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Anderson, Marian 1902–

Marian Anderson 1902

Classical, opera, and spiritual singer

At a Glance

Early Life and Training

Triumph in Europe

Return to the United States

Victory Over Racial Discrimination

Her Operatic Debut

Her Farewell Concert

Selected writings

Selected discography

Sources

Marian Anderson is remembered as one of the best American contraltos of all time. Acclaimed as much for her gentle demeanor as for her rich voice, she effectively bridged all racial gaps with her powerful renditions of classical, operatic, and spiritual songs. At age 89, Andersons characteristic grace, nobility, and modesty were once again in evidence. Honored as the subject of a 60-minute documentary broadcast over public television in 1991, she was described as a queen, a national treasure, an inspiration, a great lady and an icon, according to the New York Times. Yet she described herself in typically humble fashion by saying, I hadnt set out to change the world in any way. Whatever I am, it is a culmination of the goodwill of people who, regardless of anything else, saw me as I am, and not as somebody else.

Andersons nearly four-decade-long career as a classical singer was in fact marked by the adverse effects of racial prejudice and discrimination. Although she won an important singing contest in 1925, she was for years unable to advance her career in America. It was on the less prejudiced continent of Europe that Anderson first became a star. She captured the attention of millions of Americans in 1939, however, when she was refused the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Her operatic debut was delayed until 1955, when she became the first African-American to sing with the New York Metropolitan Opera company.

With grace and distinction, Anderson overcame the indignities she suffered as a result of racial prejudice. Steadfastly refusing to become a political pawn, she simply became the best she could be at her craft and, in the process, helped break down existing barriers for African-Americans. When touring the deep South, for example, her theater contract specified equal, though separate, orchestra seating for blacks.

Anderson is recognized as a key figure in the struggle for black equalityespecially in the arts. She suffered the indignities imposed on her people without protest, and easily rose above them, summarized a New York Times reporter in 1991. Ms. Andersons odyssey affected as well as reflected a transformation of attitudes about race in America. A 1945 New York Times Magazine profile noted, The handicaps which she had to overcome in order to attain her present position in the world of music

At a Glance

Born February 17, 1902, in Philadelphia, PA; married Orpheus Fisher (an architectural engineer), July 24, 1943. Education: Studied with vocal teachers Giuseppe Boghetti, Frank LaForge, and Michael Raucheisen.

Professional classical, operatic, and spiritual singer. Began singing in the junior choir at Philadelphias Union Baptist Church when she was six years old; performed throughout the United States and Europe; farewell concert performance at Carnegie Hall, 1965.

Selected awards: Prix de Chant, Paris, 1935; Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1939; Philadelphias Bok Award, 1941; Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1963; Presidential Medal of Arts, 1988.

have left no apparent hard feeling. Past slurs and indignities have been forgotten, and she rises above all prejudices, regarding them as the result of ignorance rather than of hatred.

At the peak of her career, Andersons repertoire included over two hundred songs in nine languages. Her concerts typically included classical songs, or lieder, by Georg Frideric Handel, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Jean Sibelius, and other composers, and a selection of traditional spirituals. She first sang her favorite song, Schuberts Ave Maria, when she was studying in Philadelphia. She did not come to understand the meaning of the words, though, until she learned German while living in Berlin. Anderson initially included the Ave Maria in a program for public performance in Finland, and she reportedly saved it as an encore in subsequent concerts.

But Andersons taste in music went beyond the classics. Her appreciation of the honesty and simplicity of black spirituals led her to include them in each of her performances. As she told an interviewer in the New York Times Magazine, I do not have to tell you that I dearly love the Negro spirituals. They are the unburdenings of the sorrows of an entire race, which, finding scant happiness on earth, turns to the future for its joys.

Early Life and Training

Anderson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 17, 1902. Her father sold coal and ice, and her mother, who had been a schoolteacher before marrying, took in laundry and did housework to make ends meet. Andersons father died when she was 12, and five years later, her mother contracted a serious case of the flu, leaving young Marian to take over support of the family.

Andersons earliest vocal training came at Philadelphias Union Baptist Church, where she began singing spirituals and hymns in the junior choir at age six. Her early experience there helped develop her astonishing range, which embraced three octaves at its peak. Singing The Lord Is My Shepherd, Anderson made her debut performance at the age of eight and received 50 cents for her recital. Longing for a real instrument for accompaniment, she saved the money she earned from doing chores and, with the help of her father, bought a violin from a pawn shop.

Anderson studied with local voice teachers in Philadelphia, but by the time she was 18 she had outgrown them. With her mother ill and her father dead, she was doing all she could to support her family and couldnt afford a more expensive vocal teacher. Knowing this, the parishioners of Union Baptist Church collected a Marian Anderson Fund to pay for instruction from Giuseppe Boghetti, a famous voice teacher who worked in Philadelphia and New York. She soon gave a concert at Philadelphias Witherspoon Hall.

In 1925, following a recital at New Yorks Town Hall, Boghetti was encouraged enough to enter her into a contest. Competing against three hundred other singers, Anderson took first prize in the contest and won the opportunity to sing at Lewisohn Stadium with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a victory she long considered a keystone of her career. Singing O Mio Fernando from Donizettis opera La Favorite, she gave a well-received performance.

In spite of her triumph, though, Andersons career did not advance as expected. She was under contract and studied with Frank LaForge. Her concerts were mostly given under the auspices of black organizations for black audiences. Encountering racial prejudice, she refused to abandon the high musical road upon which she had set out. In the summer of 1929 she sailed to England and studied there with various teachers. She returned to the United States the next year, the trip to Europe having had little impact on her career.

Triumph in Europe

After a 1931 concert in Chicago, Anderson was approached by a representative from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a foundation set up to advance higher education for blacks. At that time, she desperately wanted to study in Germany. With the aid of a Rosenwald scholarship, she went to Europe again in 1931 and stayed with a German-speaking family in Berlin. She studied with Michael Raucheisen, a German vocal coach, to learn the language and lieder.

