David Björling

(For English text, see below)

Jussi Björlings far David var hans första lärare och hade avgörande betydelse för hans och hans bröder Olle och Göstas utveckling till sångare. David framträdde tillsammans med sina söner 1915-26 i den ensemble som han kom att kalla Björlingkvartetten.

Under en vistelse i Amerika 1899-1907 utbildades David Björling till operasångare och inledde sin karriär som konsertsångare. 1919-21 återvände han dit och turnerade från kust till kust med de tre sönerna.

Till 100-årsminnet av denna turné, som inleddes i oktober 1919, har Harald Henrysson, tidigare chef för Jussi Björlingmuseet, publicerat en tvåspråkig bok. Den har titeln "David Björling och hans söner i Amerika: En sångarfamiljs saga börjar, 1899 -1921". Den 158-sidiga boken är inbunden och illustrerad i svartvitt och färg. Utgivare: Förlags AB Björnen, Borlänge. Boken behandlar Davids båda amerikanska vistelser, med en omfattande kartläggning av hans framträdanden ensam och tillsammans med sönerna. Den stora framgången för deras märkliga turné återspeglas framför allt i mängder av pressklipp.

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Jussi of the Month September 2019

August–September 1930: Jussi’s debut at the Stockholm Opera

Many probably know that Jussi Björling’s first role in opera was in the tiny part of the Lamplighter in Manon Lescaut, a role which is only 18 bars long – admittedly most of them solo – in that opera’s third act. That was 21 July 1930, and the venue was of course the Stockholm Opera, or as it says on the poster “Kungl. Teatern” (an abbreviation for “Kungliga Teatern” – The Royal Theatre). The couple who were his landlords attended his performance, but it is said that the husband missed Jussi’s appearance as it lasted only about one minute.

According to the rules in those days such a small part did not count as a debut. Jussi like other singers had to make three debuts as proof of work in view of employment. This article deals with the first of those: Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni 20 August 1930 – one month after the Lamplighter. In the

meantime, he had performed the Lamplighter once more plus another minuscule part, so the debut was his fourth performance. But before we go deeper into that we need to understand the kind of employer the Stockholm Opera of those days was, into which successful debuts could provide entry.

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High C impressed at ”Kungsan”

The Jussi Björling Society’s summer concert at Kungsträdgården (Royal Garden) this year took place on Thursday 25 July at 1.15 p.m. It was a lovely day with sunshine and warmth, perhaps too hot for the singers I thought, when the temperature rose to +29° C. Fairly early the audience began to come flocking, and when concert time was approaching it was so crowded that more chairs and benches had to be carried in. Before the programme proper began, we listened to two Jussi Björling recording, first the duet “Solenne in quest’ora” from Verdi’s The Force of Destiny together with Robert Merrill, and after that Jussi on his own in Tosti’s ”L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra”.

Now we were in the right mood and it was time for the concert to begin. Stefan Olmårs, secretary of the Jussi Björling Society and compère of the day, entered the stage and welcomed everybody to the lunchtime concert.


Per Lindström
After that he introduced the musicians who were to entertain us, tenor Per Lindström, The Jussi Björling Society Prize Winner of 2019, baritone Bengt Krantz, Chairman of the Jussi Björling Society, and pianist

 

Anders Wadenberg, the accompanist of the day.

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Large donation to the Jussi Björling Society

Our long-standing member Kristina Åkerman Klaesson passed away two months before her 90th birthday. She bequeathed her large stock holding to ten recipients, getting one tenth each. The Swedish Jussi Björling Society is one of these and our share is approximately 202,000 SEK ( about 20 000 USD), which we acknowledge with great gratitude.


The Nineteenth Jussi Concert at Voxna Church


Ensemble 2019. From left: Lennart Eng, Lena Rieback, Bengt Krantz, Karin Mobacke, Per Lindström and Sabina Bisholt

With the old team in charge: Stefan Olmårs as compere, Lennart Eng at the concert grand, his daughter Maria turning the sheets and Lena Rieback as pianist for the local artist, the nineteenth Jussi Concert took place at Voxna Church on Monday 8 July. Jussi himself opened the proceedings gramophone wise with Sven Salén’s “Visa kring slånblom och månskära”, whereupon Bengt Krantz made his entrance with Idabelle Firestone’s “If I could tell you”, as an introduction to this year’s Prize Winner Per Lindström, who received the prize amounting to 60 000 SEK and an Orrefors vase, after Bengt had read his well-formulated statement of reasons for the prize. Per thanked for the prize by singing Sjöberg’s “Tonerna”.

