Written by Eric Andersson
If you’re like me, you remember the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Moscow Russia, as one of the best shows ever. Moscow pulled out all the stops that year and created a truly amazing stage, using almost a third of the entire planet’s supply of LEDs. The competition was fierce, with amazing acts like sexy Sakis Rouvas of Greece singing This is Our Night, stunning Chiara of Malta singing What if We, Denmark’s incredibly dreamy Brinck singing Believe Again, and the absolutely fantastic Svetlana Loboda from the Ukraine giving us naughty Roman soldiers and her dance song, Be my Valentine! (Anti-crisis Girl). It was a Grand Final to remember!
But when the voting started, it was soon apparent that a very young, very adorable Alexander Rybak from Norway was going to sweep the points with his song Fairytale. Wait, Alexander who? What was going on? I’d barely heard of this guy, and I tend to keep my ears open when it comes to ESC contestants. But here he was scoring the highest number of points in Eurovision history.
Recently, I invited some friends over and we watched that show again, and I enjoyed it almost as much as I did the first time. Afterwards, when I’d sobered up, I decided to do a little research of the then 23-year-old history maker. Here is what I found:
Alexander Rybak was born on May 13th 1986 in Minsk, Belarus, to parents, Natalia and Igor, both professionally trained musicians. He was taught the violin and piano at a very early age, but decided to focus his attention on the violin. At the age of ten, he enrolled at The Barrat Due Institute of Music where he not only studied the great classical masters, but also began playing jazz and popular pop hits.
In 2005, at the age of 19, Rybak joined the Norwegian talent-contest “Idol” and at 20, he competed in another talent-contest, Kjempesjansen, where he won playing a song of his own composition, Foolin. After that, he was cast in a production of Fiddler on the Roof, which earned him a Hedda, the highest award for Norwegian stage actors.
Later, he traveled around Norway playing for food and lodging. During this time, he wrote his now popular song, Fairytale. In 2009, he performed the song on stage at the 54th Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow where he earned a stunning 387 points, winning by a landslide.
Two weeks after the ESC, Rybak released his debut album Fairytales, which reached triple platinum in Norway, Gold in Sweden, and Double Platinum in Russia. A short time later, he went on tour in Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Poland, and the United States. Later that year, he performed at the Nobel Peace prize concert in Oslo.
According to his online biography, Rybak’s interest in acting has led to a character-role in the movie “Yohan- the child-wanderer” and the voice-dubbing part of the lead characters in the animated movies How to Train Your Dragon and The Moomins and the Comet Chase.
In June 2010, his second album, No Boundaries, was released, and in December of that year, he also released a Christmas-EP, God Jul. In June 2011, he released his 3rd album, Visa vid vindens ängar, a collection of poetic ballads all sung in Swedish by Alexander.
In 2011, Rybak got his bachelor’s degree with top grades as a violinist, and in November 2012, he released a Christmas-album “Christmas-tales” with new versions of his favorite Christmas songs as well as some of his own composition.
Last month (September 2015), Rybak released his first book called Trolle og den Magiske Fela (Trolle and the Magic Fiddle), a partially autobiographical children’s adventure about being different, bullying, and accepting what is different in others. Born in Minsk, Rybak felt ostracized at times for practicing the violin most days after school. In his book, Trolle, who has no tail, feels lonely when he is teased and bullied by the other trolls. It is a tale of a friendship that overcomes everything – even the darkest magic of the forest.
Currently, Rybak and actor Dennis Storhøi are on tour promoting the book. Storhøi uses voice and facial expressions to create the appropriate mystical atmosphere when reading the book to audiences, while Rybak fiddles a magical tune.