Success came more quickly to Anderson in Europe than in America. She gave concerts in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, then returned briefly to America. In 1933 she went back to Europe for a 20-concert Scandinavian tour, which was financed by the Rosenwald Fund. Anderson sang before King Gustav in Stockholm, Sweden, where he decorated her. She sang before King Christian in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Finland, she received a rare invitation from Sibelius, who later dedicated his song Solitude to her. In twelve months, she gave 108 concerts.

Following her Scandinavian tour, Anderson gave concerts in Paris and London and toured Italy, Austria, Spain, Poland, Latvia, and Russia. She was received enthusiastically in Russia, where the famous theater director Constantin Stanislavsky wanted her to study Carmen under his direction. In Salzburg, Austria, she gave a sensational performance at the Mozarteum with famous conductor Arturo Toscanini in the audience. Upon hearing her sing, Toscanini reportedly told her she had a voice heard but once in a century.

At the end of her European tour, Anderson was an acclaimed sensation in the capitals of Europe. In Paris, American impresario Sol Hurok had signed her to do 15 concerts in the United States. She was awarded the Prix de Chant in Paris and was known as The Black Venus on the concert stage there. Hurok managed Andersons career from 1935 onwards, once telling a reporter that she was the only artist hed handled who never became temperamental with him.

Return to the United States

Andersons first recital upon returning to the United States was given at New Yorks Town Hall on December 30, 1935. She had fractured a bone in her left foot on the ocean liner before she landed. At the concert, the cast on her foot was hidden by her gown. Nevertheless, the performance was a smash, featuring a program including songs by Handel, Schubert, Giuseppe Verdi, and Sibelius, as well as a group of spirituals. After the recital, critics welcomed her as a new high priestess of song. In the words of a New York Times contributor, the concert established her as one of the great singers of our time.

Over the next several years, she sang for U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House, where she had her only attack of stage fright. She was invited back and appeared on a musical program for King George and Queen Elizabeth of England at the White House during their visit. She made several cross-country tours and was soon booking engagements two years in advance. Every appearance was an automatic sellout, and one year she covered 26,000 miles in the longest tour in concert history, giving 70 concerts in five months.

Victory Over Racial Discrimination

In 1939, an incident involving the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) brought Andersons name to the attention of millions of Americans. The DAR denied her use of their Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., for an April 9 concert. A huge outcry ensued, and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt subsequently resigned from the organization. With permission from the federal government, Anderson instead gave a free Easter Sunday outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial. A live crowd of 75,000 and a radio audience numbering into the millions heard the performance, which began with the patriotic song My Country Tis of Thee.

Later that year, Mrs. Roosevelt presented Anderson with the Spingarn Medal. The prestigious award was given annually by Joel E. Spingarn, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to the black American who made the highest achievement during the preceding year or years in any honorable field of human endeavor, according to the New York Times. In 1941 Anderson received the Bok Award from her hometown of Philadelphia. She used the $10,000 award that came with the medal to set up the Marian Anderson awardscash scholarships given each year to ten aspiring young singers regardless of race or creed.

In 1942 the DAR again refused to let her use Constitution Hall, this time ignoring her demands that the audience for her war benefit concert not be segregated on the basis of color. In 1943 the issue was resolved when she sang at Constitution Hall for a China Relief Fund benefit. The following year, Anderson gave a performance at Carnegie Hall that included lieder by Schubert, arias, and a closing group of spirituals, including My Lord, What a Morning, which she would later adopt as the title of her autobiography. An enthusiastic New York Times reviewer proclaimed: It became apparent that something very unusual was taking place, one of the rarest of thingsa really great song recital. Of the spirituals, the critic said they displayed a pathos and a profundity of feeling that made them possibly the most moving music of the evening.

In 1948 Anderson underwent a dangerous operation for the removal from her esophagus of a cyst that threatened to damage her voice. For two months she was not permitted to use her voice and was unsure if she would ever be able to sing again. When she was finally allowed to rehearse, her voice returned free of impairment. Following her recovery, Anderson made her first post-World War II tour of Europe, including stops in Scandinavia, Paris, London, Antwerp, Zurich, and Geneva.

Her Operatic Debut

Although Anderson had once expressed a desire to sing in an opera, she later revealed in a press release, When some of the things I did in concert gratified me, it did not become a necessity. It was not until January 7, 1955, at the age of 52, that Anderson made her operatic debut in the role of Ulrica in Verdis opera, Un ballo in maschera (The Masquerade Ball). It was the first time a black person had sung with the company of New Yorks Metropolitan Opera since it began in 1883. She was signed to the role by Rudolf Bing, manager of the Met, and her presence in the company opened the doors for many black opera singers.

When Bing first offered Anderson the chance to sing Verdis opera at the Met, she made a point of examining the score with conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos to see if it was within her vocal range. It was. Commenting in the New York Times on her reaction to winning her first opera role, Anderson exclaimed, Ever since [I] was in high school in Philadelphia, [I] wanted to sing opera at the Metropolitan, if that could be. Now [I am] speechless.

Over the years, she continued to add to her accomplishments. She sang at presidential inaugurations for Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, she served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations, and she toured the Far East in a 40,000-mile trek that was filmed by CBS-TV and sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Her Farewell Concert

On Easter Sunday of 1965, Anderson gave her farewell concert at Carnegie Hall. The audience of 2,900 included actor Montgomery Clift, who said of her singing in the New York Times, This marvelous thing comes across and its so rare, so beautiful. The program was typical for Marian Anderson, consisting of songs by Handel, Haydn, Schubert, Samuel Barber, and a selection of spirituals. She gave four encores, including Ave Maria and Let My People Go.

On the occasion of her farewell concert, New York Times music critic Harold C. Schoenberg wrote: It was Miss Anderson who stood as a symbol for the emergence of the Negro; and while she herself never militantly participated in the civil-rights movement, she was revered as one who, by the force of her personality, talent and probity, was able to become a world figure despite her humble birth and minority status. In a way, she was part of the American dream. And her success story was an inspiration to younger Negro musicians. Describing the range and quality of her voice, he wrote: Those who remember her at her height can never forget that big, resonant voice, with those low notes almost visceral in nature, and with that easy, unforced ascent to the top register. A natural voice, a hauntingly colorful one, it was one of the vocal phenomena of its time.

Selected writings

My Lord, What a Morning (autobiography), Viking, 1956.

