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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Jenny Lind

Johanna Maria “Jenny” Lind was born in Stockholm on October 6, 1820,  the illegitimate daughter of Niclas Jonas Lind (1798–1858), a bookkeeper, and Anne-Marie Fellborg (1793–1856), a schoolteacher.

When Lind was about nine years old, her singing was overheard by the maid of Mademoiselle Lundberg, the principal dancer at the Royal Swedish Opera. An audition was arranged and she was accepted into the acting school of Stockholm's  Royal Dramatic Theatre.

She made her operatic debut in 1838 in Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz (The Freeshooter) and by the age of 20, she was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and court singer to the King of Sweden and Norway.

Her voice was damaged from overwork, and in 1841 Lind went to Paris to study with the illustrious teacher Manuel Garcia.

She toured Denmark in 1843 where she met Hans Christian Andersen. The Danish children's writer met and fell in love with her, but Lind did not reciprocate his romantic feelings. She is believed to have inspired three of his fairy tales: Beneath the Pillar, The Angel and The Nightingale.

Lind was admired equally for her skilled coloratura (singing ornately embellished music) in opera and oratorio and her appealing style in simple songs.

Lind as Amina in La sonnambula in the 1840s

Lind's most popular role was in Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable (Robert the Devil), and when she sang it in London in 1847 it was reported that the town "went mad about the Swedish nightingale."

Lind was idolized by the public both in opera and in concert, but she considered opera to be immoral and refused to sing evil roles.

She gave up the operatic stage in 1849. Lind's last opera performance was on May 10th of that year. in Robert le diable; Queen Victoria and other members of the Royal Family were present.

In 1850 P. T. Barnum brought Jenny Lind to America. 4,476 tickets were auctioned for the first concert by the "Swedish Nightingale", soprano in her tour of the United States. On May 29, 1852 she eventually left New York after her unprecedented two-year American tour.


Under Barnum's management Lind gave 93 concerts in America; for these, she earned about $350,000, and he netted at least $500,000. She donated her profits to her chosen charities, principally the endowment of free schools in Sweden.

Lind's devotion and generosity to charitable causes remained a key aspect of her career and greatly enhanced her international popularity even among the unmusical

Lind married her accompanist, Otto Goldschmidt, on February 5, 1852, near the end of the tour, in Boston. She took the name Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt both privately and professionally.

Jenny Lind and Otto Goldschmidt

Lind and her husband moved to England in 1855. There she appeared in oratorios and recitals.

Soprano Jenny Lind by Eduard Magnus, 1862

Lind retired from singing in 1883 (her last public appearance was at a charity concert at Royal Malvern Spa) and taught at the Royal College of Music in London until 1886.

Jenny Lind died, aged 67, at Wynd's Point, Malvern, Worcestershire on November 2, 1887 and was buried in the Great Malvern Cemetery to the music of Chopin's "Funeral March." She bequeathed a considerable part of her wealth to help poor Protestant students in Sweden receive an education.

Source Compton's Encyclopedia

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