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Recording lists updated

To the lists of Jussi’s recordings, 65 issues in different formats have just been added. Of special interest are new CDs in fine sound with two of his best live recordings as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut,

Pristine Audio PACO158 contains the Met performance of 31 March 1956 with Licia Albanese as Manon and Frank Guarrera as Lescaut, conducted by Dmitri Mitropoulos. 

Immortal Performances IPCD 1110-2 offers the Stockholm performance of 1 november 1959 where Jussi sings in Italian, the others in Swedish. Hjördis Schymberg is Manon and Hugo Hasslo Lescaut with Nils Grevillius conducting. That issue also has interesting bonuses, among them the never before released 1959 TV recording from the London Palladium, with Jussi in Turiddu’s farewell and E lucevan le stelle, his Nessun dorma! from Hollywood Bowl 1949 and a new transfer of the 1954 Söder Hospital Christmas concert.

Click here to get to Recording lists


Jussi of the Month May 2019

June 1956: Swedish National Day, Queen Elizabeth and Recording in Rome


Jussi at Skansen June 6, 1956
Jussi had spent most of the autumn, winter and spring in North America and among other things taken part in the legendary recording of Puccini’s La bohème in New York together with Victoria de los Angeles and Robert Merrill and with Sir Thomas Beecham as conductor. An appearance in Albert Hall in London in May has also been on the agenda before June dawned. Then he was thoroughly rested and could with confidence look forward to the traditional celebration of the Swedish National Day at Solliden at Skansen on 6 June. That Jussi was in top shape was confirmed in all the reviews that are preserved in the archive of the Jussi Björling Museum. I confine myself to quoting Lennart Swahn’s as usual so witty report:

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New ”thrilling” Manon Lescaut with Jussi issued.

It wasn’t long ago that we reported on our website that a double-CD will be issued with Jussi in a performance of Manon Lescaut at the Stockholm Opera in 1959 (scroll down for more information). Now another double-CD is coming up with Manon Lescaut with Jussi! This is a performance at the Metropolitan in 1956, now issued by Pristine.

The performance is brought out as the most thrilling of Jussi’s recordings of this opera.

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New Double-CD with Jussi!

Immortal Performances will soon issue a two-CD set with Jussi. It has already had two comprehensive positive reviews, click here.

The first CD contains Manon Lescaut fron the Royal Opera 1959 with Jussi. Hjördis Schymberg and Hugo Hasslo and is perhaps Jussi’s best recorded Manon Lescaut! The second CD contains songs and arias not previously issued to some great extent, incl. Förbi, Förbi (Kuda, kuda) from Eugene Onegin from Gothenburg 1960 and O holy night from Södersjukhuset 1954. The society will come back with information on how to buy the set most conveniently.

Click here for further information from Immortal Performances.


Jussi of the Month April 2019

Hislop helps Jussi find his top notes

In July 1934 23-year-old Jussi Björling was already well established at the Stockholm Royal Opera, and the previous summer his international career had started with a guest appearance at Tivoli in Copenhagen. This summer there were no less than five concerts there (11-21 July), and in connection with these an outdoor concert in Malmö’s "People’s Park" some days earlier. Many new roles at the Royal Opera in Stockholm were waiting. Among those we associate with the “grown-up” Jussi he had so far done the main parts in RigolettoRomeo and Julia and Tosca, and one solitary performance of Un ballo in maschera. In addition he had done a large number of parts he would later relinquish, like Alfredo in La traviata or Vladimir in Prince Igor – in fact one of the roles he sang the greatest number of times. Waiting for him now were Faust, Bohème, Il tabarro and La fanciulla del West, all of which he sang for the first time in the autumn of 1934.


Helga Görlin and Jussi from Faust 25 August 1934

 

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Jussi of the Month March 2019
Jussi in Helsinki and London, March 1955

In “Jussi of the Month” January 2019 we followed Jussi Björling to Helsinki and Tampere. But he was then already booked for new appearances at the Opera in Helsinki in March the same year, and then for a cause that was very important for Finnish opera lovers: the building of a new opera house in Helsinki. Opera had been played in Helsinki to and fro since the mid-19th century, but then by visiting opera companies. However, from 1873 the newly started Finnish Opera gave regular performances, until 1879, but then they had to close down the activities due to financial problems. It was revived in 1911 by Edvard Fazer, Oskar Merikanto and Aino Ackté. To begin with it was named the Domestic Opera but from 1914 until 1956 it was the Finnish Opera. The first years they played at the National Theatre, close to the Railway Station, but from 1918 they were located to the old Russian Alexander Theatre.  

