Elisabeth Söderström

Biography

Born: May 7, 1927; Stockholm, Sweden   Died: November 20, 2009; Stockholm, Sweden  
An artist of great intelligence and musical perception, Elisabeth Söderström grew from a promising young lyric soprano to a sovereign artist able to dominate a wide selection of lyric and spinto roles for three decades. Initially underrated (save by those who knew her well), she advanced to being the delight of many of her era's most distinguished conductors. Her recital repertory ranged through the great Austro-German composers, a fruitful Read more assortment of Scandinavians, Benjamin Britten and other important English composers, substantial numbers of Czech and other Central and Eastern Europeans, and a clutch of Russians. She also had a penchant for parlor songs, sometimes slightly naughty. With a voice best described as attractive rather than ravishing, she managed to establish herself as a notable singer of Mozart and Strauss and her performances of Janácek's leading ladies were standard setting.

Söderström's father was Swedish, her mother Russian. She trained with the celebrated coloratura soprano Adelaďde von Skilondz, star of the St. Petersburg Imperial Opera. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music and Opera School in her native Stockholm, Söderström made her debut at the age of 20 at the Drottningholm Court Theatre as Bastienne. She was subsequently engaged by the Swedish Royal Opera, where she remained a member for decades, singing such roles as Louise, Violetta, Mimě, Euridice, the heroines of Les contes d'Hoffman, Pamina, all three soprano principals in Rosenkavalier, Tatiana, and the eponymous characters of Janácek. Söderström made her Salzburg debut in 1955, singing Ighino in Pfitzner's Palestrina. She first sang at England's Glyndebourne Festival in 1957 and remained there for more than two decades, singing roles as light as Susanna and as heroic as Leonore.

In 1959, Söderström made her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera as Susanna. Evidence that management at the various venues she visited (the Metropolitan in particular) did not know quite what to do with her gifts was seen in the fact that in that very same year, 1959, she performed Sophie at the Metropolitan, Octavian at Glyndebourne, and the Marschallin at Stockholm. Only with later engagements did the Met understand her protean talent. In 1960, Söderström made her first appearance at Covent Garden singing Daisy Doody in Karl-Birger Blomdahl's Aniara with the Stockholm Opera.

If the Metropolitan failed to capitalize on Söderström's abilities until a second round of engagements from 1983 to 1987, the rest of the opera world benefited during the interim from acquaintance with a singing actress of the first rank. Söderström's Australian debut came in 1982 when she performed one of her signature Janácek roles, Emilia Marty, in Adelaide. In addition to her appearances in contemporary works by Henze and Ligeti, she had become a welcome guest in Vienna and continued to flourish in the ensemble atmosphere of Glyndebourne, winning special praise for her Frau Storch in Strauss' Intermezzo and for the Countess in the same composer's Capriccio.