Selected discography

Kinder-Tontenlieder (title means Songs on the Death of Infants), by Gustav Mahler, Victor, 1951.

Marian Anderson Sings Beloved Songs of Schubert, Victor, 1951.

Un ballo in maschera (title means The Masquerade Ball), by Giuseppe Verdi, Victor, 1955.

Marian Anderson (songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Straus, and Haydn), Victor, 1964.

Jus Keep on Singin (spirituals), Victor, 1965.

Spirituals, Victor, 1976.

Marian Anderson: Bach, Brahms, Schubert (recorded 1924-55), Victor, 1989.

Marian Anderson, Pearl, 1990.

Sources

Books

Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Macmillan, 1986.

Sims, Janet L., Marian Anderson: An Annotated Bibliography and Discography, Greenwood, 1981.

Tedards, Anne, Marian Anderson, Chelsea House, 1988.

Vehanen, Kosti, Marian Anderson: A Portrait, McGraw-Hill, 1941.

Periodicals

Christian Century, February 21, 1940.

Detroit Free Press, May 8, 1991.

National Review, September 29, 1989.

New York Times, July 3, 1939; March 18, 1941; November 13, 1944; October 8, 1954; April 19, 1965; May 8, 1991.

New York Times Magazine, December 30, 1945.

Stage, December 1938.

Time, December 30, 1946.

Additional information taken from a press release housed in the E. Azalia Hackley Collection, Detroit Public Library, dated c. 1949.

David Bianco

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Bianco, David. "Anderson, Marian 1902–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1992. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Anderson, Marian

Marian Anderson

Classical, spiritual, and opera singer

Supported Family

Studied in Europe

A Voice Heard but Once in a Century

At Last, Triumph at Home

Snubbed by D.A.R.

Long Delayed Operatic Debut

Selected discography

Sources

Acclaimed as much for her gentle demeanor as for her rich voice, Marian Anderson effectively bridged entrenched racial gaps with her powerful renditions of classical, spiritual, and operatic songs. At age 89, as always, Andersons characteristic grace, nobility, and modesty were evident; honored as the subject of a 60-minute 1991 PBS documentary, she was described as a queen, a national treasure, an inspiration, a great lady and an icon, according to the New York Times. Yet the singer portrayed herself in typically humble fashion, saying, I hadnt set out to change the world in any way. Whatever I am, it is a culmination of the goodwill of people who, regardless of anything else, saw me as I am, and not as somebody else.

Andersons nearly 40-year career as a classical singer was, in fact, marked by racial prejudice and discrimination. Although she won an important singing contest in 1925, she was for years unable to advance her career in America; it was in Europe that Anderson first became a star. She captured the attention of millions of Americans, however, when in 1939 she was refused the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.). Her operatic debut was delayed until 1955, when she became the first African-American to sing with New York Citys Metropolitan Opera.

Supported Family

Anderson was born in Philadelphia on February 17, 1902. Her father sold coal and ice, and her mother, who had been a schoolteacher before marrying, took in laundry and did housework to make ends meet. Andersons father died when she was 12; five years later, her mother contracted a serious case of influenza, leaving young Marian to take over support of the family.

Andersons earliest vocal training came at Philadelphias Union Baptist Church, where she began singing spirituals and hymns in the junior choir at age six. Her early experience there helped develop her astonishing range, which embraced three octaves at its peak. Singing The Lord Is My Shepherd, Anderson made her debut performance at the age of eight and received 50 cents for her recital. She studied with local voice teachers in Philadelphia, but by the time she was 18 she had outgrown them. Almost single-handedly supporting her family, she could not afford expensive vocal coaches. Knowing this, the parishioners of Union Baptist Church collected a Marian Anderson Fund to pay for instruction by Giuseppe Boghetti, a famous voice teacher who worked in Philadelphia and New York City. In 1925, following a recital at New Yorks Town Hall, Boghetti was sufficiently encouraged by his pupils performance to enter her in a vocal contest. Competing

For the Record

Born February 17, 1902, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of a coal and ice vendor and a former schoolteacher; married Orpheus Fisher (an architectural engineer), July 24, 1943. Education: Studied with vocal teachers Giuseppe Boghetti, Frank LaForge, and Michael Raucheisen.

Classical, spiritual, and opera singer. Debuted professionally, with Union Baptist Church junior choir, Philadelphia, 1910; won vocal contest and performed with the New York Philharmonic, c. 1925; studied in Europe, 1929-30, 1931; performed throughout Europe; signed contract for U.S. performances, 1935; performed at the White House and at presidential inaugurations; performed at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., 1939; established Marian Anderson scholarship awards; made operatic debut at Metropolitan Opera, New York City, 1955; served as U.S. delegate to the United Nations; gave farewell concert performance at Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1965. Author of My Lord, What a Morning (autobiography), Viking, 1956.

Selected awards: Rosenwald scholarship, 1931; decorated by King Gustaf of Sweden, c. 1933; Prix de Chant, Paris, 1935; Spingarn Medal, NAACP, 1939; Bok Award (Philadelphia), 1941; Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1963; Presidential Medal of Arts, 1988.

Addresses: Home Portland, OR. Management ICM Artists, Ltd., 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

against three hundred singers, Anderson took first prize in the contest and won the opportunity to sing at Lewisohn Stadium with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a victory she long considered a keystone of her career. Singing O Mio Fernando from Donizettis opera La Favorite, she gave a smashing performance that was widely acclaimed.

Studied in Europe

In spite of her triumph, though, Andersons career did not advance as expected. Studying and under contract with Frank LaForge, her concerts were given primarily under the auspices of black organizations for black audiences. Despite the racial prejudice she encountered daily, she refused to abandon the high musical road upon which she had set out. In the summer of 1929 she sailed to England and studied there with various teachers. But she returned to the United States the next year, the trip to Europe having had little impact on her career.

Then, after a 1931 concert in Chicago, Anderson was approached by a representative from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a foundation set up to advance higher education for blacks. At the time, Anderson desperately wanted to study in Germany. With the aid of a Rosenwald scholarship, she returned to Europe that year and stayed with a German family in Berlin. She studied with Michael Raucheisen, a German vocal coach, to learn the language and lieder.

