Jussi of the Month

Jussi och Anna-Lisa at The Hollywood Bowl

 

 

From 3 January to 11 April 1949 Jussi toured the US and Canada and carried through around 40 concerts. After a three-month summer-stay at Siarö, interrupted by appearances at Skansen, Gröna Lund, Tivoli in Copenhagen and Furuvik plus some recordings with Nils Grevillius it was once again time to return to the US for a tour that lasted until 15 December. 


Frederick Schang och Jussi

 

Jussi’s promotor in the US, Frederick Schang, had drawn up a tour where Jussi and Anna-Lisa were to appear together. On 15 August they left together by air from Bromma Airport to open the US-tour on 23 August with a concert in Los Angeles at the gigantic outdoor arena Hollywood Bowl, seating more than 25,000 listeners.

In connection with the departure from Sweden, Jussi was surprised in the departure hall by the reporter Bill Artur from the Australian broadcast company ABC. The interview was taped and relayed by a radio station in Sydney 1950 in a programme entitled “World Famous Tenors”. This unique interview can be listened to by clicking the link.

Interview with Jussi on 15 August 1949 at Bromma Airport

 

Jussi and Anna-Lisa in "Symphonies Under The Stars"

On 16 August 1949 Jussi and Anna-Lisa landed in New York and 23 August it was time for them to appear for the first and only time at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in the legendary programme “Symphonies under the Stars”.

 

 

 

 

Hollywood Bowl was inaugurated in 1921 and is the biggest natural amphitheatre in the US, an outdoor arena seating more than 25,000 listeners. Traditionally the foremost artists within opera, classical music, pop, rock and jazz have been presented here. All the greatest opera singers have appeared here. Scandinavia has been represented by Jussi Björling (1949), Birgit Nilsson (1956), Lauritz Melchior (1940) and Kirsten Flagstad (1938). 

Through the years more than 500 opera performances have taken place here. Symphonies have been conducted by the greatest conductors. The very popular programme “Symphonies under the Stars” has taken place every year since 1922 and was broadcast since 1925.

On 23 August 1949 it was time for Jussi and Anna-Lisa to make their debut at the Hollywood Bowl before approx. 20,000 listeners in the programme “Symphonies under the Stars” which also was live broadcast on American radio. 


Izler Solomon
Together with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra under the American conductor Izler Solomon Jussi performed four solos and two duets with Anna-Lisa, who also sang two numbers of her own. In the concert Sibelius’s Symphony No 5 was also played. 

 

 

Unfortunately there are no photographs from the concert but instead some reviews that are reproduced below. All the numbers that Jussi and Anna-Lisa performed were recorded and some of them you can listen to if you scroll to the bottom of the page. 

Good Reviews

Jussi and also Anna-Lisa were enthusiastically reviewed in the big newspapers Los Angeles Herald Express and Los Angeles Times.

 

 

Music Review - Hollywood Bowl

 

By Mildred Norton

Toward the tag end of a sultry summer season not many surprises are in store for the persistent concert goer. However, last night the Hollywood Bowl concert held a couple of them—both highly pleasant.

One was the thrilling impact Jussi Bjoerling’s tenor tones packed as they came over the microphone. The other was the power and punch Sibelius Fifth Symphony packed as it emerged in a memorable reading by Izler Solomon.

Perhaps no one else in the fairly large audience felt the same degree of surprise as one who admittedly has always been anything but a Sibelius or a Bjoerling fan. Everyone, however, seemed to share an active enthusiasm for the entire program to judge by the whistles and cheers that greeted Bjoerling top notes, and the warm applause that rewarded Solomon for his truly remarkable reading of the symphony.

During the program’s second his blond and attractive young wife, Anna-Lisa, for three first act excerpts from “La Boheme”, joined half the Swedish-born tenor. These, which included Madame Bjoerling’s singing of “Mi Chiamano Mimi” the tenor aria, “Che Gelida Manina” and the love duet, “O Soave Fanciullla,” so enraptured the audience that the vocal twosome was kept busy with encores for a long while thereafter.

The microphone performs for Bjoerling’s voice the same miracle that one finds on his recordings. The disturbing unevenness between vocal register and the occasional roughness in outline are smoothed away until the remains only the pure, thrilling quality of a voice which, in any circumstances, can number some of the finest tones to be heard today.

His singing of Handel’s “Ombra Mai Fu” immediately proves that he was in his best vocal form, able to give poised, dramatic, vocally compelling account of their broadly moving melodic line. Beethoven’s “Adelaide” sung with slightly less finesse, nevertheless emerged notably, with as superlative orchestral support from Solomon as this song surely ever met with. The moving tenor aria from Puccini’s “Turandot” also brought forth Bjoerling’s thrilling high tone which came over the microphone with telling impact. Madame Bjoerling also made a good impression, and revealed a full-bodied pliant soprano which she handled very well in solo, and which blended with that of her spouse for a fluent and touching love duet.

