Jussi Björling Conference in Chicago 2021

Our sibling society, the Jussi Björling Society-USA, will organize a Jussi conference in Chicago April 8-10, 2021. Note it in the calendar right now, it seems to be pure dream trip!


Chicago skyline

Invited speakers include Stephen Hastings, Andrew Farkas, Harald Henrysson, Nils-Göran Olve, Henry Fogel, Conrad Osborne, Fred Plotkin and representatives of the Chicago Tribune, and of course the Lyric Opera, among others. Walter Rudolph will serve as master of ceremonies. Anders, Lars and Ann-Charlotte Björling are invited guests, as well as honorary advisory board member Javier Camarena, also a tenor. 

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Jussi of the Month October 2020

October 1938: L’africaine, and more

On the surface, Jussi Björling’s month of October 1938 resembled most other months since he became a member of the Royal Stockholm Opera’s ensemble in 1930: a new role, a number of performances at its home base at Gustav Adolf’s square, some elsewhere, and a gramophone session. Business as usual for a full-time employee, with walking-distance home, and with long-time colleagues. After returning from his debut at the Metropolitan in New York on 24 November there would be a similar period in February–April. But by then he would have become recognized as an international celebrity, and he would make his final appearances as an employee of the Stockholm Opera.

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Tour of the Jussi Björling Museum

"When the museum goes towards unknown fates, it's nice to have this video left." Ulla Moulvad visited the museum in 2017 and filmed it and posted it on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm4dIBE_UFk&feature=youtu.be

More about the museum's future can be read by scrolling down.


60 years ago since Jussi Björling died


Skansen, Stockholm, 20 August was the last concert
On September 9, 1960, Jussi died in his sleep while staying on Siarö, his beloved summer place. He had had heart problems for a few years then. Jussi's death and funeral were noticed around the world.

If you could sum up his work in a few words, it could be - Jussi was the tenor of the tenors.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
His last studio recording was Verdi's Requiem in June 1960. Listen to "Ingemisco" from that moment.

Jussi of the Month September 2020

September 1942

During the war years Jussi was mainly confined to his home country, but that didn’t imply that he was inactive. On the contrary he was in great demand, both as concert singer and as guest at the Stockholm Opera. Certain period he was also field artist, singing for the soldiers. Besides that there were still opportunities to appear in Europe, although in limited extent. 1942 was such a year, which will be elucidated in this article.

Spring and summer of 1942, he was almost overburdened with engagements all around Sweden, from 20 May at Furuvik to the finale at Tivoli at Gröna Lund on 27 August. Before the latter the press could report: “135 000 people have heard Jussi Björling so far during this year’s summer tour – how much this figure will increase tonight is uncertain, but that there will be several thousand can be taken for granted, since Jussi tonight sings once again at Tivoli, and one can count on the same success as last time, when the whole space was filled with people and outright southern hat-throwing scenes took place after the concert. Tonight is moreover the last opportunity for a long time to hear our great singer. After the concert Jussi Björling will take a good rest in the archipelago and in September he goes to Copenhagen and after a couple of guest appearances at the Opera in Stockholm he goes to Budapest and Vienna.”

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The Future of the JB Museum Ventilated Again

A few years ago Borlänge Kommun brought up the issue of the future of the museum, its premises and contents.  Those concerned, including the family and the Jussi Björling Societies, sent this spring an extensive document with viewpoints and questions. The authorities replied vaguely after some months. Recently Borlänge Tidning, the local daily, has taken an active interest in the matter in two articles, the gist of which is described below.

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Jussi of the Month May 2020

Operetta discs May 1938

To us the most important thing about Jussi Björling’s May 1938 is that on the final two days of that month he recorded some of his most beloved records, in particular an aria from Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student) which he sang in Swedish as ”Nu är jag pank och fågelfri” – “Now I am broke and an outlaw”. That text may astonish some who are not familiar with Millöcker’s operetta, as the song is extremely happy – but we’ll come back to that. The song is a frequent request when we play Jussi records at meetings of the Swedish Jussi Björling Society. Its abundant enthusiasm, his use of the text, a phenomenal inserted extra-high note at the end: no wonder that it long was a favourite on radio and was included in many Jussi compilations on record. Now it is easily found on Youtube and streaming services.