Söderström's skills as a recitalist and concert singer were under continual refinement. Her recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis under Otto Klemperer was justly applauded, as was her role in Sir Simon Rattle's recording of Britten's War Requiem. Her winning presence in recital inevitably meant an evening of communicative singing. Her several volumes of Russian song recorded with Vladimir Ashkenazy added immeasurably to Western understanding of this rich, but too seldom performed repertory. Likewise, her explorations of Scandinavian song opened new vistas to those who heard her live performances and listened to her recordings. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 64 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Rachmaninov: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002145102 Release Date: 09/23/2014   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  André Previn,  Peter Jablonski,  Mikhail Pletnev  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Stanislaw Wislocki  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Goldner String Quartet,  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Monteverdi: L'orfeo' Il Ritorno D'ulisse In Patria; L'incoronazione Di Poppea
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 631482 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi
    Performer:  Kurt Equiluz,  Nigel Rogers,  Günther Theuring,  Jacques Villisech  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Munich Capella Antiqua,  Vienna Boys' Choir
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  • 3.
    The Westminster Legacy
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001999302 Release Date: 02/18/2014   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Sena Jurinac,  Lucretia West,  Hans Loeffler,  Frederick Guthrie  ... 
    Conductor:  Hermann Scherchen,  Pierre Monteux,  René Leibowitz,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Academy Chamber Chorus  ... 
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  • 4.
    Britten: Vocal Works
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 151642 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Henry Purcell,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  Neil Mackie,  Barry Tuckwell,  Roger Vignoles  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Steuart Bedford,  Richard Armstrong,  Jeffrey Tate  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  Welsh National Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Sacred Music - Bach, Handel, Beethoven / Klemperer
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 935402 Release Date: 08/20/2013   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Agnes Giebel,  Nicolai Gedda,  Dame Janet Baker  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Haitink, Soderstrom, Appelgren, Gale
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 102307 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Robert Allman,  Curt Appelgren,  Anton de Ridder  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
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  • 7.
    Britten: Choral Works & Operas for Children
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 151562 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Thomas Allen,  Robert Tear,  Elisabeth Söderström,  Mark Blatchly  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  André Previn,  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Philip Ledger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Christ Church Cathedral Choir Men and Boys,  City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus  ... 
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  • 8.
    Janacek: Jenufa / Rosen, Jurinac, Soderstrom, Jones, Et Al
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7704619 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Leos Janácek
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Elisabeth Höngen,  Sena Jurinac,  Anny Felbermayer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jaroslav Krombholc,  Albert Rosen
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  • 9.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7700914 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  George Frideric Handel,  Georges Bizet,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Frederick Schauwecker,  Hjördis [Soprano Vocals] Schymberg,  Bo Lundborg  ... 
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius,  Jean P. Morel,  Herbert Sandberg
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  • 10.
    Ashkenazy - 50 Years on Decca
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001820202 Release Date: 04/02/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Boris Belkin,  Daniel Barenboim,  Fou Ts'ong  ... 
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Lorin Maazel,  Uri Segal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Wind Soloists  ... 
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  • 11.
    Mozart: Operas / Otto Klemperer [11-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 43782 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Yvonne Minton,  Sir Geraint Evans,  Luigi Alva  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
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  • 12.
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 26792 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork,  Lars Anders Tomter,  Elisabeth Söderström,  Mark Blatchly  ... 
    Conductor:  Libor Pesek,  Simon Rattle,  Oliver Knussen,  Iona Brown  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Endymion Ensemble,  Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble
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  • 13.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Richard Strauss Heroines / Nilsson, Price, Della Casa, Gueden, Crespin, Silja
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4805951 Release Date: 03/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hilde Gueden,  Lisa Della Casa,  Barry McDaniel,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Silvio Varviso,  Karl Böhm,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 15.
    Delius - 150th Anniversary Edition [18-CDs]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 0841752 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Frederick Delius
    Performer:  Piers Lane,  John Noble,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Vernon Handley,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Elisabeth Soderstrom - The Russian Songbook
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802067 Release Date: 08/02/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Alexander Grechaninov
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Vladimir Ashkenazy
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  • 17.
    Shostakovich: Piano Quintet / Ashkenazy, Fitzwilliam
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 411940 Release Date: 03/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Elisabeth Söderström,  Christopher Rowland,  Ioan Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fitzwilliam String Quartet
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  • 18.
    Strauss: Intermezzo / Pritchard, Soderstrom, Bakker, London Philharmonic
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 3174 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Richard Allfrey,  Thomas Lawlor,  Elisabeth Gale,  Alexander Oliver  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
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  • 19.
    Life With Czech Music - Janacek, Martinu / Charles Mackerras
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4042 Release Date: 11/30/2010   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Leos Janácek,  Bohuslav Martinu
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Drahomíra Drobková,  Frantisek Livora,  Richard Novák  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus,  Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Label: Caprice Records   Catalog: 21365 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl-Birger Blomdahl
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström
    Conductor:  Sixten Ehrling,  Antal Doráti,  Sergiu Comissiona,  Yuri Ahronovitch
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  • 21.
    Label: Caprice Records   Catalog: 21765 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ingeborg Kjellgren,  Set Svanholm,  Margareta Bergstrom,  Margit Sehlmark  ... 
    Conductor:  Sixten Ehrling
    CD: $37.49
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  • 22.
    Label: Caprice Records   Catalog: 22055 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Kerstin Lofgren,  Ingeborg Kjellgren,  Kerstin [Mezzo-Soprano Vocals] Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Sixten Ehrling,  Nils Grevillius
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  • 23.
    Humperdinck: Hansel And Gretel / Cotrubas, Von Stade
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 79217 Release Date: 09/21/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck
    Performer:  Ruth Welting,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Christa Ludwig,  Siegmund Nimsgern  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala (1983)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001326309 Release Date: 09/15/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Renato Bruson,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Flower Duet - The World's Most Beautiful Duets / Sutherland, Fassbaender, Tebaldi, Horne
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802594 Release Date: 08/04/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Léo Delibes,  Jacques Offenbach,  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Jane Berbié,  Huguette Tourangeau,  Lucia Popp  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Sir Georg Solti,  Sir Colin Davis,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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