Jussi Björling

Composers

Biography

Born: February 5, 1911   Died: September 9, 1960   Country: Sweden  
Jussi Björling was one of the most admired tenors of the twentieth century. He was never an effective actor on stage nor was he particularly handsome, but his excellent technique, scrupulous musicianship, and beautiful voice, with its powerful and focused top, made him one of the most-demanded stars of his day. Those with a fondness for such comparisons consistently called him "the second Caruso" or "the Swedish Caruso." Some found his rather Read more smooth timbre inexpressive, particularly those used to Gigli's frequent use of sobs and other extra-musical effects, but others found that its directness, combined with his sensitivity to phrasing, made the music all the more expressive. At times he did have a tendency to sing slightly sharp, but to listeners without an acute sense of pitch it was almost undetectable.

Björling came from a musical family and began his career early -- his singing debut came at the age of five. His father, David, was a fine singer who formed the Björling Male Quartet with the older three boys, Olle, Jussi, and Gosta. They performed world-wide, made some recordings for American Columbia (including Jussi's first solo recordings), and settled in the United States in 1920. While they were wildly popular, they had financial problems, and when David Björling died in 1926, the quartet broke up.

In 1928, Jussi succeeded in getting an audition with Karl-Martin Oehmann. Oehrmann was so impressed that he recommended Björling to the Royal Opera in Stockholm, where he was given a stipend for room, board, studies at the conservatory, and a new suit. Two years later, Björling made his operatic debut as the Lamplighter in Puccini's Manon Lescaut and took on his first leading role a month later as Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni. In 1933, he first sang the role of Romeo in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, a role with which he would later become strongly associated. He met Anna-Lisa Berg, a lyric soprano, while at the Swedish Music Academy and Royal Opera school, and their marriage lasted until his death, despite the alcoholism that troubled his entire adult life.

He made his Vienna debut in 1936, his United States debut in a Carnegie Hall concert in 1937 (his United States operatic debut was a short time later that same year, as the Duke of Mantua, in Chicago), and his Salzburg debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. In 1936, he also began a long recording association with HMV. He made his Met debut in 1938 in La Bohème and in 1939 his Covent Garden debut as Manrico. Like those of most other opera singers, his international career was limited by World War II, but when the war was over, he again sang all over the world. In 1950, he took the title role in the famous Met production of Verdi's Don Carlo that inaugurated Rudolf Bing's administration. As his career expanded and he was able to be more selective about his stage roles, he began to limit his repertoire to the major Italian and French lyric roles, with a few forays into the lyrico-spinto repertoire. However, he recorded and performed in concert excerpts from many roles he had never explored on stage, as well as lieder and his beloved Swedish songs.