The current edition from 1938
Internationally it was however long something of a secret among collectors of vocal records. Like its reverse side as a 78, Paris’s entrance song from Offenbach’s La belle Hélène (The Beautiful Helen), it was sung in Swedish and only issued for the domestic market. It would take thirty years before it was included in commemorative LPs and CDs, and enthusiasts then started to

 

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Kerstin Meyer in memoriam

Only 66 days after the passing of Margareta Hallin, I have the painful duty to announce that still another Honorary Member has died.

The opera- and concert singer, Kerstin Meyer, also Royal Court Singer and professor, has left our mortal life on the 14th of April at the age of 92.

A cheerful, curious, sympathetic and lovable representative of the Singers Guild has left us. By that passing, we lose one of the last important Swedish singers who sang together with Jussi Björling, a part of eternity.

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Jussi of the Month is set for April 2020

Due to the grueling Covid-19, the article on Jussi of the Month April 2020 may be postponed until further notice.


Jussi of the month March 2020

March 1935: a normal month’s work


Portrait of Jussi by Verner Molin 1935
The Stockholm Opera’s new star tenor probably experienced March 1935 as an average month’s work. He had turned 24 in the previous month. In December 1934 he and Anna-Lisa had announced their engagement, and the marriage was booked for June. According to Harald Henrysson 1935 would be the year he performed the greatest number of times he ever would: 144!

Like most months recently March included one new role for Jussi Björling which must have required rehearsals. He recorded a disc with two arias, which show remarkable developments since

 

his latest exactly one year earlier

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New honorary member of The Jussi Björling Society 2020


Sue and Harald
It is with happiness and respect we welcome Susan Flaster as new honorary member in The Jussi Björling Society. Although Sue, as most people call her, lives in Charleston, South Carolina, she has spent a lot of time in Sweden, not least in Säter, Dalecarlia,

where she spends some time of the year and lives and works with her Swedish husband, Harald Henrysson. Both has a strong connection in Jussi Björling´s life and achievement. And Sue has also meant a lot to our sister society, The Jussi Björling Society – USA, where she has been both chairman and secretary. She is still active in the American society and deals with contacts and distribution of records and books. Sue Flaster is the twenty-sixth in the row of the society´s honorary members. Welcome!


Margareta Hallin dead

The coloratura soprano Margareta Hallin, born in 1931 and one of the most accomplished Swedish singers of her time, died today 9 February. In her later years, she also took up career as a - self-taught - composer. After several years at the Royal Swedish Opera, she sang at Glyndebourne, Florence, Vienna, Hamburg, Moscow, Covent Garden and Copenhagen, but not in the US.

She never appeared in opera with Jussi, but she took part with him and other Royal Opera soloists in the Gröna Lund concert 9 June 1960, when the picture was taken. Jussi stands between her and Hjördis Schymberg. Recordings of duets with Jussi were planned in 1960 but prevented by his death. Hallin received Jussi Björlingstipendiet (The Jussi Björling Award) in 1970.

 

 


Jussi of the Month February 2020

Laborious Opening of the Leap Year 1932 for Jussi

When January 1932 dawned, less than one and a half year had passed since Jussi made his debut at the Stockholm Opera and he had already learned 14 roles. Several of these were minor roles, but a number were rather extensive: Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Arnold in Guillaume Tell and Jonathan in Carl Nielsen’s Saul og David were his three official debuts and after that Walther von der Vogelweide in Tannhäuser, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer, Count

 

Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Narraboth in Salome had been added. Undeniably a rather assignment for a youngster who not yet reached lawful age. At that you didn’t reach that age until you were 21, and Jussi had still a good month to get there when the New Year’s Bells tolled.

