Penn Library

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song

Kosti Vehanen, Accompanist

Upon her return to the United States in December 1935, after a two-year European stay, Marian Anderson was faced with the difficult decision of choosing her accompanist. Although Billy King had accompanied her in the United States, she had more recently worked with Kosti Vehanen while in Europe. Vehanen had helped her master some of the Scandinavian repertory with which he was familiar, and together they had developed new recital programs. Thus, based on musical grounds, Ms. Anderson invited Vehanen to join her in the United States.

Over the next five years, Ms. Anderson and Vehanen toured widely, both in the United States and abroad, and made a number of recordings--the first, in 1936, was a collection of Schubert Lieder and spirituals. When Vehanen returned to Finland in 1940, he completed the memoirs of his experiences with Ms. Anderson. Marian Anderson: A Portrait, an affectionately-written account of the Anderson-Vehanen collaboration, was published in 1941.

Exhibited above is a 1935 photograph of Vehanen and Ms. Anderson aboard the Ile de France, taken while en route to the United States.

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