Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal

Lauritz Melchior Web

1920-1924

Mini-Bio-Timeline  Filmography  Bibliography Repertoire Photo Gallery Selected Recordings

Performance Chronologies:

1890-1920                    1924-1926   1926-1929   1929-1931 

1931-1933   1933-1935   1935-1936   1936-1938   1938-1939

1939-1941   1941-1945   1945-1947   1948-1950   1950-1955

1956-1973

Warning! This performance chronology is very incomplete. It will be updated frequently. All information is subject to revision. Please bring factual or typographical errors to my attention so that they may be corrected as soon as possible. Thank you.


Summer 1920 to Summer 1924

Thirty year old Lauritz Melchior travels to England, performs frequently at Promenade Concerts at Queen's Hall in London, takes part in some of England's earliest radio broadcasts, becomes a pupil first of Victor Beigel in London, then of Anna Bahr-Mildenburg in Munich, and then of Ernst Grenzebach in Berlin; makes his concert and opera debuts in Germany; makes his first recordings in German for Grammophon /Polydor); prepares for the 1924 postwar reopening of Bayreuth Festival; and makes his debut as Siegmund, at Covent Garden.


 

From Denmark to England

 

22 June 1920-Melchior leaves for England, where he will sing at "many distinguished garden parties, in the great music halls, and perhaps at Covent Garden." (Politiken, p. 7, 18 June)   
30 July 1920
  • RADIO: Melchior, as a Scandinavian singer in England, participates in the first broadcast from England to the Scandinavian capitals over experimental radio (then called the "wireless telephone"), from the Marconi Station at Chelmsford, England.

    "It was very easy to hear the opera singer, Lauritz Melchior, singing the Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and English national songs," reports the Times' Copenhagen correspondent in response to the broadcast.
6 September 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London. Melchior sings "Lohengrin's Narration" at [his first?] Promenade Concert. The conductor of all Melchior's Promenade Concerts will be Sir Henry Wood.

Melchior will perform in Danish and English only at his earliest Promenade Concerts. Singing in German is still mostly 'verboten' on English stages; German opera, when performed, is done in English translations, as is being done at the Metropolitan Opera in the United States as well. Lauritz Melchior may not start studying German formally until around 1922.

[10 September 1920-Lauritz Melchior's daughter Birte Melchior is born in Copenhagen]
23 September 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London.

"M. Lauritz Melchior sang the "Steersman's Song" (Flying Dutchman) with conviction. He has a fine tenor, and it settles on its note as a bee, and not a butterfly, settles on a flower. He meant us to like his song, and we did- more than ever before." (Times, p. 8)

"M. Melchior, the Danish tenor, has appeared again, but without making the furore that he did on his first appearance a couple of weeks ago. If not one of the finest tenors I have ever heard, he is certainly one of the loudest." (Ernest Newman, Sunday Times, 26 Sept., p. 6)

2 October 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London. Melchior performs "Vesti la Giubba."
[on or before 7 October 1920]-Lauritz Melchior's Prominade Concerts yield intended results. Today he meets Hugh Walpole, 36, popular novelist of the day, who had heard Melchior sing at the Promenade Concert of 23 September and identified with Melchior's ambitions. Lauritz Melchior said in 1969,
“My development into a heroic tenor would not have been possible had it not been for the generous financial help of the British novelist Hugh Walpole. He believed in me, encouraged me, and helped me through those crucial years [of vocal and artistic transformation].” [quoted in Jellinek, George. (1969, August). Stereo Review talks to Lauritz Melchior. Stereo Review, p. 65.]

Over the next few years, Melchior will stay at Hugh Walpole’s house at 24 York Terrace, Regent's Park when  performing in London.
 
11 October 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall. London.  Melchior sings the "Rome Narrative" from Tannhäuser.
16 October 1920
  • Concert: Chappell Ballad Concert, Queens Hall, London.
17 October 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London. Melchior sings "Lohengrin's Narration," Heise's "Den var Engang," and "The Blind Ploughman."
20 October 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings "Siegfried's Forging Songs."
23 October 1920
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London.  Melchior sings "Celeste Aida."