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Jussi’s performance chronology

Jussi’s performance chronology is continually being expanded. A new version has just been published on this website by Harald Henrysson and Roger Alderstrand. Since the former version of April 2017, 27 performances have been added. As examples, dates and premises for the five latest found follow below:

330723             Helsingør / Helsingör / Elsinore (Denmark), Hotel Marienlyst.

450817             Örebro, Idrottsmässan / Sports Fair.

460914             Stockholm, Grand Hôtel Royal, Spegelsalen / Hall of Mirrors.

480929-2         København / Köpenhamn / Copenhagen, Den kongelige Skydebane / Kungliga skjutbanan / The Royal Shooting Association.

490725             Stockholm, Världssportutställningen / World Sports Exhibition.

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Per Lindström reciever of the Jussi Björling Society’s Prize 2019

At the annual meeting for the Jussi Björling Society on 2 February 2019 in Borlänge, the board announced that this year’s prize of 60,000 SEK will be awarded to young tenor Per Lindström. Statement of reasons:

“The tenor sphere provides a strong temptation for many prospective male singers. Few feel however from the beginning comfortable with the heavy demands for range, equalisation, tone quality, brilliance and beauty of the tenor repertoire. Few are, so to speak, born with the so called tenoral gift. This is something one has to acquire in due time with the goal of one’s dream in sight.

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Jussi of the Month February 2019

Auctioned rarity less mysterious than we first thought

One of the world’s leading record collectors each autumn publishes an auction list. In late 2018 it included a unique, private record of Jussi: a version of “Nessun dorma” from Turandot with a dedication and signature. The recipient of this 78 rpm disc had a name unknown to us or the auctioneer, and the record was privately made with the same contents on both sides. There was no applause but an English announcement at the end.


The object of the auction

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Jussi of the Month January 2019

Jussi was proud of being of Finnish descent and he visited Finland on numerous occasions. During the war he sang at charity concerts several times and in 1951 he was happy to meet Sibelius at his home in Ainola, outside Helsinki. After all the long tours for many years, not least across the North-American continent, he was at times rather tired of travelling, but to Finland he always travelled with pleasure, as he told a Finnish journalist. In January 1955 he had an opportunity to return to “the land of the thousand lakes”, but before that he was booked for a Tosca performance at the Stockholm Opera on 14 January.

The reviewers were moderately delighted with the choice of repertoire. Stockholms-Tidningen’s Lennart Swahn resorted to strong measures: “Jussi Björling sang his Cavaradossi on Friday night for the umpteenth time, which the opera manager would not like to remember. It is by all means utterly attractive to hear Jussi in the same role over and over again and find that he is as he usually is and thus there is no need to review him, but it is much more unattractive that the assumption is reasonable that the opera management definitely has decided to limit Björling’s narrow Stockholm repertoire to two or three tenor “Golden Eggs”. You’ve heard it before! Of course, but maybe the drops some time will hollow the stone at Gustaf Adolf Square and give us Jussi in an edition that we don’t know upside-down.” After this volley Swahn rounded off his article laconically: “Birgit Nilsson supported both Jussi and Sigurd Björling in her soon world famous manner. A good performance accordingly.”

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Jussi Björling Statue Sings O Holy Night

Central Borlänge was swarming with people, a rarity in itself, in the afternoon of Advent Sunday. It was the premiere Christmas window display, but towards half past three many gathered at Jussi Björling Square to witness for the first time Jussi Björling as street singer. The statue was discretely coloured in red through spotlight illumination. Rikard Rudolfsson, Chairman of the cultural committee, and Patric Hammar, head of culture and leisure in Borlänge, greeted the crowd to attend the re-inauguration of the square, after extensive renovation work.


Photo: Hasse Eriksson

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Jussi of the Month December 2018

Jussi does not hear Caruso

In September 2018 Göran Forsling wrote about the Björling brothers’ first visit to the US in 1919-21 . One episode which has always fascinated me and which he himself told about was when he and his brothers refused to hear Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Caruso undoubtedly was an idol for Jussi’s father David, and would later become one for Jussi as well. A direct connection would thus have symbolic importance. So how did it (not) come about?

The father and his three sons arrived in New York on 28 October, with an initial concert on 20 November. Harald Henrysson’s research tells us that they remained in New York throughout December for a total of eight concerts, three of them as excursions into nearby New Jersey. They would stay in the US until spring 1921.

