1821 – 1886
Jenny Lind, a Swedish vocalist. From infancy she manifested an unusual talent for singing. When nine years old she entered the musical academy at Stockholm, where she made such progress that at the end of a year she was deemed fitted for the stage. For two years she performed to the delight of Stockholm audiences, when the upper notes of her voice became clouded and harsh, and the idea of preparing for her grand opera was abandoned. For four years she remained in obscurity, forbidden to exercise her voice, and finding her chief enjoyment in studying instrumental music.
When about sixteen years of age, accident brought her upon the stage one night, temporarily to assume an unimportant part in one of Meyerbeer’s operas, and she discovered that her voice had returned to her with more than its former purity and power. She now became the reigning prima donna of the Stockholm opera, and in 1844 sang before a Berlin audience. Thenceforth her reputation increased with every performance, and in Vienna and other musical cities she was received with great enthusiasm.
In May, 1847, she made her début before a London audience, and excited a sensation almost without parallel in the history of the opera in England. In September, 1850, she came to America, under and engagement with P. T. Barnum to give a series of 150 concerts. Her first concert in New York excited the wildest enthusiasm, and hundreds of dollars were paid for choice seats. Her share of the proceeds of this concert, amounting to about $10,000, was bestowed upon local charities.
In Boston she was married to Otto Goldschmidt, a young pianist who had accompanied her on a part of her American tour. Returning with him to Europe, she definitely retired from the stage, and after residing for a while at Dresden, removed to London, where she frequently sang in concerts and oratorio, generally for charity.
The entire proceeds of the American tour, amounting to more than $100,000, were devoted by Jenny Lind to various benevolent objects. From the days of her early girlhood it had been her chief delight to use for the good of others the wealth which her genius brought her. She was ever ready to sing for a hospital, or a college, or a poor fellow-artist, or for the chorus, orchestra, or scene-shifters of the theatres where she appeared. “Is it not a beautiful that I can sing so?” she exclaimed when she was told that a large number of the children would be saved from wretchedness by a concert she had given for their benefit.
The Swedish nightingale, as she was called, had a soprano voice, embracing a register two and a half octaves, not less remarkable for sweetness and purity of tone than for its sympathetic power. In the interpretation of many varieties of music, from the oratorios of Handel to the rondos of Rossini or Donizetti, or simple ballads, she was without a rival.
A bust of the great singer was unveiled in Westminster Abbey in 1894.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.