 

From England to Denmark

 

21 November 1920
  • Royal Opera, Copenhagen: Samson & Delilah. Melchior is a replacement for Poul Wiedemann.
23 November 1920
  • Recital: Kasinos Konserthal, Copenhagen. Melchior accompanies opera singer Lilli Hoffmann in opera duets; Anna Marie Jørgensen is accompanist.
Politiken: "Melchior assisted in a series of duets, where his beautiful voice was highly effective" (26 Nov., p. 3)
28, 30 November 1920
  • Royal Opera, Copenhagen: Tannhäuser. Melchior, Holger Bruusgaard, --, --, Nørregaard-Hansen. The subsequent performance, scheduled for the 12th of December, is cancelled.
Politiken: "Like last year, he sang his part beautifully" (29 Nov., p. 9)
12 December 1920
  • Rådhus Concert, Copenhagen: Melchior replaces Ejnar Forchhammer in a group concert, a "first rate replacement...who like all the other performers [organist Louis Claussen, singers Emmy Høy, Gunna Breuning-Storm and Albert Høeberg] was the object of strong approval" Politiken, p. 6
25 December 1920
  • Royal Opera, Copenhagen: Liden Kirsten. Lauritz Melchior (Sverkel), Lilly Lamprecht (Kirsten), Ellen Nielsen (Etle)

 

[c. 1920-1921]*month(s) of production to be determined
  • Recording sessions: Nordisk Polyphon, Copenhagen. Lauritz Melchior makes over a dozen phonograph recordings in Copenhagen, showcasing a tenor voice of constricted range, strained at top, breathless at bottom. It is the natural state of affairs considering the still-limited success of his vocal training. The highlights of these recordings are Melchior's first tries at the "Spring Song" and "In Fernem Land."

 



1921

 1 January 1921
  • Royal Opera, Copenhagen: Liden Kirsten.
16 January 1921
  • 1. Concert, Oddfellow Pal. st. Sal, Copenhagen. Conductor, Fr. Schnedler-Petersen, accompanist, Otto Olsen. "In Fernem Land," ballads by Merikanto, Pardjærve(sp?), and patriotic songs by Rygaard.
Politiken: "He is not a genuine tenor and will never become one. His singing is youthful and hearty and his delightful assertiveness is disarming, but he squeezes his high notes, and the whole voice's forced singing manner detracts significantly from the originally attractive baritonal sound." (Ax. K., p. 7)

2. Concert, Raadhushall, Copenhagen. "Otello's Aria" from Otello (Verdi), "Oreward" by Samuel Liddle, "Robert Comings" by Clark. (sp?) (the latter two probably "Boosey Ballads")
5 February 1921
  • Concert: Royal Opera, Copenhagen. Melchior and Ida Møller sing arias from Lange-Müller's opera Fru Jeanna
abt. 5 February 1921
  • Special Apperance: Lauritz Melchior sings at a festival given by a veteran's organization for a newly written patriotic song called "Kristiansborg" (Howalt/Nathansen/Carlsen), which he then records for Nordisk Polyphon.
January-February 1921
  • Royal Opera, Copenhagen: Pagliacci (21 February)
  • Special Appearances: hymns for funerals. In Copenhagen, Melchior sings at every engagement he is able to obtain. He is also studying the role of Florestan as a potential understudy for the Opera's favorite local tenor, Niels Hansen.
  • In February, Melchior returns to England to fulfill his Spring concert engagements in that country.

 

From Denmark to England

 

1 March 1921
  • Concert: Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool, England. Melchior performs at a Philharmonic concert conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty.