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Jussi of the Month November 2018

After a long an intense spring season 1959, which began at the London Palladium on 4 January and was finished at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 May, and in between encompassed numerous travels across the American continent, Jussi was in need of winding down during the summer months. Besides a couple of minor assignments in the Town Hall, the traditional singing at Skansen on the National Day of Sweden and a concert at Gröna Lund, the amusement park in Stockholm, he was able to spend his time with his family at Siarö and catch a pike or two in the Siarö Strait. There was also a break for the recording of Puccini’s Turandot, together with Birgit Nilsson and Renata Tebaldi in Rome in July.

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American visitors to Strömsbruk

At the 13th annual Jussi Björling Festival at Strömsbruk on 1 – 2 September there was a special treat to have 25 members of the American Jussi Björling Society in the audience, celebrating their 20th anniversary. Their chairwoman Janel Lundgren was also there, together with our chairman Bengt Krantz and the British Society’s chairman Richard Copeman. Also present, to our delight, was Jussi’s daughter Ann-Charlotte and her husband.

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Jussi of the Month October 1940

Twelve and a half minutes from Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera with Jussi Björling from October 1940 may help us to understand something which has left few audible traces: his US performances in opera outside New York.


Old Met
Spring 1939 saw the end of Jussi’s fixed employment at the Stockholm Opera, where he had started his operatic career precisely nine years previously. He was now internationally recognized and in high demand, with the Metropolitan Opera 

House in New York as the centre of his activities.

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Jussi of the Month September 2018

The Björling Quartet in the US 1919 – 1921

When David Björling made his three sons Olle, Jussi and Gösta appear at a concert in the Trinity Church in Örebro on 12 December 1915, nobody could anticipate, least of all he himself, that the three boys (and David) during the next 12 years would carry through almost 1000 concerts throughout Sweden and also in the US. The start of the touring activities was of course delayed half a year, but after a settling-in period in July 1916 in the former hometown Borlänge, followed a month later by a handful of concerts in the neighbouring town Falun, the artist life was already in full swing. The first two years were primarily spent in Dalarna and the surroundings, but bit by bit they widened the circle. When David and the boys in autumn 1919 sailed off to the big country in the west they had already explored large parts of Mid-Sweden and were experienced artists and travellers.

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Lunchtime Concert at Kungsträdgården 2018

On 16 July The Jussi Björling Society and The Birgit Nilsson Society jointly arranged their annual summer concert at Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden) in Stockholm. On the stage photographical images of the two Swedish mastersingers looked out over the assembled people. Clas Remminger from The Birgit Nilsson Society greeted the audience and introduced the three vocal soloists: soprano Hanna Husáhr, born in Jussi Björling’s birthplace Borlänge, young tenor Manuel Bjelke, son of the late tenor Lennart Bjelke, and baritone Bengt Krantz, chairman of The Jussi Björling Society. They appeared in turns and together they presented a programme full of variety.

For further information, see review in Swedish.


The Eighteenth Jussi Concert at Voxna Church

A lot was the same as ever when the eighteenth edition of the concert honouring Jussi Björling, jointly arranged by The Jussi Björling Society and Ovanåker Parish, started. The first to appear was the magnificent bass Staffan Alveteg with a mighty aria from Handel’s “Messiah”. Next we encountered the young Norwegian soprano Ida Katrine Hagen Johansen, who sang “Jeg elsker dig” and Solveig’s sang”. She was followed by her compatriot and husband-to-be, tenor Bror Magnus Tødenes, last year’s Jussi Björling Prize Winner. He added to the Grieg repertoire with a brilliant and inward “En svane” and then captured everyone’s hearts with the most enchantingly beautiful reading of Sjöberg’s “Tonerna” imaginable. Time for change of scenes and now Lena Rieback took over the grand to accompany her disciples from Bollnäs Music and Drama, the musical artists Hanna Ingesson and Henrik Jingåker. One is amazed about the vocal resources and expressivity of these youngsters!

All the artists had encores up their sleeves. Among other things Bror Magnus and Ida Katrine executed the whole finale from act I of Puccini’s “La bohème”. Eventually they walked, arms lovingly around each other, out into the vestry, where they sang the final tones “off stage”, whereupon they called it a day by slamming the door. Compère Stefan Olmårs then put the love duet in the right context: “They will get married this Saturday!”

Later in the evening at Voxnabruk Mansion, Nils-Göran Olve had a conversation with Bror Magnus Tødenes, who had many wise points of view on his life as singer. The evening was rounded off by “Listen to Jussi” with Harald Henrysson as DJ. On Tuesday morning Nils-Göran recounted for the life of another great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti.

For further information see review in Swedish.