Success came more quickly to Anderson in Europe than in America. She gave concerts in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, then returned briefly to America. In 1933 she went back to Europe for a 20-concert Scandinavian tour financed by the Rosenwald Fund. Anderson sang before King Gustav in Stockholm, Sweden, where she was decorated by him. She also sang before King Christian in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Finland she received a rare invitation from the great composer Jean Sibelius, who later dedicated his song Solitude to her. In 12 months, she gave 108 concerts.

A Voice Heard but Once in a Century

Following her Scandinavian tour, Anderson gave concerts in Paris and London and toured Italy, Austria, Spain, Poland, Latvia, and Russia. She was particularly well received in Russia, where the famous theater director Constantin Stanislavsky requested that she study Bizets opera Carmen under his direction. In Salzburg, Austria, she gave a spectacular performance at the Mozarteum with revered conductor Arturo Toscanini in attendance. On hearing her sing, Toscanini reportedly told Anderson that she had a voice heard but once in a century.

By the end of her tour on the Continent, Anderson was a widely heralded sensation throughout the capitals of Europe. In Paris, American impresario Sol Hurok signed her to 15 concerts in the United States. She was also awarded the Prix de Chant in Paris, where she was known as The Black Venus. Hurok managed Andersons career from 1935 on, once telling a reporter that she was the only artist hed ever handled who never became temperamental with him.

At Last, Triumph at Home

Andersons first recital on returning to the United States was given at New Yorks Town Hall on December 30, 1935. She had fractured a bone in her left foot on the ocean liner before she landed; at the concert, the cast on her foot was hidden by her gown. Despite this encumbrance, the performance, which included songs by Handel, Schubert, Verdi, and Sibelius, as well as a group of spirituals, was glorious. After the recital, critics welcomed her as a new high priestess of song. The New York Times called Anderson one of the great singers of our time.

Within the next few years Anderson became so popular that she was invited to sing at the White House for U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, where she had her only attack of stage fright. She was invited back to perform for King George and Queen Elizabeth of England during their state visit. She embarked on several cross-country tours and was soon being requested for engagements two years in advance. Every appearance was an automatic sellout, and one year Anderson covered 26,000 miles in the longest tour in concert history, giving 70 concerts in five months. When touring the deep South, her theater contract specified equal, though separate, orchestra seating for blacks.

Snubbed by D.A.R.

In 1939, an incident involving the Daughters of the American Revolution, members of which are directly descended from soldiers or patriots of the Revolutionary period, brought Andersons name to the attention of millions of Americans, many of whom would never have been acquainted with her otherwise. The D.A.R. denied her use of their Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., for an April 9 concert. A huge outcry ensued, and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt subsequently resigned from the organization. With permission from the federal government, Anderson instead gave a free Easter Sunday outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial. A live crowd of 75,000 and a radio audience numbering into the millions heard the performance, which began with the patriotic song My Country 'Tis of Thee.

Later that year, Mrs. Roosevelt presented Anderson with the Spingarn Medal. The prestigious award, named for NAACP president Joel E. Spingarn, is awarded by the NAACP to the black American who made the highest achievement during the preceding year or years in any honorable field of human endeavor, as defined in the New York Times; she used the $10,000 award accompanying the medal to set up the Marian Anderson awardscash scholarships given each year to ten aspiring young singers regardless of race or creed.

In 1942 the D.A.R. again refused to let Anderson use Constitution Hall, this time reportedly over her demands that the audience for her war benefit concert not be segregated on the basis of color. The issue was finally resolved in 1943, when Anderson sang at Constitution Hall for a China Relief Fund benefit. The following year, the singer gave a performance at Carnegie Hall that included the spiritual My Lord, What a Morning, which Anderson would later adopt as the title of her autobiography. An enthusiastic New York Times reviewer proclaimed of the appearance: It became apparent that something very unusual was taking place, one of the rarest of thingsa really great song recital. Of the spirituals, the reviewer observed, [They] displayed a pathos and a profundity of feeling that made them possibly the most moving music of the evening.

In 1948 Anderson underwent a dangerous operation for the removal from her esophagus of a cyst that threatened to damage her voice. For two months she was not permitted to use her voice and was unsure if she would ever be able to sing again. When she was finally allowed to rehearse, her voice returned free of impairment. Following her recovery, Anderson made her first post-World War II tour of Europe, including stops in Scandinavia, Paris, London, Antwerp, Zurich, and Geneva.

Long Delayed Operatic Debut

Although Anderson had once expressed a desire to sing opera, she later revealed in a press release, When some of the things I did in concert gratified me, it did not become a necessity. And so, it was not until January 7, 1955, at the age of 52, that Anderson made her operatic debut in the role of Ulrica in Verdis opera Un ballo in maschera (The Masquerade Ball). It was the first time an African-American had sung with the company of New Yorks Metropolitan Opera (Met) since it opened in 1883; her presence in the company opened the doors for many black opera singers. When Anderson was offered the chance to sing Verdis opera at the Met, she made a point of carefully examining the score with conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos to determine whether it was within her vocal range. Commenting in the New York Times on winning her first opera role, Anderson exclaimed, Ever since [I] was in high school in Philadelphia, [I] wanted to sing operaat the Metropolitan, if that could be. Now [I am] speechless.

Over the years, Anderson continued to add to her accomplishments. She sang at the presidential inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations, and toured the Far East in a 40,000-mile trek sponsored by the U.S. State Department and filmed by CBS-TV. On Easter Sunday of 1965, Anderson gave a farewell concert at Carnegie Hall. The audience of 2,900 included actor Montgomery Clift, who remarked in the New York Times of Andersons gift, This marvelous thing comes across and its so rare, so beautiful. The program was typical for Anderson, consisting of songs by Handel, Haydn, Schubert, Samuel Barber, and a selection of spirituals. She gave four encores, including Ave Maria and Let My People Go.

