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Lebendige Vergangenheit - Marian Anderson (Vol.2)

Artist Marian Anderson
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Marian Anderson (Vol.2)
Release Date 2006-12-13
Genre Classical > Choro
Copyright © Preiser Records
Country AUSTRIA

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Marian Anderson born 17 February 1902 in Philadelphia, died 8 April 1993 in Portland. Marian Anderson made a name for herself in the musical and cultural history of the 20th century in two respects: as an outstanding singer, whose wonderful alto voice made a moving impression on audiences throughout the musical world and also as a committed and successful fighter in the struggle against racial discrimination. She was born in a section of Philadelphia that was inhabited for the most part by African-Americans. Various years – 1897, 1899 and 1902 – are given for her birth, but most reference works agree on the last of these. Anderson grew up in an humble but by no means poor or uneducated environment. She was brought up by her parents in the strict religious teachings of the Baptist Church, which also provided her earliest musical training. She began singing in the church’s children’s choir at the age of six, and was soon being entrusted with solos, large and small. This frequent singing for a larger audience gave her a confidence in performing publicly that was very much to her advantage at a later time. At the Baptist Church at the age of only 13, she sang the “Inflammatus” from Rossini’s Stabat Mater, a difficult piece requiring top high notes, and did so brilliantly. The natural singer then received many invitations to perform at church concerts as well as secular events. It was only obvious to offer regular voice lessons to such a richly talented young singer, and this was made possible by generous donations from numerous friends and patrons. Her first teacher, Mary S. Patterson, came from the family’s circle of acquaintances. Later Giuseppe Boghetti was her most important teacher, and continued to help her throughout her career. She also studied with Agnes Reifsneider and Frank La Forge in New York. Because of the singer’s wide range, from low D to high C, it was initially unclear into which category her voice fell. But in the course of Boghetti’s instruction, it finally became clear that her voice was best suited to the alto and mezzo range. Even her first concerts (starting in 1923) had a sensational effect. The young singer not only had an expressive voice with a glorious sound, she was also a magnificent performer and eminent musician. Her performances in some American cities, however, encountered opposition engendered by racial prejudice, and Anderson sometimes suffered humiliation. But her integrity as an artist always scored a clear victory. She rose to a high position in American musical life with performances of arias from Bach and Handel oratorios, lieder by German composers (Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms), and it wasn’t long before she had become one of the great singing personalities of her epoch. In 1930 the recording industry became aware of this great artist, and she made many recordings that were widely sold. Concert tours took the artist throughout America, Australia and Europe, where she sang in Berlin, Vienna, London, Paris, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Moscow, Leningrad and many other large cities, each time with triumphant success. Her pianist on many of these tours was Franz Rupp (1901-1992), who also accompanied her on several of her records. During the 1935 Salzburg Festival she gave a concert that had been arranged by Madame Charles Cahier, the formerly famous singer. In the audience of that concert, which took place in the ballroom of a large hotel, was the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini, who was often quoted later as having said: „A voice like yours is heard only once in a hundred years.“ Madame Cahier had sung at the Vienna Court Theatre under Gustav Mahler, was a recognised interpreter of his songs, and gave Anderson important suggestions for performing Mahler’s vocal works. A central event in Anderson’s career was a concert on Easter Sunday of 1939 in Washington DC. She had been scheduled to give a recital on 9 April in Washington’s Constitution Hall, but the organisation “Daughters of the American Revolution” (DAR) had refused to allow a black singer to perform there. Thus a decision was made to stage a free concert outdoors at the Lincoln Memorial. A huge crowd (reportedly 75,000 listeners) came to hear her, and the concert became a kind of demonstration. In her memoirs, published in 1956 as My Lord, What a Morning, Anderson wrote: “There seemed to be people as far as the eye could see. I had a feeling that a great wave of goodwill poured out from these people, almost engulfing me.” The programmeincluded several of her most brilliant numbers, the aria “O mio Fernando” from Donizetti’s La favorita, the “Ave Maria” by Schubert, spirituals, and finally, to an incredibly enthusiastic reception, the American national anthem. The memorable concert had other important consequences. It was a serious setback for the DAR, from which Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the American President at that time, immediately resigned following the incident, and it put an end to the discrimination suffered by the artist. She performed without opposition at Constitution Hall and became the first black singer to be engaged as a permanent member of the Metropolitan Opera. There on 7 January 1955, she appeared as Ulrica in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (with Zinka Milanov, Richard Tucker and Leonard Warren, under the baton of Dimitri Mitropoulos). She sang that role in eight performances at the Met and also performed there in a concert entitled Music of America (on 3 July 1965), in which she sang spirituals. Marian Anderson was the recipient of many honours, including an honorary doctorate from Howard University in Washington DC. She was a close friend of President Roosevelt and his wife and sang at the White House for the inaugurations of presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy…