JUSSI BJÖRLING LIVE, $45 including shipping and handling
For the first time, most of Jussi Björling's US radio and
TV performances have been gathered together on 4
brilliantly-remastered CDs, including previously unreleased
performances.The splendid 32-page booklet contains essays
on Björling's US career, the Swedish view of Björling's US
activities, and previously unpublished photos. This elegant
set is only available to members of the Jussi Björling
Membership in the Society is on a calendar-year basis;
individual membership is $35; family memberships are $50.
Please send checks made out
to JBS-USA to Dan Shea, at
Middleton, WI 53562
Jussi Björling introduced
himself to America not by his ﬁrst performances at the Metropolitan
Opera starting in 1938, but rather in a
remarkable series of three nationwide radio broadcasts made during
1937, on November 28 and December 5 and
19. As you can hear from a few surviving
recordings made of those broadcasts, the
26-year-old tenor’s brilliant voice and innate musicality projected beautifully via
the microphone and the resulting attention
enabled him to get a quick start to what became his major career
in this country.
Interestingly, the radio network that produced those three
concerts apparently managed to record all three of them, but to date the known recordings of the ﬁrst and
third concerts have not survived well and do not
provide very pleasurable listening. (Of
course we are glad to have at least some trace of announcer Milton
Cross’s warm introduction of young Jussi
and of his performance of arias from Bohème and Rigoletto as well
as a duet from Cavalleria
rusticana with Maria Jeritza from the ﬁrst concert, and of “Celeste Aïda” and
“Land, du välsignade,” apparently from the
third concert, whatever their condition!)
Unfortunately the early aluminum discs that were used for
recording at that time were easily ruined by repeated playback with blunt needles, and it seems to have been the very
attractiveness of Jussi’s singing that may have
doomed many of the recordings of that singing.
But luckily at least one copy of a recording of the December
5 concert did survive in reasonably good condition, thanks to a Swedish-American collector who made a copy
available to the Swedish Radio’s archive. And thanks to Harald Henrysson’s connections to that archive, and the
always-helpful cooperation of the Björling Museum
in Borlänge, we now can make available Jussi’s performances in that second concert in what
seems the "best-available" known recording.
The JB Society has been working for most of the
past decade to recover quality sources for recordings of the radio broadcasts made by the great Swedish tenor during his visits to
America during the years 1937 to 1959. Thanks to
the essential support of collectors in the US and Sweden, and to the Björling Museum
and its past and present curators, as well as to
the cooperation of the Björling family, considerable progress
has been made in this task of collecting
the best-possible broadcast sources. It's a wonderful story of
friendly cooperation, not always to be
assumed among collectors of this genre of recordings!
Good sources are important, but the latest technology of sound engineering can lead to
dramatic improvements, and we are fortunate to
have one of today’s leaders in the ﬁeld, Seth Winner, as ace
engineer for our project. Even better, as a
long-time admirer of our tenor, Seth had himself accumulated
some extraordinary recordings of Björling
performances that he has made available to this project. The results
to date are extraordinary, as you will be
able to see (or hear) for yourself now. In fact you can sample some of
our work, by listening to these sound clips
made available here:
(1). From the Voice of Firestone program of November 19,
1945, listen to the opening announcements and then Jussi singing
"If I Could Tell You",
and the Stephen Foster favorite, “I dream of
Jeanie with the light brown hair.”
(2), (3). Two excerpts from the October 23, 1949 Standard
Hour concert from San Francisco: a very showy “Che gelida manina” and a powerful
“Ah, fuyez, douce image.”
(4). From the September 30, 1951, Standard Hour concert, we
offer what might be Jussi’s best performance of Tosti’s song
“L’alba separa dalla luce
(5). The story of how we were able to obtain and reproduce
the Carnegie Hall concert of April 11, 1949, a beneﬁt for the Swedish Seamen’s Welfare Fund
called “Sweden in Music,” is a ﬁne one. In brief: The major hero here is Swedish collector
Harold Löwing who long was able to obtain the original acetate discs of the WNYC-FM
broadcast and keep them in good condition. Last winter Harald Henrysson explained our
project to Harold and got his permission to carry the entire concert (a heavy set of about
8 discs) to
Charleston, for mailing on to Seth Winner. Then Seth performed prodigies of engineering
technique (with some applied chemistry and physics) to scrub a certain mold from the discs
and then prepare the grooves with a lubricant that would allow optimal playback. Next
Seth digitized the recordings and could begin to use electronic harmonic analysis to bring
out the music in the transformed recording.
