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Jussi Bjorling (1911 - 1960)

Jussi Björling’s father, David, trained as a tenor in America at the Metropolitan Opera School, after which he returned to Sweden. Here he become a concert singer and singing teacher, with an especial emphasis upon teaching children, including his own, to sing from an early age; indeed Jussi said that he knew how to read notes before he could read letters. His first three sons, of whom Jussi was the second, made their singing début in 1915 and toured America in 1919 with their father for eighteen months. During this time the group, ‘The Björling Male Quartet’, made its first records, in 1920. After the unexpected death of David in 1926 the group disbanded and Jussi worked in a shop. However in 1928 he was introduced to the manager of the Royal Opera Stockholm, John Forsell, who foresaw a future for him. Björling therefore enrolled at the Stockholm Conservatory and the Royal Opera School, with Forsell and Joseph Hislop as his teachers. The following year he made his first solo recordings. His formal operatic début occurred in 1930 as Don Ottavio/Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera Stockholm, although he had already appeared there in the small part of the Lamplighter/Manon Lescaut. Björling attracted further attention as Arnold/William Tell in the same year and as Jonathan in Carl Nielsen’s Saul and David at the start of 1931, shortly afterwards becoming a permanent member of the company. In the summer of the same year he made a sensational début outside Sweden, at the Tivoli



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