"Melchior...used his fine voice a trifle vehemently" (Musical Times, April 1, 1921)

12 March 1921
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings "Lohengrin's Narration".
13 March 1921
  • Concerts: Promenade Concerts, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior performs two concerts, one at 3:30 PM and one at 7 PM.
19 March 1921
  • Concert: Chappell Ballad Concert, Queen's Hall, London
6 April 1921
  • Concert: Wigmore Hall, London. Gluntarne, Wennerberg's comedic Swedish song cycle, with bass Holger Hansen. 

The Musical Times: "Mr. Melchior sang more gently than some of his performances in larger halls would have led one to expect....[The songs], half-sung, half-acted, with a good sense of humour, were extremely popular with the whole audience, but especially with the Norsemen present..." (May 1, 1921, p. 348).

May 1921-Melchior spends this month in Cornwall, during which time he may have given some private salon performances.  
8 June 1921
  • Concert: Wigmore Hall, London. Melchior gives a repeat performance of Wennerberg's Gluntarne song cycle, again with bass Holger Hansen, and Harold Craxton at the piano.
13 June 1921
  • Special Appearance: Melchior sings for Queen Alexandra at Marlborough House, London with Harold Craxton at the piano.
June-July 1921
  • Concerts: Melchior gives performances around the British Isles, including Ireland, Isle of Man, England, Scotland.

 

From England to France

 

July 1921-Melchior spends two weeks in Paris.  

 

To England

 

13 August 1921
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings "Vesti la Giubba" in Danish.

    The Musical Times: "[Melchior's] fine voice and abundant energy brought the house down" (A. Kalisch, Sep. 1, p. 626)
22 August 1921
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings "Tannhäuser's Pilgrimage," and "Oh Princess" (O Fürstin) in duet with Louise Trenton at the Promenade Concert at Queens Hall today.
2 September 1921 
  • Special Appearance: Melchior sings "En Engel har rört den pande" at the funeral of the Danish Minister in London today.
5 September 1921
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings the first act of The Valkyrie in English with Carrie Tubb, Horace Stevens, and Malcolm McEachern.

Times: "Mr. Lauritz Melchior was at his best in the passionate moments of the love-duet; here one did not notice his occasional difficulties in dealing with the English translation."

10 October 1921
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings excerpts from Meistersinger.
15 October 1921
  • Concert: Chappell Ballad Concert, Queens Hall, London.
November 1921-Melchior meets prominent London-born singing teacher Victor Beigel, but will not start training with him until next year. In the meantime, he socializes and networks. The first wife of American novelist Sinclair Lewis, for example, will recall meeting Melchior at Walpole's literary parties:

Lauritz Melchior was living with Walpole at that time....and I remember how he [Melchior] would ask us all to sit quietly while he listened entranced to records of his own voice [Lewis, Grace Hegger. (1955). With love from Gracie: Sinclair Lewis, 1912-1925. New York: Harcourt, Brace.]

Melchior also performs at other literary functions, such as Catherine Amy Dawson-Scott's 'To-Morrow Club,' precursor to her 'International PEN Club.'  Novelist Henry Williamson, for example, remembered in a letter to Ms. Dawson-Scott, one "thrilling afternoon [at the To-Morrow Club] when Lauritz Melchior sang and revealed a great talent." [Quoted in: Watts, Marjorie. (1971). PEN: the early years 1921-1926. London: Archive Press, p. 6).


 
15 November 1921
  • Recital: Sheffield, Yorkshire. A joint recital
26 November 1921
  • Concert: Chappell Ballad Concert, Queens Hall, London
27 November 1921
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London. A joint concert with pianist Myra Hess. Melchior sings "Vesti la Giubba" and "Come, Friend" by Graham Peel.
12 December 1921
  • Concert/Recital: Usher Hall, Edinburgh. Sir Landon Ronald.