On the occasion of her farewell concert, New York Times music critic Harold C. Schoenberg wrote: It was Miss Anderson who stood as a symbol for the emergence of the Negro; and while she herself never militantly participated in the civil-rights movement, she was revered as one who, by the force of her personality, talent and probity, was able to become a world figure despite her humble birth and minority status. In a way, she was part of the American dream. And her success story was an inspiration to younger Negro musicians. Describing the range and quality of her voice, Schoenberg noted, Those who remember her at her height can never forget that big, resonant voice, with those low notes almost visceral in nature, and with that easy, unforced ascent to the top register. A natural voice, a hauntingly colorful one, it was one of the vocal phenomena of its time.

Selected discography

(Gustav Mahler) Kinder-Tontenlieder (title means Songs on the Death of Infants), Victor, 1951.

Marian Anderson Sings Beloved Songs of Schubert, Victor, 1951.

(Giuseppe Verdi) Un ballo in maschera (title means The Masquerade Ball), Victor, 1955.

Marian Anderson (songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Straus, and Haydn), Victor, 1964.

Jus Keep on Singin (spirituals), Victor, 1965.

Spirituals, Victor, 1976.

Marian Anderson: Bach, Brahms, Schubert (recorded 1924-55), Victor, 1989.

Marian Anderson, Pearl, 1990.

Sources

Books

Anderson, Marian, My Lord, What a Morning (autobiography), Viking, 1956.

Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Macmillan, 1986.

Sims, Janet L, Marian Anderson: An Annotated Bibliography and Discography, Greenwood, 1981.

Tedards, Anne, Marian Anderson, Chelsea House, 1988.

Vehanen, Kosti, Marian Anderson: A Portrait, McGraw-Hill, 1941.

Periodicals

Christian Century February 21, 1940.

Detroit Free Press, May 8, 1991.

National Review, September 29, 1989.

New York Times, July 3, 1939; March 18, 1941; November 13, 1944; October 8, 1954; April 19, 1965; May 8, 1991.

New York Times Magazine, December 30, 1945.

Stage, December 1938.

Time, December 30, 1946.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from a press release, c. 1949, housed in the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of the Detroit Public Library.

David Bianco

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

Bianco, David. "Anderson, Marian." Contemporary Musicians. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Bianco, David. "Anderson, Marian." Contemporary Musicians. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3492600010.html

Bianco, David. "Anderson, Marian." Contemporary Musicians. 1993. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3492600010.html

Anderson, Marian 1897–1993

Marian Anderson 18971993

Singer

Grew Up Poor, But Not Lacking

A Reluctant Return to the States

Became First Black Met Singer

A Rich Life, Rewarded

Sources

Concert singer Marian Andersons rich contralto voice, wrote one critic in People, was as perfect as a human instrument can be. The first major black female concert singer of the 20th century, Anderson was lauded by audiences and critics and honored by presidents and kings all over the world both for her phenomenal voice and for her contribution to the struggle for racial equality. As the first permanent African-American member of the Metropolitan Opera Company, Anderson was known for her unfettered deliveryAnderson conveyed the music of Bach, Handel, Tchaikovsky, and many others without any distracting mannerisms. Shunned by racially prejudiced American audiences, Anderson left for Europe, where she was met with overwhelming success. In a field dominated by whites, she was known for maintaining her dignity in the face of the bigotry she was subjected to throughout her career.

While others were marching and making impassioned speeches during the Civil Rights movement, Anderson did not speak out publicly, but was still known as the voice of the Civil Rights struggle. Because she was forced to pursue her art tenaciously in order to succeed, she challenged the racial barrier in her own courageous and heroic way. It is my honest belief, Anderson was quoted as saying in Opera News, that to contribute to the betterment of something, one can do it best in the medium through which one expresses ones self most easily. In a PBS documentary of her life, Anderson said, I did not start out to change the world in any way, because I knew that I couldnt. And whatever I am is the culmination of the goodwill, the help and understanding of the many people that I have met around the world who have, regardless of anything else, seen me as I am, not trying to be somebody else.

Grew Up Poor, But Not Lacking

Marian Anderson was born February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, the oldest of three daughters of Annie and John Anderson, a coal and ice salesman. Annie Anderson began taking in laundry to support her children after their father died when Marian was still young. The family lived with Andersons grandmother in South Philadelphia and she grew up poor, though never lacking in love and support. My mother always encouraged me to do anything I wanted, she was quoted as saying in Billboard. She began singing as a

At a Glance

Born February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, PA; died April 8, 1996, Portland, OR; daughter of Annie (a laundress) and John Anderson (a coal and ice salesman); married Orpheus H. King Fisher (an architect) (d. 1985), 1943. Education: Studied with Mary S. Patterson, Agnes Reifsnyder, and Giuseppe Boghetti.

Career: Performed for modest fees as a teen; won first prize New York Philharmonic voice competition and debuted with the Philharmonic at Lewisohn Stadium, 1925; performed at New Yorks Town Hall; left for Europe on a Rosenwald Fellowship, 1930; debuted in London, 1930; toured Europe, 1930-35; returned to the United States, 1935; took Sol Hurok as her manager; performed at Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939; debuted as the first permanent African-American member of the Metropolitan Opera Company, 1955; left the Met and published her autobiography, My Lord What a Morning, 1956; retired from singing, 1965; lecturer.

Awards; Rosenwald Fellowship, 1930; Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1963; Kennedy Center Honors, 1978; Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award of the City of New York, 1984; National Arts Medal, 1986; lifetime achievement Grammy award, 1991; among many others.

toddler and joined the Union Baptist Church junior choir at age six. Though first turned away by a Philadelphia music school because of her color, she studied formally at age 15 with Mary S. Patterson, lessons she scrubbed floors to pay for. Many in her community acknowledged Andersons exceptional talent, and contributed to her educationthe Union Baptist choir raised money to further her training and, later, the black ensemble, the Philadelphia Choral Society, gave benefit performances to raise the funds that allowed her to study with voice coaches Agnes Reifsnyder and Giuseppe Boghetti. She then performed for modest fees, helping to support her mother and sisters. It is a little known fact that Anderson applied to Yale and was accepted, but was unable to raise enough money to cover tuition.

Boghetti entered Anderson into a New York Philharmonic voice competition when she was 28. She won first prize out of 300 competitors, debuted with the Philharmonic at Lewisohn Stadium that same year, and signed a management contract. A significant concert at New Yorks Town Hall followed, but Anderson was unable to break any ground in a country as bound by racism as the United States was at the time. Anderson left for Europe on a Rosenwald Fellowship in 1930, in hopes of developing her craft and confidence, perfecting her foreign-language skills, and finding a more accepting audience.