 

Los Angeles Herald Express

 

Bjoerling At Bowl - Swedish Tenor In Top Form

By Owen Callin

The occasional times we had heard Jussi Bjoerling on the opera or concert stage in the past always proved a bit disappointing, since he failed, in our estimation, to live up to his wonderful recording of the “Vesti La Giubba.”

But whether the Hollywood Bowl acoustics made the difference or whether he was his rarest of top forms last night, the Swedish tenor gave a performance that’s was immensely thrilling and without the necessity of anyone feeling disappointed.

The three-way combination of Bjoerling, his wife, Anna-Lisa, and Conductor Izler Solomon gave the Symphonies Under the Stars one of its more interesting and “compleat” evenings. The accent, of course, was on opera and on the Italian master of the school, Puccini.

The tenor’s warm-up vehicle was the “Ombra Mai Fu” from Handel’s “Xerxes” in which his sustained legato gave thrilling promise of what was in store. The Beethoven “Adelaide” was as competently sung, Bjoerling’s excellent control belieing the many difficulties of the song, his only bow to lieder, incidentally.

Music Review - Hollywood Bowl

By Mildred Norton

Toward the tag end of a sultry summer season not many surprises are in store for the persistent concert goer. However, last night the Hollywood Bowl concert held a couple of them—both highly pleasant.

One was the thrilling impact Jussi Bjoerling’s tenor tones packed as they came over the microphone. The other was the power and punch Sibelius Fifth Symphony packed as it emerged in a memorable reading by Izler Solomon.

Perhaps no one else in the fairly large audience felt the same degree of surprise as one who admittedly has always been anything but a Sibelius or a Bjoerling fan. Everyone, however, seemed to share an active enthusiasm for the entire program to judge by the whistles and cheers that greeted Bjoerling top notes, and the warm applause that rewarded Solomon for his truly remarkable reading of the symphony.

During the program’s second his blond and attractive young wife, Anna-Lisa, for three first act excerpts from “La Boheme”, joined half the Swedish-born tenor. These, which included Madame Bjoerling’s singing of “Mi Chiamano Mimi” the tenor aria, “Che Gelida Manina” and the love duet, “O Soave Fanciullla,” so enraptured the audience that the vocal twosome was kept busy with encores for a long while thereafter.

The microphone performs for Bjoerling’s voice the same miracle that one finds on his recordings. The disturbing unevenness between vocal register and the occasional roughness in outline are smoothed away until the remains only the pure, thrilling quality of a voice which, in any circumstances, can number some of the finest tones to be heard today.

His singing of Handel’s “Ombra Mai Fu” immediately proves that he was in his best vocal form, able to give poised, dramatic, vocally compelling account of their broadly moving melodic line. Beethoven’s “Adelaide” sung with slightly less finesse, nevertheless emerged notably, with as superlative orchestral support from Solomon as this song surely ever met with. The moving tenor aria from Puccini’s “Turandot” also brought forth Bjoerling’s thrilling high tone which came over the microphone with telling impact. Madame Bjoerling also made a good impression, and revealed a full-bodied pliant soprano which she handled very well in solo, and which blended with that of her spouse for a fluent and touching love duet.

 

Los Angeles Herald Express

 

Bjoerling At Bowl - Swedish Tenor In Top Form

By Owen Callin

The occasional times we had heard Jussi Bjoerling on the opera or concert stage in the past always proved a bit disappointing, since he failed, in our estimation, to live up to his wonderful recording of the “Vesti La Giubba.”

But whether the Hollywood Bowl acoustics made the difference or whether he was his rarest of top forms last night, the Swedish tenor gave a performance that’s was immensely thrilling and without the necessity of anyone feeling disappointed.

The three-way combination of Bjoerling, his wife, Anna-Lisa, and Conductor Izler Solomon gave the Symphonies Under the Stars one of its more interesting and “compleat” evenings. The accent, of course, was on opera and on the Italian master of the school, Puccini.

The tenor’s warm-up vehicle was the “Ombra Mai Fu” from Handel’s “Xerxes” in which his sustained legato gave thrilling promise of what was in store. The Beethoven “Adelaide” was as competently sung, Bjoerling’s excellent control belieing the many difficulties of the song, his only bow to lieder, incidentally.

 

Listen to some recordings from the concert at Hollywood Bowl on 23 August 1949:

Ombra mai fu, 5:18 min.

Adelaide, 8:24 min

Nessun Dorma, 3:27 min

O soave fanciulla with Jussi and Anna-Lisa Björling, 5:15 min.

 

 

 

 

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