Little Bits of History

Jenny Lind

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 29, 2014
Jenny Lind

Jenny Lind

May 29, 1852: Jenny Lind bids a fond farewell to the US. Johanna Maria Lind was born on October 6, 1820 in Stockholm, Sweden. Her mother ran a day school out of their house and when Jenny was nine she was heard singing by Mademoiselle Lundberg’s maid. Lundberg was the principal dancer at the Royal Swedish Opera and the maid knew great singing when she heard it. The next day, the maid returned to the school with Lundberg who then arranged an audition as well as helped Jenny gain admission to the Royal Dramatic Theatre. Lind began singing on stage when she was ten. By the age of twelve, she needed to give her voice a rest for a short time but managed to recover.

Her first big role came when she was eighteen and by age twenty, she was made a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and was a court singer to the King of Sweden and Norway. Her voice was severely damaged by overuse and her untrained singing technique. In 1841 to 1843 she came under the tutelage of Manuel Garcia in Paris. Her voice was so damaged, she was told not to sing at all for three months and then he began to teach her a better technique. Her voice recovered and the beautiful soprano was back in business. In 1843 she met Hans Christian Anderson who fell in love with her, but she did not return his affection and the two managed to become friends with Lind inspiring three of Anderson’s fairy tales.

The Swedish Nightingale swept Europe and eventually came to the notice of the US. In 1850 she was at the height of her popularity and she and PT Barnum to worked together to secure a tour of the US. It began in September 1850 and continued until this day when she left once again for England. Her first concerts in America were so popular and tickets were in such demand that Barnum sold them by auction. The nation was in a frenzy to hear the beautiful voice and “Lind Mania” was perpetuated by the press of the day. Both Lind and Barnum raised large amounts of cash from the tour. Lind was accompanied by Giovanni Belletti, a supporting baritone, and Julius Benedict as pianist, arranger, and conductor. Benedict left in 1851 and was replaced by Otto Goldschmidt whom she married in February 1852. Barnum’s relentless promotional tactics became ever more distasteful and Lind and he parted ways in 1851 under amicable circumstances.

The original contract between Lind and Barnum was altered along the way and eventually, Lind gave 93 concerts in America for Barnum which netted her $350,000 and Barnum received at least $500,000. From the outset, Lind had chosen specific charities to be the recipients of all her profit from the tour. Most of her munificence was sent to free schools in Sweden, but she also gave to local charities in the US. Her final concert before sailing away was held in New York City and was said to have been “attended by the largest and finest audience we ever saw assembled in New York.” She sang a new song at this final stop called “Farewell to America”.

My voice is still the same, and this makes me beside myself with Joy! Oh, mon Dieu, when I think what I might be able to do with it! – Jenny Lind

I have brightness in my soul, which strains toward Heaven. I am like a bird! – Jenny Lind

The extreme burst of her voice in the upper portion of its register is far beyond the ordinary range of sopranos, and she has acquired the power of moulding the higher notes entirely at her will. By this she is enabled to produce some of the most astonishing effects upon the listener. – from a critic writing at Nashville, Tennessee

How we all loved Jennie Lind, but not accustomed oft to her manner of singing didn’t fancy that so well as we did her. – Emily Dickinson

Also on this day: The Top of the World – In 1953 Mount Everest in conquered.
Running the World – In 1954, the Bilderberg Group held their first conference.
Empress of Ireland – In 1914, nearly a thousand people died when the ship sank.
I’m Dreaming – In 1942, Bing Crosby recorded a song.

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