Jussi of the Month May 2018

May 1935

In May 1935, there was a festival atmosphere in Stockholm, since the wedding between Princess Ingrid of Sweden and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark would soon take place. On the first day of the month, Jussi made his first contribution to the royal frenzy with a special wedding record, carrying the portraits of the royal couple on the label.

The two tunes were Bröllopsvalsen (The Wedding Waltz) by the Dane Michael Christgau and Lilla prinsessa (Little Princess) by Georg Enders, born in Bohemia in 1898 but living in Sweden since 1921 and active as pianist, conductor and composer. The conductor was Sune Waldimir, as he had been in 1933 for four popular tunes with Jussi (two of them as "Erik Odde") and would be in 1944 for two special wartime songs, and in 1953 for the movie Resan till Dej (The Journey to You). Waldimir, whose actual name was Sune Engström, was in 1935 working as announcer and head of the gramophone department at the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, where he would later become conductor of Underhållningsorkestern (The Entertainment Orchestra).

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Jussi of the Month April 2018

When the war was over in 1945, Jussi and his agent were ready to start reconquering the American audiences, and it was a larded touring schedule Jussi and Anna-Lisa had before them when they in the beginning of October left Sweden. It was on 27 February 1941 that Jussi took farewell of the US with a performance of Rigoletto at the Metropolitan, and little did he anticipate then that it would be more than 4½ years before he could return. When he was back on the Metropolitan stage at the end of November it was again as the Duke in Rigoletto, but then he had already almost two months’ touring behind him.

And the travelling in all directions across the American continent continued during 1946, as far as the middle of May with concerts and opera performances sometimes every second evening. One week he was in Canada, the next week he was in Texas or California. There, in Fresno “we experienced a little adventure”, Anna-Lisa related in a newspaper article. “We awoke in the middle of the night from the whole house shaking. It was a real earthquake, albeit luckily a relatively small one.” She also remembered “a car journey through the famous Sequoia Forest, where we also had lunch in a gigantic Sequoia tree.”

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Jussi of the Month, March 2018

March 1951

In the Autumn of 1950, Jussi and Anna-Lisa Björling came to the USA in October, and he had sung until January at the Metropolitan (where Rudolph Bing was the new general manager). He had, for instance, sung in a new role, Verdi’s Don Carlo, at the season opening in November. After touring in the US and Canada, he was then back on March 3 to New York for his only concert of the season in that city.  That was the second of his 6 total concerts at Hunter College, and as usual, he was accompanied by Frederick Schauwecker.

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Jussi of the Month February 2018

February 1957


Birgit Nilsson and Jussi in Tosca on 20 January 1957
The opening of the year 1957 was a decidedly hectic period for Jussi. He was in the fire as early as on 3 January with a performance of Tosca, where he sang opposite Birgit Nilsson and Sigurd Björling, and continued with another five appearances at the Royal Opera. In between he also managed to squeeze in a guest appearance in Zurich, again with Nilsson and Björling in Tosca, and back home he spent two days in the Great Hall of the Stockholm Concert Hall, recording five opera arias with the Royal Orchestra and Nils Grevillius.

 

 

 

 

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Lars Björling has released a record

Jussi Björlings’ son Lars Björling has released a record called , “The Art of Singing: A Tribute to David Björling”. David Björling is grandfather to Lars Björling. You can read more about it and buy it by clicking here


Jussi of the Month, January 2018

January 1941

In January of 1941 Jussi had been in America since the previous October, for the first time without Anna-Lisa who had stayed home with the children. At the Metropolitan he had made his debut as Gustavus III (Riccardo) in Ballo on Dec. 2, and in January led off on the 8th with his 5th performance there of the same opera. As with the premiere and the broadcast of the December 13th perforamnce with Ettore Panizza conducting, Zinka Milanov sang Amelia and Stella Andreva Oscar. In January, Kerstin Thorborg sang Ulrica as she had at the premiere but not on the broadcast, and Francesco Valentino took over as Renato, following Alexander Svéd.

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New Unique CD With Jussi:

JUSSI BJÖRLING: RARITIES FROM OPERA, CONCERT AND RADIO

The CD contains five recordings on nineteen tracks, the playing time is just over 68 minutes. It includes a very interesting 11-page booklet in English with texts by Harald Henrysson, Stephen Hastings and Christer Eklund. The CD is sponsored by the American, Swedish and British Jussi Björling Societies. It can only be purchased via the societies!


