Jussi Björling Society - USA

 

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The Singer and the Actor

Edvin Adolphson

It would not be overstating the case to say that Jussi Björling was extremely popular with artists of the spoken theatre too. He was always very eager to learn all about the problems of the theatre and of the actor’s art, and when he met actors he never failed to ask us about our experiences in the theatre. He wanted to know as much as possible about the stage and its techniques. When his busy schedule allowed, he willingly gave his services for the benefit of actors, including a number of recitals at The Djurgården Festival. The Swedish Theatre Union awarded him its Gold Medal as a small token of appreciation. As a person he was what I would call ‘a nice friend’. He was affable, with an unaffected disposition and was popular wherever he went. The radio and the gramophone had made him known in virtually every Swedish household, even to those who could not travel to Stockholm to hear him at the Royal Opera. I seem to recall that one year he easily won a radio poll to determine the country’s most popular voice. He hated large social gatherings, especially those where he was required to be the focus of attention. He never sought out people of birth, position or wealth; instead, it was they who sought out him. What one admired him for, above all, apart from the rare beauty and warmth of his voice, was his unfailing musicality and memory, even during his difficult times when such a way of life would normally have affected the voice and stage performance. On the stage and concert platform he never lost his self-control but always knew precisely how to behave and perform. Jussi Björling was in many ways a remarkable person. In essence there was no difference between the teenage tenor, the great talent of the 1930s and the mature international star. Success never went to his head—he was always the same dalmås with both feet planted firmly on the ground. His passing is an irreplaceable loss for Sweden. It is no exaggeration to say, as one newspaper expressed it after his death, that the whole of Sweden was in mourning.

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