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Jussi of the Month January 2020

Debut number three January 1931

Two earlier “Jussi of the Month” discussed the system of three debuts as an entry requirement to be employed by opera houses in the past. For Jussi this had importance in the autumn of 1930 when he simultaneously still was a student at the Royal Music Conservatory in Stockholm and already had been contracted as a stipendiary at “Kungliga Teatern”, then the official name of the Stockholm Opera. When he made his first debut in August that year he was just 19½. It was as Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni which was performed in Swedish as Don Juan. Debut number two was between Christmas and New Year’s Eve as Arnold in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, or Wilhelm Tell. Even though we can read that he the same month was awarded the Conservatory’s jeton or medal at its finishing ceremony, something given only to its best students, he seems to have followed some of its teaching during the following months, and taken part in some student concerts. At the same time he would start his employment with the Opera in earnest. This came to last for ninth seasons: 1930/31 as a stipendiary and from summer 1931 until summer 1939 on a regular contract. In total he did fifty roles, big and small, before relinquishing his fixed employment. Of course he continued as a guest artist until his death 1960, but during this long time he added only two new roles (plus one more on records).

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Jussi of the Month December 2019

Debut number two December 1930

In an earlier “Jussi of the Month” I told how Jussi Björling took his first steps in front of an audience on an operatic stage at the Stockholm Opera in July 1930. I also explained the custom of three debuts, and how it was unique that a 19½-year-old pupil of the Opera School was already considered ready for a debut. The first one was on 20 August 1930 as Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, given under the name of Don Juan. Of course it was “the boss”, the Opera’s general manager and Jussi’s teacher John Forsell, who took that rash decision.

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Jussi of the Month November 2019

About November 1959

I have already dealt with the autumn of 1959 in Jussi of the Month November 2018, but when I now return there it is from a somewhat different perspective, which may perhaps offer a further dimension to the artistry of Jussi. That Jussi’s plans for that autumn were thwarted through illness and limited to a small number of appearances has been mentioned earlier, but it interesting to realise that almost all of those appearances were recorded and, at least partially issued on records. On 20 August he gave a concert at Gröna Lund (issued on Bluebell ABCD 114). At the end of September he was in Rome and recorded Madama Butterfly with Victoria de los Angeles. In spite of some heart trouble the recording was carried through, but it was not issued until after his death. In 1961 it was awarded a Grammy for best opera recording (Warner Classics 7636342).

Click here to listen to the love duet from Madama Butterfly with Victoria de los Angeles 1959

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Jussi of the Month October 2019

InUS October 1949

The autumn of 1949 Jussi spent mainly on the American west coast and as early as the end of August he headed for Los Angeles and an outdoor concert in the gigantic Hollywood Bowl, which seats around 25,000 listeners. This time his wife Anna-Lisa accompanied him and they made several appearances together, including a concert in Honolulu on Hawaii. In the press the couple was portrayed with flower garlands around their necks. In due time, towards the end of September, Jussi also took part in the season premiere at the San Francisco Opera, where he sang in Tosca opposite Elisabetta Barbato and Lawrence Tibbett and in La bohème opposite Licia Albanese.

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An improviser among belcanto singers

The Jussi Festival at Strömsbruk 31 August – 1 September 2019

For the 14th time the Jussi Björling Society arranged their Jussi Festival at the small factory village Strömsbruk. This time Jussi’s three children Anders, Lars and Ann-Charlotte were present, which added to the festivity feeling.

From 3 p.m. Ströms Bruksorkester, a local wind band, under Rolf Hedvall, treated the audience to well-played and entertaining music while the listeners assembled.

 


Ströms Bruksorkester

 

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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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Jussi of the Month October 2018

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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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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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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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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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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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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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.


 

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 for 2021 is 275 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 11-17
Saturday 11-15
Sunday 11-15
Closed on June 6, Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day

 

Link to The Jussi Björling Museum