After her 1930 London debut, the singer took Europe by storm. She toured from Italy and Austria to Germany and Scandinavia, where she met composer Jean Sibelius, who was so taken by her warm, burnished tone and interpretive sensitivity that he dedicated his song Solitude to her, according to Billboard critic Susan Elliot. It was on this tour that famed conductor Arturo Toscanini first heard Anderson sing and said, A voice like yours is heard only once in 100 years, according to Billboard.

A Reluctant Return to the States

Anderson returned to the United States in 1935, though very reluctantly, based on her chilly reception there the first time around. After impresario Sol Hurokwho became her managerheard Anderson sing in Paris, he advised her to return to the States for another appearance at Town Hall. Hurok was rightthe concert was to be the turning point in her U.S. career. This time, with the swell of her European success behind her, American audiences and critics paid attention. New York Times critic Howard Taubman wrote, Let it be said from the outset, Marian Anderson has returned to her native land one of the great singers of our time. In 1936 Anderson became the first black to perform in the White House when the Roosevelts invited her, and returned later to sing for the Eisenhowers and the Kennedys.

Andersons successful return to the States was met with racial prejudice in 1939. Hurok was denied when he attempted to schedule a recital for Anderson at Constitution Hall, which was owned by the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR). Hurok went public with the incident. The incident became a national affairweeks of debate ensued and many high-profile members, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, immediately resigned from the DAR. Anderson, whose only political statement was her talent, was terribly upset. Music to me means so much, such beautiful things, she was quoted as saying in Billboard, and it seemed impossible that you could find people who would curb you, stop you, from doing a thing which is beautiful. I wasnt trying to sway anybody into any movements or anything of that sort, you know. I just wanted to sing and share.

The singer became a household name when, after the U.S. government offered her the use of the Lincoln Memorial for her Easter Sunday recital, 75,000 citizens and political dignitaries descended upon the Washington D.C. site to hear her, and millions more tuned in to the performance on the radio. Her program included America, Schuberts Ave Maria and the spirituals Gospel Train, Trampin, and My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord. Anderson was bolstered by the nationwide show of support. According to Jet, she told the racially mixed audience, I am so overwhelmed, I just cant talk. The event was the largest public tribute since the one that welcomed Charles Lindbergh back from France ten years earlier. Whether she liked it or not, Anderson had become a symbol in the struggle for Civil Rights. The performance also secured her place among Americas outstanding musical talents.

Anderson was best known for her recital repertoire, which ranged from Bach and Handel oratorio arias to the songs of Schubert, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky to spirituals. In all, Andersons repertoire consisted of more than 200 songs in nine languages and, though labeled a contralto, her voice was effective over three octaves. Spirituals were among the most personal to Anderson. They are my own music, she was quoted as saying in Billboard. But it is not for that reason that I love to sing them. I love them because they are truly spiritual in quality; they give forth the aura of faith, simplicity, humility, and hope.

Became First Black Met Singer

At the invitation of General Manager Rudolph Bing, Anderson made her debut as the first permanent African-American member of the Metropolitan Opera Company on January 7, 1955, singing Ulrica in Verdis Un Ballo In Maschera. At the age of 57, Andersons velvety trademark tone was no longer at its peak, and a slight tremelo was audible, but [h]er style and consistently majestic presence were still very much intact, wrote Billboard critic Elliot. A fellow singer remembered the night as an electric one where Anderson was met with a ten-minute standing ovation as soon as the curtain rose. After the concert, the contralto revealed she became nervous when the entire house erupted in applause. The audience repeated the ovations after each aria she sung. Anderson left the Met and published her autobiography, My Lord What a Morning, in 1956.

Throughout her transition from second-class citizen to opera royalty in the United States, Anderson kept her regal and elegant disposition. She was discriminated against repeatedly in her travels by hotels, restaurants, concert venues, many of which were blatantly closed to blacks until the late 1930s. She rarely spoke publicly about racism, but opened up in an interview in 1960. Sometimes its like a hair across your cheek, she said, according to Jet. You cant see it. You cant find it with your fingers but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating. Anderson was also known to treat anyone who came in contact with her, from the lowest-ranking mailroom worker on up, with the same respect. Though she was presented with the key to Atlantic City, there was not a hotel in the city that would give her a room. Anderson always maintained her dignity, despite the injustices. You lose a lot of time hating people, she told People.

A Rich Life, Rewarded

After she broke operas color barrier, Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award of the City of New York in 1984, and the National Arts Medal in 1986. The Marian Anderson Awards, founded in 1943 and resurrected in 1990, have been awarded to such artists as soprano Sylvia McNair and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. In 1991 she received a lifetime achievement Grammy award and was the subject of a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television documentary titled Marian Anderson. PBSs American Playhouse also developed a drama depicting Andersons life, the first time an African-American singers life had been dramatized for television. Anderson did so much for blacks in her field, screen-writer Martin Tahse told American Visions, but did so without making a fuss. She simply said, I am black, and I am an artist. I want to sing. Many black singers, from Leontyne Price to Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle, hold Anderson as a role model. As soprano Martina Arroyo, who debuted at the Met in 1961, attested in American Visions, She has been a legend all my life. When I didnt know what opera singing was, I knew her name, adding that it was crucial that Andersons legacy be kept alive.

Anderson retired in racially turbulent 1965 but continued to give lectures on her life and travels. Quoted in American Visions, Vincent Sheean, a correspondent in Europe who covered Andersons triumphant early years, wrote of the artist at her retirement: Rain or shine, war or peace, she has been before us now for 30 years as a living part of the national consciousness, the voice of the American soul. She came at a moment when a great Negro personality, which the whole nation could admire, esteem and love, had become very early an historical imperative, and in that mysterious way which destiny takes for its working, when she was needed, there she was.