In March of 1960, Björling had a heart attack before a performance at Covent Garden. While he chose to finish the performance, his symptoms became still more serious, and he and his family returned to Sweden, where he died that September. Read less
Browse 76-36 of 36 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Il Mito Dell'opera - 24 Nessun Dorma Da Turandot
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 1159 Release Date: 07/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Gianfranco Cecchele,  Antonio Salvarezza,  Georges Thill,  Alessandro Granda  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 77.
    Renata Tebaldi - A Portrait
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4324 Release Date: 07/05/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Louis Quilico,  Ermanno Mauro,  Lilian Sukis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  C. B. C. Festival Orchestra
    DVD: $28.99
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  • 78.
    Label: Swedish Society Discofil   Catalog: 1010 Release Date: 04/16/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Peterson-Berger,  Carl Sjöberg,  August Körling,  Wilhelm Stenhammar  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius
    CD: $17.99
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  • 79.
    Puccini: Manon Lescaut / Perlea, Bjoerling, Albanese, Et Al
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 1428 Release Date: 04/12/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Licia Albanese,  Robert Merrill,  Mario Carlin,  Enrico Campi  ... 
    Conductor:  Jonel Perlea
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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  • 80.
    Voice Of Firestone - Great Tenors / Bjorling, Peerce, Corelli, Et Al
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2443 Release Date: 11/16/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Vincenzo D'Annibale,  Eduardo Di Capua,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Franco Corelli,  James McCracken,  Richard Tucker  ... 
    DVD: $18.99
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  • 81.
    Voice Of Firestone - Jussi Bjorling In Opera & Song
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2424 Release Date: 11/16/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Franz Schubert,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Anne-Lisa Björling
    DVD: $18.99
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  • 82.
    Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Violin Concerto / Toscanini
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2248/49 Release Date: 10/26/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Alexander Kipnis,  Zinka Milanov,  Bruna Castagna,  Jussi Björling  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Westminster Choir
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  • 83.
    Classical Music 101 - 101 Famous Classical Themes
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63691 Release Date: 09/28/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Igor Stravinsky,  Georges Bizet,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  José Luis Garcia,  Placido Domingo,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Barry Douglas  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Fritz Reiner,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 84.
    The # 1 Puccini Album
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000300702 Release Date: 08/10/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mario Del Monaco,  Renata Tebaldi,  Rolando Panerai,  Elizabeth Harwood  ... 
    Conductor:  Franco Capuana,  Herbert von Karajan,  Zubin Mehta,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 85.
    Prima Voce - Bjorling, Caruso, Gigli
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7913 Release Date: 03/02/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Georges Bizet,  Giacomo Puccini,  Eduardo Di Capua  ... 
    Performer:  Beniamino Gigli,  Jussi Björling,  Enrico Caruso,  Giuseppe de Luca
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  • 86.
    Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci / Björling, Cellini, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 85650 Release Date: 12/02/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Robert Merrill,  Leonard Warren  ... 
    Conductor:  Renato Cellini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Robert Shaw Chorale,  Columbus Boychoir
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  • 87.
    Toscanini Conducts Two Choral Masterpieces By Beethoven
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 4259 Release Date: 10/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Ania Dorfmann,  Maria Castagna,  Jussi Björling,  Zinka Milanov  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Westminster Choir
    CD: $29.99
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  • 88.
    Producers' Showcase - Festival Of Music Volume 1
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4244 Release Date: 09/30/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Various,  Carl Maria von Weber  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Jussi Björling,  Risë Stevens,  Marian Anderson  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Rudolf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Showcase Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $39.95
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  • 89.
    Bjorling Rediscovered - Carnegie Hall Recital September 1955
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 53231 Release Date: 09/09/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Sjöberg,  Giacomo Puccini,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Frederick Schauwecker
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  • 90.
    San Francisco Opera Gems Vol 1 - Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, Etc
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2238/40 Release Date: 08/26/2003   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Lotte Lehmann,  Kirsten Flagstad,  Lauritz Melchior,  Friedrich Schorr  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Gennaro Papi,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Gaetano Merola
    On sale! $35.98
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  • 91.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Favorite French Excerpts
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8016 Release Date: 07/01/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Jacques Halévy,  Gustave Charpentier,  Edouard Lalo  ... 
    Performer:  Rosa Ponselle,  Emmy Destinn,  Lawrence Tibbett,  Enrico Caruso  ... 
    Conductor:  Erno Rapée,  Carlo Sabajno,  Alberto Erede,  Lorenzo Molajoli  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 92.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Light Opera Gems
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8015 Release Date: 07/01/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Franz Lehár,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Gino Bechi,  Ezio Pinza,  Maria Reining,  Amelita Galli-Curci  ... 
    Conductor:  Franz Lehár,  Percy Pitt,  Carlo Sabajno
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  • 93.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Verdi's Masterworks Vol 2
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8014 Release Date: 07/01/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Tancredi Pasero,  Tito Schipa,  Nina Garelli,  Elvino Ventura  ... 
    Conductor:  Rosario Bourdon,  Vittorio Gui,  Carlo Sabajno,  Herbert Sandberg  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 94.
    The Very Best Of Jussi Björling
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 75900 Release Date: 04/22/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Helen Guy,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Harry Ebert
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius,  Renato Cellini,  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Royal Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 95.
    Three Legendary Tenors / Caruso, Gigli, Bjoerling
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2262 Release Date: 04/15/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Enrico Caruso,  Beniamino Gigli
    DVD: $18.99
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  • 96.
    Operamania
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 44120 Release Date: 10/29/2002   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Umberto Giordano,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Marilyn Horne,  Renata [Soprano vocal] Tebaldi,  Carlo Bergonzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Franco Patanè,  Henry Lewis,  Tullio Serafin,  Nello Santi  ... 
    On sale! $43.98
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  • 97.
    The Opera Album / Alagna, Callas, Pavarotti, Gheorghiu, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67830 Release Date: 08/13/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  José Carreras,  Jessye Norman,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianluigi Gelmetti,  Riccardo Muti,  Alain Lombard,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toscana Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Rhine Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 98.
    Great Voices Of The Past - The 30 Tenors
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8012 Release Date: 08/06/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Jules Massenet,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Lauritz Melchior,  Jussi Björling,  Tito Schipa,  John McCormack  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 99.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Verdi's Masterworks Vol 1
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8010 Release Date: 08/06/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Rosa Ponselle,  Enrico Caruso,  Beniamino Gigli,  Elisabeth Rethberg  ... 
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  • 100.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Jussi Björling
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89553 Release Date: 06/25/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Umberto Giordano,  Giacomo Puccini,  Amilcare Ponchielli  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  Emil Markow
    Conductor:  Renato Cellini,  Nils Grevillius
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra,  Royal Stockholm Opera Orchestra
    On sale! $22.98
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