Jussi Bjorling               (4-WHRA 6036)
Item# V1812
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Product Description

Jussi Bjorling               (4-WHRA 6036)
V1812. JUSSI BJÖRLING: Broadcast Concerts, 1937 – 1960, incl. Songs by Adam, Alfvén, d’Hardelot, Foster, Geehl, Strauss, Tosti, Grieg, Leoncavallo, Nordqvist, Morgan, Peterson-Berger, Glover, Rangström, Sjögren, Söderman, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, etc.; Arias & Duets (w.Albanese, Sayão, Steber, Tebaldi, Moore, etc.) from Jocelyn, Faust, L’Africaine, Manon, Roméo, Der Bettelstudent, Princess Pat, Marta, Aïda, Il Trovatore, Forza, Tosca, Pagliacci, Cavalleria, Andrea Chénier, La Gioconda, La Boheme, Manon Lescaut, Maytime, Eugen Onégin & Lohengrin. (E.U.) 4-West Hill Radio Archives WHRA 6036, Broadcast Performances from General Motors Concert, Voice of Firestone, Ford Sunday Evening Hour, The Pillbox, Bell Telephone Hour, Sweden in Music, Standard Hour, NBC TV, Producer’s Showcase, Skansen Open Air Concert, Gothenburg Concert Hall, San Francisco Opera, etc. Transfers by Seth B. Winner. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 5425008377278


“There is more to these four compact discs that meets the eye….Aficionados who collect recordings of Jussi Björling may wish to know that this set contains many items new to the catalogue. Those which have been previously released are in greatly improved sound, correctly pitched and with minimal extraneous noise. In fact, on many of these tracks, the reproduction of the voice and its balance with the accompaniment surpasses some present day recordings….This large-scale survey of Björling’s work demonstrates the unchanging timbre of his voice and the consistency of his vocal style and musicianship across the years….It can be recommended with confidence to anyone who enjoys fine tenor singing.”

- Robert Bunyard, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2010

“One of the greatest singers of the twentieth century, [Björling’s] career is well documented in his legacy of recordings and in music literature….His voice serves as a model for singers all over the world."

- Richard T. Soper, NORDIC VOICES

“In the mid years of the twentieth century Jussi Björling could lay fair claim to be the world’s finest lyric tenor. His is what may be described as a central voice – instantly recognisable and, to use a perhaps overworked description, unique….The contents of this four-disc set are largely drawn from broadcast concerts, mostly given in the USA….The support given to the project by the Jussi Björling estate as well as family members makes an obvious point in the context [of limited availability]…. There is a wealth of live recordings from opera houses and concert halls. So what is special about this new set? First, it is a fascinating documentation of time and place. Most of the concerts date from 1945-51 and could originally be heard on various US radio stations….As well as the solo items these CDs include duets with the sopranos Licia Albanese, Anna-Lisa Björling, Bidú Sayão, Eleanor Steber and Renata Tebaldi. Steber’s warm lyrical voice is heard to great effect in the ‘Miserere’ from IL TROVATORE….Perhaps, though, the finest of the duets is from ROMÉO ET JULIETTE with Sayão – perhaps a taster for those who have not heard it in a complete live performance from the Metropolitan(NB: OP1979). Indeed for those who know Björling’s commercial recordings made in the 1930s for HMV it is remarkable how little change there was in his basic vocal attributes, range and timbre. Little more than a month after the Gothenburg [1960] broadcast, the great tenor was dead….The CDs also include a variety of songs in different genres: I cannot resist in this context mentioning Björling’s delightful rendering of ‘Jeanie with the light brown hair’….All told this excellently engineered set is certain to give immense pleasure to fervent collectors of everything recorded by Björling, to those yet to be convinced and perhaps also to those with nostalgia for the live performance particularly in the earlier days of radio.”


“Jussi Björling was one of the most admired tenors of the twentieth century. He was never an effective actor on stage nor was he particularly handsome, but his excellent technique, scrupulous musicianship, and beautiful voice, with its powerful and focused top, made him one of the most-demanded stars of his day. Those with a fondness for such comparisons consistently called him ‘the second Caruso’ or ‘the Swedish Caruso’. Some found his rather smooth timbre inexpressive, particularly those used to Gigli's frequent use of sobs and other extra-musical effects, but others found that its directness, combined with his sensitivity to phrasing, made the music all the more expressive. At times he did have a tendency to sing slightly sharp, but to listeners without an acute sense of pitch it was almost undetectable.

Björling came from a musical family and began his career early - his singing début came at the age of five. His father, David, was a fine singer who formed the Björling Male Quartet with the older three boys, Olle, Jussi, and Gosta. They performed world-wide, made some recordings for American Columbia (including Jussi's first solo recordings), and settled in the United States in 1920. While they were wildly popular, they had financial problems, and when David Björling died in 1926, the quartet broke up.

In 1928, Jussi succeeded in getting an audition with Karl-Martin Oehmann. Oehrmann was so impressed that he recommended Björling to the Royal Opera in Stockholm, where he was given a stipend for room, board, studies at the conservatory, and a new suit. Two years later, Björling made his operatic début as the Lamplighter in Puccini's MANON LESCAUT and took on his first leading rôle a month later as Don Ottavio in DON GIOVANNI. In 1933, he first sang the role of Roméo in Gounod's ROMÉO ET JULIETTE, a rôle with which he would later become strongly associated. He met Anna-Lisa Berg, a lyric soprano, while at the Swedish Music Academy and Royal Opera school, and their marriage lasted until his death, despite the alcoholism that troubled his entire adult life.

He made his Vienna début in 1936, his United States début in a Carnegie Hall concert in 1937 (his United States operatic début was a short time later that same year, as the Duke of Mantua, in Chicago), and his Salzburg début as Don Ottavio in DON GIOVANNI. In 1936, he also began a long recording association with HMV. He made his Met début in 1938 in LA BOHÈME and in 1939 his Covent Garden début as Manrico. Like those of most other opera singers, his international career was limited by World War II, but when the war was over, he again sang all over the world. In 1950, he took the title rôle in the famous Met production of Verdi's DON CARLO that inaugurated Rudolf Bing's administration. As his career expanded and he was able to be more selective about his stage rôles, he began to limit his repertoire to the major Italian and French lyric rôles, with a few forays into the lyrico-spinto repertoire. However, he recorded and performed in concert excerpts from many rôles he had never explored on stage, as well as lieder and his beloved Swedish songs.

In March of 1960, Björling had a heart attack before a performance at Covent Garden. While he chose to finish the performance, his symptoms became still more serious, and he and his family returned to Sweden, where he died that September.”

- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com