After her retirement, Anderson lived on her farm, called Marianna Farms, in Danbury, Connecticut, to work with her hands and heart and soul, she was quoted as saying in American Visions. A Steinway grand piano sat in the rural farmhouse, atop which sat signed photos of the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, the Carters, and Richard Nixon, next to her congressional gold medal, and various other medals, awards, and keys to a slough of cities worldwide. In 1992, her health failing at age 95, she moved to Portland, Oregon, to live with her nephew, conductor James DePreist. She died of congestive heart failure at home in Portland on April 8, 1993, one month after she had suffered a stroke. Her husband, architect Orpheus H. King Fisher, whom she married in 1943, died in 1985, and Anderson is survived only by DePreist. By the time of her death, Anderson told People, one of her greatest dreams, though bittersweet, had come true: Other Negroes, she said, will have the career I dreamed of. Though very few recordings of Anderson exist, the Metropolitan Opera Guild released a disc of the artists songs, spirituals, oratorio, and opera after her death.

Sources

Books

Anderson, Marian, My Lord, What a Morning, Viking Press, 1956.

New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Second Edition, Volume One, Macmillan Publishers, 2001.

Sadie, Stanley, ed., New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Macmillan Press, 1992.

Periodicals

American Visions, December-January 1992, p. 44.

Billboard, April 24. 1993, p. 8.

Jet, April 26. 1993, p. 14.

Opera News, July 1993, p. 54.

People, April 26. 1993, p. 126.

Brenna Sanchez

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Sanchez, Brenna. "Anderson, Marian 1897–1993." Contemporary Black Biography. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson (1902-1993) is remembered as one of the best American contraltos of all time. She was the first African American singer to perform at the White House and also the first African American to sing with New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, 1902, and was educated in the public schools. She displayed a remarkable flair for singing when very young. Local supporters provided funds for study with Agnes Reifsneider and, later, Giuseppe Boghetti. When Anderson was 23, she entered a competition and won first place over 300 other singers, gaining her an engagement with the New York Philharmonic at Lewisohn Stadium. Further sponsorships enabled her to continue her studies in the United States and, after winning the Rosenwald Fellowship, in Europe.

Following debuts in Berlin in 1930 and London in 1932, Anderson concertized in Scandinavia, Germany, South America, and the Soviet Union. In Salzburg, Austria, she gave a sensational performance at the Mozarteum with famous conductor Arturo Toscanini in the audience. Upon hearing her sing, Toscanini reportedly told her she had "a voice heard but once in a century."

Return to the United States

At the end of her European tour, Anderson was an acclaimed sensation in the capitals of Europe, and American impresario Sol Hurok signed her to 15 concerts in the United States. On December 30, 1935, she opened her American tour at New York's Town Hall. The program was typical for Marian Anderson, consisting of songs by Handel, Schubert, Giuseppe Verdi, and Sibelius as well as several black spirituals. The performance was a resounding success, with critics welcoming her as a "new high priestess of song." In the words of a New York Times contributor, the concert established her as "one of the great singers of our time."

Over the next several years Anderson sang for U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House, and she returned to perform for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England during their 1939 visit to the United States. She made several cross country tours and soon was booking engagements two years in advance. In one year she covered 26,000 miles in the longest tour in concert history, giving 70 concerts in five months. After World War II ended, she again performed in major European cities. By 1950, it was estimated that she had performed before nearly 4 million listeners.

Marian Anderson's contralto voice was notable for its power and exceptionally dark texture, particularly in the lowest register. The high voice changed quality—not unusual in a contralto of prodigious range—but idiosyncracies never obliterated the fine musicality and sincere emotion that marked her performances.

Victory Over Racial Discrimination

With Roland Hayes and Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson pioneered in winning recognition at home and abroad for black artists. In 1939, an incident involving the Daughters of the American Revolution did much to focus public attention on racism. The DAR denied Anderson use of their Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. for an April concert. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest, and the U.S. government placed Lincoln Memorial at Anderson's disposal. Her concert there, on Easter morning, drew a live audience of 75,000, and millions more heard it over the radio.

In 1942 she established the Marian Anderson Award for talented young singers; among the recipients were Camilla Williams, Mattiwilda Dobbs, and Grace Bumbry. Anderson married Orpheus H. Fisher, a New York architect, in 1943.

In 1948 Anderson underwent a dangerous operation for the removal from her esophagus of a cyst that threatened to damage her voice. For two months she was not permitted to use her voice and was unsure if she would ever be able to sing again. When she was finally allowed to rehearse, her voice returned free of impairment. Following her recovery, Anderson made her first post-World War II tour of Europe, including stops in Scandinavia, Paris, London, Antwerp, Zurich, and Geneva.

Her Operatic Debut

On Jan. 7, 1955, Anderson sang Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera (The Masked Ball) at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, and she returned the following season in the same role. This was the first time an African American person had sung with the Metropolitan since it opened in 1883.

Over the years, Anderson continued to add to her accomplishments. She sang at the presidential inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. In 1957, as an emissary of the State Department, Anderson made a concert tour of India and the Far East that was filmed by CBS-TV. In 1958 President Eisenhower appointed her a delegate to the 13th General Assembly of the United Nations. Anderson gave her farewell concert at Carnegie Hall on Easter Sunday in 1965.

Describing the range and quality of her voice, New York Times music critic Harold C. Schoenberg wrote: "Those who remember her at her height … can never forget that big resonant voice, with those low notes almost visceral in nature, and with that easy, unforced ascent to the top register. A natural voice, a hauntingly colorful one, it was one of the vocal phenomena of its time."

Marian Anderson's honors included a doctorate of music from Howard University (1938) and honorary degrees from more than 20 other American educational institutions. She received the Springarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1939 and the Bok Award of $10,000 from her hometown of Philadelphia in 1941. In addition to decorations from many foreign governments, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. At age 89, in 1991, Anderson was honored as the subject of a 60-minute documentary broadcast over public television. She died on April 8, 1993.

Renewed accolades abounded in 1997, the centenary year of Anderson's birth. The Marian Anderson Study Center at the University of Pennsylvania was erected to hold her archives. On February 27, the day that would have been her 100th birthday, Robert Shaw conducted a tribute concert at New York's Carnegie Hall, joined by signers including Jessye Norman, William Warfield, and Roberta Peters. At noon the following Saturday, a gala of spirituals and art songs took place at Union Baptist Church, at 19th and Fitzwater Streets in Philadelphia—the church where Anderson prayed and sang as a little girl.