Jussi and Kerstin Thorborg

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Jussi of the Month May 2017

On Saturday 2 May 1959 Ann-Charlotte Björling was confirmed at Engelbrekt Church in Stockholm. Jussi and Anna-Lisa had just returned home from New York and couldn’t manage to be present at the ceremony. Vicar Alvar Cedermark asked however Jussi whether he could imagine singing something at the morning service the next day, in connection with the confirmands’ first communion. He was willing to do that, and immediately after the ringing of bells he sang from the gallery Beethoven’s Song of Praise, “with eyes brimming over with emotions”, as those present could relate. According to other witnesses he also sang Land du välsignade.

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The documentation of Jussi Björling on this website has been essentially expanded in April 2017! 

There is now a detailed chronology, in English and Swedish, of his more than three thousand known performances (see ”About Jussi Björling / Performances”). A list of all opera companies he sang with, including the number of his performances with them, has also been added (see under ”Performances”:  ”Jussi in Opera”). At the same time, the list of his recordings has been updated once more.

The recorded performance where Jussi sings in this picture, can now, as an example, be found in two places:

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Jussi of the Month, April 2017

1949

April 1949 meant the end of a long American tour for Jussi and Anna-Lisa Björling. For Jussi, it had begun in October of the previous year (his wife joined him later). Jussi had sung with the San Francisco Opera and with the Met in New York,  also on tour with both companies. As usual he had a full schedule of concerts and on a few occasions he had been joined on stage by Anna-Lisa.

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Tenor Bror Magnus Tødenes recieved The Jussi Björling Society’s Prize 2017

“Norwegian tenor Bror Magnus Tødenes is the recipient of this year’s prize. Our hitherto youngest prize-winner, who moreover has Jussi Björling as his household god among singers. It may seem bold to recommend such a young candidate. But his prerequisites for future successes within the trade of singing appear to be extremely good. He has already attracted international attention and has been singing in both Salzburg and Vienna – cities closely associated with music and singing. At the age of 24 confirmation is decisively important and for that reason we want to draw attention to this promising tenor to a wider audience in this country and elsewhere.

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Jussi of the Month March 2017

In March 1953 Jussi had, together with music journalist Teddy Nyblom, planned a tour of France and Great Britain with both opera appearances and concerts. Unfortunately Jussi contracted throat problems, and his long looked forward to debut at the Paris Opera in his signature roles as Faust and Romeo had to be cancelled, to the great disappointment of the Parisians.

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Nicolai Gedda has passed away

By Bengt Krantz

Our cherished honorary member, Royal Court Singer Nicolai Gedda, is dead. A paralysing emptiness surrounds me while writing these words. As it often is with utterly alive people who are available through their recordings, thus it is also with Nicolai.

The immediate reaction on the news of his death was for me to at once play some favourite recordings and convince myself that an artistry like his, through the brilliant recordings from 1952 and all the way into the 21st century, can never really die.

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Jussi of the Month February 2017

February 1951

In February of 1951 Jussi Björling had been in the USA since October of 1950 together with Anna-Lisa. He had first sung at the Metropolitan, opening the season in a new role, as Verdi’s Don Carlo. This performance marked the beginning of Rudolf Bing’s leadership. Later the couple set off on a tour and on Februrary 2nd, when Jussi celebrated his 40th birthday, they were in Montreal for a joint concert, Jussi’s third there.

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Jussi of the Month January 2017

After some performances at the Stockholm Opera round the turn of the months August/September, Jussi spent the autumn 1956 in the US, where he appeared at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco and the Civic Opera House in Chicago, sandwiching the odd visits to Los Angeles and Detroit and a few concert appearances. The last one was on 11 December at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, and then he could return home after four intensive months ‘over there’ and celebrate Christmas and New Year in the bosom of the family.

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New CD with Jussi is praised

The newly released Jussi Björling Copenhagen Concert (JSP RECORDS JSP682) is the recording of the month on MusicWeb International. More can be read here.

 

We have earlier written about it here.

You can order the CD from Jussi Björlingmuseet or from our treasurer Per Bäckström: per.o.backstrom@outlook.com


Copenhagen Concert 1959 

Sensational discovery

We had hardly reckoned on some previously unknown recordings with Jussi Björling would crop up. The record companies have the last few years hovered radio archives and other sources on anything imaginable. But then there pops up a tape in excellent sound quality, recorded in Copenhagen on 15 October 1959 in the then brand new Falkoner Centret – a concert hall with superlative acoustics seating 2000 listeners. In the venue there was also a state-of-the-art recording equipment, which was employed to record most of what was happening there – and then the material was hidden in the archives – until now.

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Lyrics for some songs and arias

For the release in February 2016 of the CD JSP682, containing Jussi Björling’s 1959 Copenhagen concert and his 1952 Voice of Firestone broadcast, lyrics for songs and arias recorded with him are published on this website for the first time.


