Penn Library

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song

The European Tours:
England & the Continent

By the late 1920s Marian Anderson was convinced that the only way to develop her vocal acuity and expand her concert tours was to venture to Europe. Her manager at the time--Arthur Judson--had been persistently suggesting that she "switch" her training and work to that of a soprano: something that she knew would only shorten rather than augment her performing career.

In October 1927 Marian Anderson sailed to London, where she sought out Roger Quilter who had once befriended Roland Hayes. Quilter ultimately served as introduction to composers and performers as well as British society. Although she performed "Air de Lia" from Debussy's L'Enfant prodigue and other songs for the Promenade Concerts, this first trans-Atlantic trip proved less than completely fulfilling. She determined that her next trip would be to Germany to afford the study and refinement of her performance of German Lieder. This trip was financed by a scholarship from the Julius Rosenwald Fund.

In addition to the training and experience received and the unprecedented success in Scandinavia, perhaps the most noteworthy--certainly the most famous--moment in all of Marian Anderson's tours of Europe was her performance in Salzburg, Austria in 1935. Although she performed at the Salzburg Festival, her initial concert was not well publicized and was poorly attended. A second performance was given, however, one afternoon in the ballroom of one of the city's hotels. Conductor Arturo Toscanini attended this concert and is quoted as proclaiming that "a voice like hers is heard only once in a hundred years."

Examples of Lieder from Marian Anderson's Music Collection

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