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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 76-100 of 151 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    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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  • 77.
    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
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  • 78.
    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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  • 79.
    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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  • 80.
    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  ... 
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  • 81.
    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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  • 82.
    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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  • 83.
    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  ... 
    CD: $23.99
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  • 84.
    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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  • 85.
    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  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 86.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 87.
    Jussi Bjorling Sings Highlights From Verdi's
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6375 Release Date: 06/06/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Audrey Schuh,  Suzy [Sorpano Vocal] Morris,  Martha Larrimore  ... 
    Conductor:  Walter Herbert
    CD: $14.99
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  • 88.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Opera's Greatest Heroes
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8007 Release Date: 05/07/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Richard Wagner,  Mikhail Glinka  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Beniamino Gigli,  Lauritz Melchior  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 89.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Opera's Super Villains
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8008 Release Date: 05/07/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Lawrence Tibbett,  Emmy Destinn,  Jussi Björling,  Apollo Granforte  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 90.
    Puccini's Masterworks / Bjorling, Gigli, Melba, Muzio, Et Al
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8005 Release Date: 05/07/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Nellie Melba,  Mario Del Monaco,  John McCormack,  Giuseppe Di Stefano  ... 
    On sale! $13.98
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  • 91.
    Puccini: La Boheme / Beecham, De Los Angeles, Bjorling
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 67753 Release Date: 04/09/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Robert Merrill,  John Reardon,  Giorgio Tozzi,  Lucine Amara  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Victor Chorus,  Columbus Boychoir
    Recommendation
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  • 92.
    Label: Encore Recordings (Uk)   Catalog: 1999 Release Date: 04/02/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Pietro Mascagni
    Performer:  Mary Costa,  Ron Bottcher,  Giulietta Simionato,  Andre Montral  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli
    On sale! $32.98
    CD: $28.99
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  • 93.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Great Opera Ensembles
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8003 Release Date: 01/01/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Wagner,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Lawrence Tibbett,  Herman Dreeben,  Nicholas Massue,  Henri Albers  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 94.
    Rca Red Seal Century - Vocalists
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63860 Release Date: 11/06/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Luisa Tetrazzini,  Titta Ruffo,  Giovanni Martinelli,  Alma Gluck  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Pasternack,  Rosario Bourdon,  Renato Cellini,  Marcello Viotti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $29.98
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  • 95.
    The Golden Age Of Singing Vol 4 - 1930-1950
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7056 Release Date: 10/02/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Francesco Cilèa,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad,  Martin Lawrence,  Mariano Stabile,  Tito Gobbi  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede,  Umberto Berrettoni,  Frank Edward Tours,  Karl Alwin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 96.
    Opera Goes To The Movies
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60841 Release Date: 08/21/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Friedrich von Flotow,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Leontyne Price,  Montserrat Caballé,  Alfredo Kraus  ... 
    Conductor:  Nello Santi,  James Levine,  Edward Downes,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 97.
    Essential Puccini - 36 of His Greatest Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460969 Release Date: 08/14/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  José Carreras,  Mario Del Monaco,  Renata Tebaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Franco Capuana,  Herbert von Karajan,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $15.99
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  • 98.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Legendary Opera Duets
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8001 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Herva Nelli,  Ramon Vinay,  Lawrence Tibbett,  Rose Bampton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 99.
    The #1 Tenor Album / Alagna, Bergonzi, Björling, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470021 Release Date: 07/10/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  José Carreras,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Mario Del Monaco,  Jussi Björling  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Piero Gamba,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Maurizio Benini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera Teatro Reale Orchestra,  Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 100.
    Viva Verdi!
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89223 Release Date: 04/24/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Toti Dal Monte,  Mariano Stabile,  Elisabeth Rethberg,  Mario Basiola  ... 
    On sale! $46.98
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