Lars Hemmingsson (1939 – 2015) is dead

He was one of the founders of Jussi Björlingsällskapet and was its Chairman 1995 – 2004 and after that Honorary Chairman. He was an amiable and witty person and his expressive presentations and interviews at the regular member meetings were highly appreciated. To the general public he was well-known as announcer at Swedish Radio, where he later became head of the broadcast management. Through his linguistic ability he was also a valuable member of the group for preservation of the purity of the language at Swedish Radio. 


Cavalleria reissued

The first of Jussi’s two studio recordings of Cavalleria rusticana , which was made in 1953 with Zinka Milanov and Robert Merrill, has been reissued by Sony from the original tapes, during the autumn of 2015  (RCA 88875054492).

 

 


Comments about Jussi Björling on Youtube

There is a very wide choice of Jussi-recordings at Youtube, maybe about one hundred. Many times the same recording is uploaded by several different users. There are millions of visitors, the most views have O Helga natt, amassing 2 million views, followed by Nessun dorma and the Pearl Fisher duet with 1.4 million respective 1.3 million views.

Visitors can leave comments and naturally the great majority are positive, in many cases overwhelming. Click on the link and you will find a number of comments to some recordings on Youtube.

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New issue of Trovatore praised

There are five live recordings of Jussi Björling as Manrico in Il Trovatore and one studio recording. The second live recording, from the Met January 1941, was reissued in September 2015 on CD by the Canadian label Immortal Performances (IPCD 1052-2). The critic Henry Fogel in Fanfare is as impressed by the sound as by Jussi’s performance. He thinks that the sound engineer Richard Caniell ”has performed his usual miracles with the sound restoration”, and that the sound ”comes shockingly close” to a professionally made 1941 studio recording.

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The Jussi Björling Museum moving

Update - The museum is not moving before 2020

The Borlänge Cultural Committee has decided to move the museum in connection with the building of a new art gallery in the library building. 
The newspaper Borlänge Tidning reported on 8 June:
Jussi Björling Museet"The Jussi Björling Museum will become a part of the new art gallery, which will use premises that are not leased today. … The committee considers that in Dalarna, a large modern art gallery is missing, where great importance is attached to modern art and design and art for children and young people… Now the cultural committee has unanimously accepted the plans, and the financing of the costs taken by the city will be through the committee’s budget. … The art gallery will become part of the library, with the premises directly connected. There is a plan for this, which one hopes might  be realized during the autumn..."

”I think it is important that new forms of art get close to Jussi Björling”, says Rikard Rudolfsson, chairman of the cultural committee. ”If plans for a future  congress and culture building should be realized, the library and the museum will be moved there. … What will happen to the building that is now housing the Björling Museum, is unclear. It might be sold, or it might be used for other activities.”

To the information in the newspaper might be added that is still unclear exactly what, or how large part of the building the museum would be able to use, and when a move might take place.


 

A complete new version of ”A Jussi Björling Phonography” available on the website.

All Jussi Björling’s recordings and their issues have been listed in Harald Henrysson’s ”A Jussi Björling Phonography” (second edition published in 1993). Since 2011, an updated version, including only issues on CD and DVD, has been available on the Björling Museum website and linked from this website. A print edition of that version was published in 2014.

In June 2015, a complete revised version has been published on these websites for the first time. Included are 39 complete operas and 628 separately recorded songs, arias and scenes. 3044 issues in twelve formats, from 78s to CDs and DVDs, are listed.

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Jussi Björling inducted to the Swedish Music Hall of Fame

For the second time new artists and musicians are inducted into Swedish Music Hall of Fame for significant contribution to Swedish music. Among the inductees are Jussi Björling. For more information, use the link and scroll down for the English version

Swedish Music Hall of Fame


Signed – Jussi’s Autograph

Items that have been signed by famous persons have always awakened great interest. Jussi Björling at seventeen had a well-developed signature that can only be characterized as elegant.

His autograph has today high rarity value. So why is his autograph so valuable? Read about this in Stephen Crowley’s article Jussi Björling’s Autograph by clicking the link below.

Stephen Crowley is Englishman and a member of the English Jussi Björling Society since its foundation. He is an inveterate record collector and has worked as dental surgeon.

 

Link to Stephen Crowley's article  Jussi                                                                 Bjorling’s autograph


Jussi in Gold Thread

THIS TAPESTRY REPRESENTING JUSSI was embroidered in gold thread by Britt Marie Jern from Åmål. She is a member of the Jussi Björling Society and made this out of pure love of Jussi. Britt Marie is otherwise a prominent sculptor with many official commissions. The size of the tapestry is 106 x 87 cm.


