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Lebendige Vergangenheit - Modest Menzinsky

Artist Modest Menzinsky
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Modest Menzinsky
Release Date 2006-09-08
Genre Classical > Choro
Copyright © Preiser Records
Country AUSTRIA

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Modest Menzinsky was born an Austrian citizen on April 29th 1875 at Nowosiolsk which lies in the Western part of the Ukraine but then was called Galizia and belonged to the Austrian Monarchy. Menzinsky's father, like all his male ancestors, was a priest of the Greek-Catholic Church and he himself, the only boy in a family with six children, was determined to follow his father's footsteps. While studying theology at the University of Lemberg he sang and played in various restaurants to earn some money and conducted the University's student choir. At that point he had been taking singing lessons for quite a while with Walerian Wysocky who also was the teacher of such famous artists as Salomea Kruszelnicka, Elena Zboinska-Rukowska, Adam Didur and Josef Mann. It was his teacher who gave the final impulse to seriously concentrate on a .professional singing career and in autumn of 1899 Menzinsky moved to Frankfurt am Main where the then 73 year-old Julius Stockhausen taught at the Conservatory. Stockhausen had adapted the singing method of Manuel Garcia, the younger to the German language. lt aimed at increasing both volume and vocal range especially that of tenor voices but was exclusively based on French vowels. This technique enabled him to build up powerful and solid voices which W'3re able to effortlessly rise above even heavy Wagner-orchestrations. Georg Anthes, Cornelis Broonsgeest, Baptist Hoffmann, Anton van Rooy and Karl Scheidemantel were only some German and Dutch singers who successfully used this method. Menzinsky studied with Stockhausen for four years and made his debut on September 18th 1901 as Lyonel in "Martha" at the Opera House of Frankfurt. During the following year he mainly sang roles from the French and Italian repertoire: "Faust", "La Juive", "Aida", "Trovatore" and some Wagner roles such as Lohengrin, Tannhäuser (with a total of 165 performances the role he sang most often), "Meistersinger" and "Walküre". The next station was Ebersfeld where he stayed for two years and completed his studies. His engagement at the Stadttheater Ebersfeld also made possible performances outside of Germany: on October 24th 1903 Menzinsky took over on short notice a performance of "Lohengrin" for Arvid Ödman at the National Opera House of Stockholm which was to become his future artistic home. Upon hearing him personally Cosima Wagner worked with Menzinsky on his interpretations and recommended him to Felix Mottl in Karlsruhe. Wherever the artist appeared the respective opera houses tried to secure his services for a longer period of time but only in 1904 did the Stockholm Opera House succeed in taking him under contract for the following six years, with the exception of the 1908/09 season. In 1905 he married and settled down in Stockholm and quickly not only learned the Swedish language but restudied roles such as Florestan, Erik, Otello and Masaniello in Swedish. He took over the roles of both Siegfrieds in the Swedish premieres of "Siegfried" (December 12th 1905) and "Götterdämmerung" (February 2nd 1907) and was highly acclaimed on both occasions. Although he officially became a Swedish citizen in 1910 the Stockholm Opera House was not able to hold the singer for much longer. In 1908 Menzinsky had already sung "Bajazzo", "Lohengrin" and "Tannhäuser" in Berlin and made a record test-pressing. He signed a contract with the Cologne Opera House in 1910 and although offers from the Vienna Court Opera House poured in after a guest appearance in 1914 he stayed in Cologne until 1926. Menzinsky's last role before leaving the operatic stage was Eleazar in "La Juive" on October 29th 1927 but he remained active as a concert singer. Among the 53 roles which he sang in different languages were numerous contemporary works: Pfitzner's operas "Der arme Heinrich" (1912), "Die Rose vom Liebesgarten" (1916/17) and "Palestrina" (1920/23) as well as "Die Gezeichneten" (1920/21), "Der Schatzgräber" (1921/22) and "Irrelohe" (1924) by Franz Schreker. Modest Menzinsky intensely devoted himself to teaching - of his numerous pupils Ame Sunnegardh deserves special mention: he later was to become professor at the Stockholm Music Conservatory where his pupils included Birgit Nilsson, Erik Saeden, Helge Brilioth and Kerstin Meyer. In 1934, only few days before his 59th birthday Menzinsky gave his last concert on Swedish Radio Broadcast. Little later he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage which left him partly paralysed. Although he recovered from the first one, a second haemorrhage caused his death on December 11th 1935. Modest Menzinsky not only possessed a big and unusually beautiful tenor voice - the here included titles with their different stylistic demands show that he was a singer of great intellect and every inch a conscious and scrupulous artist.