Jussi Björling (Sweden, 1911-60)

Figure 1.-- Here we see famed Swedish tennor, we think in the late-1940s being greeted by his youngest son Lars after returning from a concert tour in the United States. There is a press caption in Swedish, but we can not make it out very well. He apprently was coming back from Holluwood. Click in the image if you want to have alook at the Swedish text.

Johan Jonatan 'Jussi' Björling was born in the provincial town of Borlänge (1911). This was in Dalarna province, some 220 km NW of Stockholm. Jussi's father, David Björling was a tenor and singing teacher and music was the center of his family life. He trained the voices of his children at a very early age. Jussi was child protegy. The three oldest children (Olle, Jussi and Gösta) made their first public performance in a church at the age of 4 years (1915). They sang as the Björling Male Quartet often selecting Swedish folk songs. The boys wore what look like Swedish folk costumes. After World War I. David took his boys on tour (1919-20). They toured throughout Sweden and eventually reached the United States. They made six recordings (1920). This began Jussi's relationship with America. Unlike many child prodigies, Björling had an enormously sucessful adult career -- some times referred to as the 'Swedish Caruso'. Jussi was a Swedish tenor, the greatest Swedish singer of the 20th century. He was also one the leading operatic singers of the 20th century, popular throughout Europe and with an especially important American following. A reader tells us, "Enjoyed the posting on Jussi Bjoring. I am an opera fan and Bjoring was one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. His high Cs were second to none. I have a live recoding of his Romeo from the Met in 1949 that is absolutely incredible." [Libby] Björling delivered many performances at important European opera houses, but was most associated with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He married in 1935 and had three children in addition to an earlier son. He oldest son Rolf also was an accomplished singer. His wife describes him as a loving husband and father, but family life was unfortunately marred by alcoholism. This was also a factor in his tragically early death.


Libby, Mitchell. E-mail message (May 5, 2015).


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Created: 4:52 AM 5/4/2015
Last updated: 12:56 AM 5/5/2015