Visit the Archives

 

WELCOME TO HAVE A LOOK INTO THE ARCHIVES. There you will find selected items that have been published on our new homepage since it was introduced on 1 February 2014. You will find Jussi of the Month, what happened on our member meetings, you can browse through previous issues of our magazine, read about our summer concerts etc.

TO THE ARCHIVES


The Favourite Arias of the Audience?

THE AUDIENCES AT JUSSI’S CONCERTS had many favourites among all the opera arias he had in his repertoire. But there was one in particular that was the most requested. Which one? Listen to what Jussi had to say about this in a radio interview from 1958.

TO THE INTERVIEW.


The Jussi Björling Museum Special Price-List

Prices for Members of the Jussi Björling Society for the Full Assortment of the Museum, CD, DVD etc.

By clicking the link below you will get access to the Jussi Björling Museum Special Price-List for members of the Jussi Björling Society.

The price-list encompasses the full assortment of the museum and certain prices are extra reduced during the summer. Postage may be added.

Access the special price-list of the Jussi Björling Museum here


 

In Memory of an Exceptional Artist

WE WANT TO SHARE the beauty of Jussi Björling’s singing and tell about his fantastic career on this website.

Our Society cooperates with The Jussi Björling Society – USA and The Jussi Björling Appreciation Society (U.K.)

We recommend you to take part of information from these societies by clicking the links below.

The Jussi Björling Society - USA

The Jussi Björling Appreciation Society (U.K.)


One of the greatest ever

JUSSI BJÖRLING IS ONE of the greatest tenors ever. His life and his musical journey through life continues to fascinate generation after generation worldwide. He is loved, not only for his music, but also for being a human with strengths as well as weaknesses. Here is the story of his life.

 

Read more about Jussi here

Listen to Jussi

Watch filmed vocal items


Radio Interviews with Jussi

JUSSI VERY RARELY gave radio interviews. Here we have managed to collect seven of the so far known recorded interviews in chronological order, recorded 1951 – 1960 with playing time totalling ca. 53 minutes. Most of the interviews are in English.

LISTEN HERE


The Jussi Björling Society 

Support us in our activity to keep the memory of Jussi Björling alive!

To members:

Now it’s time to renew your membership in The Jussi Björling Society. Recently you received the latest issue of our membership magazine (only in Swedish) with information leaflet and paying-in form enclosed.

The subscription fee for 2016 is unaltered (see paying-in form). 

To prospective members:

You like Jussi, don’t you? In that case you should of course join our society!

Apply for membership here


Aida—Record News from Sony

THE 1955 STUDIO RECORDING of Aida where Jussi Björling is partnered by Zinka Milanov, Fedora Barbieri, Leonard Warren och Boris Christoff, is generally regarded as one of the best ever, and it is the only Aida preserved with Jussi.

Read more about the recording here


Filmed features with Jussi

HERE YOU WILL FIND a great number of filmed features with Jussi, recorded 1937 – 1957.

14 filmed recordings with Jussi in top-shape, mainly recorded at Jussi’s appearances on American TV during the early and mid-fifties.

Watch Jussi here

 

 

 


Jussi Goes Commercial 

JUSSI’S GREAT  POPULARITY meant that his name was exploited commercially in advertisements for various products, like throat pastilles, razor blades, pianos and even beds!

Watch a selection of adds here 


 

 

 

The Jussi Björling Society

The Jussi Björling Society was founded on January 7, 1989. Its task is to promote interest in and spread knowledge about Jussi Björling, his vocal art, life and career.

More about The Society


Join the Society

HERE you can quickly become a member of The Jussi Björling Society. You will receive our magazine, newsletters and invitations to events and gatherings. The annual fee is 250 SEK.

More about the membership


Welcome to the American and British Jussi Björling Societies 

 

Please click the banner.

 

 


Jussi Favourites of the Board Members

Hans Thunström presents his favourite recording.

Read about and listen to the favourite


The Jussi Björling Museum

Jussi Björling Museet

The Jussi Björling Museum Greets You!

 

BORLÄNGE  is the place where Jussi Björling was born. Here is also his own museum, the only Björling Museum in the world. "Of all singers' museums, this is the best", accordning to the late John Steane, noted British music critic.

 

Opening hours
Winter season  September–May working days Thuesday - Friday 12-17

June - August

Monday - Friday 11-18
Saturday 10-14
Sunday 12-17
Closed on June 6, Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day

 

Link to The Jussi Björling Museum