Listen here to Jussi’s last encore on that occasion, the lovely Peterson-Berger
song “Jungfrun under
(6). We end with one of Jussi’s standard encores, from the
Bell Telephone Hour broadcast of March 15, 1948: Listen to Orlando Morgan’s
“Clorinda” and, if you like,
imagine that voice being used to much better effect in a song by Schubert, Strauss, or
Rachmaninov! Luckily we have lots of those in our complete edition as described below, and
due off the presses in late summer.
“Jussi Björling Live: American broadcast concerts
[Notation from JBP = JB
Phonography: (XY0A) refers to the A-th recorded performance of year 19XY, thus
(4504) refers to 4th recorded performance of year
Voice of Firestone, 19 Nov. 1945 (4504)
If I could tell you; An Sylvia; Le reve (Manon); Jeanie; Mʼappari (Martha); In my garden.
VofF, 21 Jan. 1946 (4602), with 2nd and 4th selections sung with E. Steber:
If I could tell you; Will you remember (Maytime); For you alone; Miserere (Trovatore).
VofF, 25 March 1946 (4603)
If I could tell you; Jeg elsker dig; Berceuse (Jocelyn); Because; Neapolitan love song; In my
Ford Sunday Evening Hour, 12 May 1946 (4605)
Salut! demeure (Faust); Jungfrun under lind; Land, du välsignade; Mother oʼmine.
SFOpera, 25 Sept. 1949 (4905)
O soave fanciulla (w. Albanese; Kritz).
We, the People, 16 Feb. 1951 [p. 234, (A72) of JB Phonog.]
Interview with Dorothy Caruso; Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci).
Standard Hour, 23 Oct. 1949 (4906), 2nd & 4th selections are
duets w. A-L Björling:
Che gelida; O soave (Bohème); Ah! fuyez (Manon); Chamber scene (Roméo et J.).
Standard Hour, 30 Sept. 1951 (5108), 4th selection a duet w. B.
Cielo e mar!; Lʼalba separa; E lucevan (Tosca); Chamber scene (Roméo et
Sweden in Music, 11 April 1949 (4902), Carnegie Hall.
Five Swedish songs + Lʼalba separa.
==> CD #3
Bell Tel. Hr, March 15, 1948 (4801)
Mattinata; Lilacs; Clorinda; Je suis seul...Ah! fuyez (Manon).
Bel Tel. Hr, April 4, 1949 (4901)
Ständchen (Schubert); Neapolitan love song; Addio alla mamma (Cavalleria rusticana).
Bell Tel. Hr, Nov. 7, 1949 (4907)
Ständchen (Strauss); Jeanie; Che gelida manina.
Bell Tel. Hr, Oct. 23, 1950 (5006)
O paradiso; In silence of night; Zueignung; Come un bel dì (Andrea Chénier).
Bell Tel. Hr, Jan.8, 1951 (5101)
Le reve (Manon); Jungfrun under lind; For you alone; Donna non vidi mai (Manon Lesc.)
Producerʼs Showcase, Jan. 30, 1956 (5601), audio of telecast with R.
O sventata; Che gelida manina; Mi chiamano Mimì; O soave fanciulla (Bohème).
==> CD #4
JB Greets America, Oct. 3, 1937 (3705)
Spoken greeting addressed to Milton Cross about upcoming radio concerts.
GM Concert: Opera night, Dec. 5, 1937 (3708)
Recondita armonia (Tosca); O paradiso (Lʼafricana); Solenne in questʼora (Forza) with D.
Dixon; Quittons ce lieu...Anges purs (Faust) with Dixon, G. Moore.
Bell Tel. Hr, March 12, 1951 (5102)
Vesti la giubba; The rose of Tralee; Celeste Aida (Aida).
JB interview, Aug. 15, 1949 (4903)
Answers to Bill Arthur of Australian Broadcasting Comm. on his best recording, favorite role,
ﬁshing hobby, family.
Studio rec. 1920, alternate take 1 of Sommarglädje, by Björling Juvenile
Studio rec. 1933, alternate take 1 of Kärlekens sång, by “Erik Odde.”
Studio rec. 1949, alternate take 1 of Berceuse (Jocelyn), by
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