Marian Anderson:  A Portrait        (Kosti Vehanen)
Item# B1007
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Marian Anderson:  A Portrait        (Kosti Vehanen)
B1007. Kosti Vehanen. Marian Anderson: A Portrait. New York, Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill, 1941. 270pp. Photos.


“In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The District of Columbia Board of Education declined a request to use the auditorium of a white public high school. As a result of the ensuing furor, thousands of DAR members, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, resigned.

The Roosevelts, with Walter White, then-executive secretary of the NAACP, and Anderson's manager, impresario Sol Hurok, then persuaded Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes to arrange an open air Marian Anderson concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The concert attracted a crowd of more 75,000 of all colors and was a sensation with a national radio audience of millions.

The concert mentioned above was held on Easter Sunday in 1939. Anderson was accompanied by the Finnish accompanist Kosti Vehanen, who introduced Marian to Jean Sibelius in 1933. Sibelius was overwhelmed with Anderson's performance and asked his wife to bring champagne in place of the traditional coffee. At this moment Sibelius started altering and composing songs for Anderson, who was delighted to have met a musician of his magnitude, who felt that she had been able to penetrate the Nordic soul.”

- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 April, 1939

“Kosti Vehanen was a Finnish pianist and composer. As a pianist he performed in more than 3,000 concerts on four continents. While he did perform as a concert soloist with major symphony orchestras and performed in recitals, he is best remembered for his prolific work as an accompianist with some of the most important singers of the first half of the 20th century. Vehanen penned several memoirs, including the 1941 book chronicling his decade long experience serving as Marian Anderson's accompanist.”

- Zillah D. Akron