Further Reading

Information on Anderson can be found in the Philadelphia Inquirer (February 26, 1997); Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music (Macmillan, 1986); Sims, Janet L., Marian Anderson: An Annotated Bibliography and Discography (Greenwood, 1981); and Tedards, Anne, Marian Anderson (1988). □

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Anderson, Marian

Marian Anderson

Born: February 27, 1897
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: April 8, 1993
Portland, Oregon

African American opera singer

Marian Anderson is remembered as one of the best American contraltos (women with lower singing voices) of all time. She was the first African American singer to perform at the White House and the first African American to sing with New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Anderson's early years

Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 27, 1897. She was educated in the public schools. She displayed a remarkable skill for singing when she was very young, and she loved singing for her church choir. When she could not afford singing lessons, her fellow choir members raised the money that allowed her to study with a famous singing teacher.

When Anderson was twenty-three years old, she entered a competition and won first place over three hundred other singers. The prize was the opportunity to sing with the New York Philharmonic orchestra. Further sponsorships enabled her to continue her studies in both the United States and in Europe.

Following Anderson's debuts (first performances on stage in a particular city) in Berlin, Germany, in 1930 and London, England, in 1932, she performed in Scandinavia (northern Europe), South America, and the Soviet Union. In Salzburg, Austria, she gave a sensational performance. The famous conductor Arturo Toscanini (18671957) was in the audience. After hearing her sing, Toscanini said she had "a voice heard but once in a century."

Return to the United States

At the end of Anderson's European tour, she was signed to a contract for fifteen concerts in the United States. On December 30, 1935, she opened her American tour at New York's Town Hall. She performed pieces by European classical composers as well as several African American spirituals (traditional religious songs). The performance was a great success. Critics welcomed her as a "new high priestess of song." In the words of a writer for the New York Times, the concert established her as "one of the great singers of our time."

Over the next several years Anderson sang for U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (18821945) at the White House and for Great Britain's King George VI (18951952) during his 1939 visit to the United States. She made several cross-country tours and soon was booking engagements (scheduling jobs) two years in advance. In one year she traveled twenty-six thousand miles. It was the longest tour in concert history. She gave seventy concerts in five months. After World War II (193945; a war fought between Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States against Germany, Italy, and Japan) ended, she performed in major European cities again. By 1950 it was estimated that she had performed before nearly four million listeners.

Victory over racial discrimination

Anderson was a pioneer in winning recognition at home and abroad for African American artists. In 1939 an incident involving the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) helped focus public attention on racism. The DAR denied Anderson use of their Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., for an April concert. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest and had the U.S. government allow Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial. Her concert there, on Easter morning, drew a live audience of seventy-five thousand, and millions more heard it over the radio.

In 1948 Anderson underwent a dangerous throat operation for a growth that threatened to damage her voice. For two months she was not permitted to use her voice. She was not sure if she would ever be able to sing again. When she was finally allowed to rehearse, her voice returned free of damage. Following her recovery, Anderson made her first postWorld War II tour of Europe, including stops in Scandinavia, Paris (France), London (England), Antwerp (Belgium), Zurich (Switzerland), and Geneva (Switzerland).

Operatic debut

In 1955, and again in 1956, Anderson sang in an opera at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. This was the first time an African American had sung with the Metropolitan since it opened in 1883. Over the years Anderson continued to add to her accomplishments. She sang at the presidential inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower (18901969) and John F. Kennedy (19171963). In 1957 Anderson made a concert tour of India and the Far East for the U.S. State Department. In 1958 President Eisenhower appointed her a delegate (representative) to the Thirteenth General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). She was awarded the UN Peace Prize in 1977. Anderson gave her farewell concert (last public performance) at Carnegie Hall in New York on Easter Sunday in 1965. She died on April 8, 1993, in Portland, Oregon.

A New York Times music critic wrote about Anderson this way: "Those who remember her at her height can never forget that big resonant voice, with those low notes almost visceral [having to do with basic emotions] in nature, and with that easy, unforced ascent to the top register. A natural voice, a hauntingly colorful one, it was one of the vocal phenomena [rare event] of its time."

For More Information

Broadwater, Andrea. Marian Anderson: Singer and Humanitarian. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2000.

Keiler, Allan. Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey. New York: Scribner, 2000.

Tedards, Anne. Marian Anderson. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

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Anderson, Marian

Marian Anderson, 1897–1993, American contralto, b. Philadelphia. She was the first African American to be named a permanent member of the Metropolitan Opera Company, as well as the first to perform at the White House. Anderson first sang in Philadelphia church choirs, then studied with Giuseppe Boghetti. She began her concert career in 1924 and achieved her first great successes in Europe. Her rich, wide-ranged voice was superbly suited to opera, lieder, and the spirituals that she included in her concerts and recordings. In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow her to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Eleanor Roosevelt publicly resigned her DAR membership in protest against the racist snub and sponsored Anderson's landmark concert at the Lincoln Memorial. In 1955 Anderson made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera. She was appointed an alternate delegate to the United Nations in 1958 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

See her autobiography, My Lord, What a Morning (1956); biography by A. Keiler (2000); R. Arsenault, The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America (2009).

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Anderson, Marian

Anderson, Marian (b Philadelphia, 1897; d Portland, Oregon, 1993). Amer. contralto. Won comp. to appear with NYPO 1925. First NY recital 1929. London début 1930. Sang mainly in concert repertory but became first black singer at NY Met 1955 (Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera). Delegate to United Nations 1958. Sang at Inauguration of Pres. D. Eisenhower (1953) and at Inauguration Ball of Pres. J. F. Kennedy, 1961. Retired 1965. Autobiography My Lord, What a Morning (NY, 1956).

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MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Anderson, Marian." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Anderson, Marian." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-AndersonMarian.html

MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Anderson, Marian." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-AndersonMarian.html

Anderson, Marian

Anderson, Marian (1902–93) US contralto. She secured her reputation as a singer by touring America and Europe in recitals (1925–35). In 1955, she made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera Company (as Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera) – the first appearance of a black singer in a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera.

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