Penn Library

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song

The European Tours:

While studying German Lieder in 1930 with Michael Raucheisen and Sverre Jordon in Berlin, Marian Anderson was approached by two men travelling together in search of new talent. They were Rule Rasmussen, a Norwegian manager, and Kosti Vehanen, a Finnish pianist. A six-month tour of Scandinavia was soon arranged with Mr. Vehanen as principal accompanist (a partnership that would endure ten years).

Ms. Anderson first performed in Norway, where she was very well received--as she wrote, "The reaction in Norway . . . was a mixture of open-mindedness and curiosity." The Norwegian concerts were followed by tours of Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. "That first trip to the Scandinavian countries was an encouragement and incentive. It made me realize that the time and energy invested in seeking to become an artist were worth while, and that what I had dared to aspire to was not impossible."

Marian Anderson returned to Scandinavia in 1933 to perform twenty concerts over a two-year period. It was during this trip that she, encouraged and coached by Kosti Vehanen, learned some songs by the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and even performed for him at his home and in concert in Helsinki. His admiration can be discerned by his original composition for Marian Anderson. Other tours followed in 1936, 1949, and the 1950s. In 1949 she was decorated by the Finnish government and in 1952 received from King Gustav of Sweden his government's "Litteris et Artibus" medal.

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