" is not a fairy but a water spirit. Wouldn't sound as funny in the headline of the article, I suppose. . .

13:40 July 22, 2009 by collan
the naked fiddler is just one of the guises he uses to lure people, and especially children if remember correctly, into death.

one of my favorite versions of him is the horse that grows big enough to hold as many children as he can pick up and then take into the woods.

dangerous bloke!
15:53 July 23, 2009 by swamp_guy68
this is so Gay
20:44 July 23, 2009 by Mzungu

Exceptionally informative first post,congratulations...

*welcome* :not:
21:28 July 23, 2009 by Inletwatcher
18:58 July 24, 2009 by irishmark
"A nude saxophone player surprised four similarly dressed violinists in northwestern Sweden..."

"The mesmerizing horn player.."

They obviously ran out of inuendos after that and tried to do some serious journalism. I was already too busy laughing though to take any of it seriously! May have to forward it to everyone I know back in blighty - beats the hell out of chasing a lump of cheese down a hill in a pair of wellies...
19:23 July 24, 2009 by Monark540
Now I understand what the sculpture in my apartment courtyard represents:

09:51 July 25, 2009 by jim747
I thought this was going to be another topic on Zlatan, fairy.
00:07 July 26, 2009 by Johnny Salami
Hasn't this guy heard of shrinkage?
Today's headlines
Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Forgotten Ingmar Bergman script to be made into a film
It's thought the script was part of an ill-fated collaboration between Bergman (left) and Federico Fellini (right). Photo: AP

Written in 1969, the script is 'up to the standard of his best', according to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Sweden's consumption footprint 'among the worst'
Trucks transporting goods on a Swedish highway. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden has been criticized for its unsustainable consumption of the planet's resources in the latest edition of a major WWF study.

Video: How to be Joel Kinnaman for a day
Kinnaman with one of the camera rigs that will allow people inside his head. Photo: Tele2

The Swedish Hollywood actor will strap a camera to his head, stream it live and allow viewers to interact with him this weekend.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
How Stockholm's cold climate boosts creativity
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Do long, dark winters actually make Swedes more creative and more productive? We spoke to Stockholm startups to find out.

Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available