The Scotsman: "In sheer beauty of tone, the British singer may, and frequently does, surpass his or her Continental rival. But the foreign artist of a good type commonly works upon a much better foundation. Technique has been more thoroughly mastered, and there is ordinarily a greater breadth of understanding and consequent distinction of conception....[With the Scottish Orchestra conducted by Ronald] Melchior gave a fine rendering of the "Prize Song"....[Then, accompanied by Jean Singleton on piano Melchior sang songs by Hannikainen, Grieg, Hageman, and Peel]...In everything Mr. Melchior had a remarkable success, and there was more than the customary enthusiasm in the insistent recalls, which only a double encore satisfied [Sjöberg's "Music" and Craxton's "Come You, Mary."] Mr. Melchior has a splendid tenor voice of a robust quality, and he has that priceless gift in a singer, of delivering his words with the same beauty as his notes." (p.4)

 

From England to Denmark

 

18, 28 December 1921
  • Royal Danish Opera

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1922

3 January 1922
  • Special Appearance: Melchior performs at Amalienborg Palace (Denmark's Royal Palace).

 

From Denmark to England

 

29 January 1922
  • Concert: La Scala Theatre, Dublin. Melchior performs Italian opera arias conducted by Vincent O'Brien.

Irish Times: "[Taking the place of an indisposed Lenghi Cellini was] a new Danish tenor, Herr Lauritz Melchior, from the Copenhagen Opera House, whose brilliant singing scored a remarkable triumph....Herr Melchior altered the programme to include "La Tosca" and "Pagliacci" excerpts, and from the splendid way in which they were rendered one could but feel grateful. In Canio, especially, one felt that it was not the song he was singing, but a glimpse of the actual part. His finale was artistic and very original. In the Puccini duet this fine feeling was also evident" (p.5)

4 February 1922
  • Concert: Chappell Ballad Concert, Queens Hall, London.
12 February 1922
  • Concerts: Promenade Concerts, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings the Preisleid from Meistersinger and "Isobel" by Frank Bridge at 3:30 and 7PM.
27 February 1922
  • Special Appearance: Melchior, along with Walpole, poet John Drinkwater, and actor Henry Ainley, entertains guests in the drawing room of #10 Downing Street, London [residence of Prime Minister Lloyd George, not present] as part of a benefit for the "Day Servant's Hostel."

 

From England to Austria & Germany

 

March-April 1922-Melchior travels to Vienna and Munich.  Staying for ten days at the Hotel Sacher, the grand hotel opposite the Vienna Opera, he has an unsuccessful audition before Dr. Franz Schalk. In Munich, Melchior auditions successfully for training with Anna Bahr-Mildenburg (1872-1947), a retired Wagnerian 'hochdramatische sopran' with close connections to Bayreuth, a highly respected voice teacher. In early April, Melchior returns to London.  

 

From Germany to England

 

April-June 1922 In London, Melchior is now preoccupied with learning German and taking singing lessons. "[Victor Beigel], first and foremost, taught me excellent breathing," Melchior later affirmed. (Jerrild, p. 529)  
2 May 1922
  • RADIO: Melchior gives a radio concert from Writtle, Essex, England at 7 pm. Melchior's accompanist is Morwenna Felce and he sings "Ujaraks Song" from the opera Kaddara by Børresen, "The Blind Ploughman," "Vesti la Giubba," and "Sometimes in My Dreams" by d'Hardelot. This is one of the first entertainment radio broadcasts in England, with a potential audience of thousands.

From England to Denmark

 

Late Summer 1922-Melchior is home in Copenhagen.  

 

From Denmark to England (&Ireland)

 

20 August 1922
  • Concert: La Scala, Dublin Philharmonic, Dublin.  It is a joint concert with his Promenade Concert colleague Carrie Tubb. Vincent O'Brien conducts. Melchior sings excerpts from Il Trovatore, Tannhäuser, La Boheme, Pagliacci, and songs in English.

"Mr. Melchior, singing "off," imbued what often becomes mere tripping rhythm, real passion and fervor through Manrico's farewell. It is rare that one hears a familiar...hackneyed work with such pleasure; and this duet [with Carrie Tubb as Leonora), itself an encore, was received with enthusiasm and repeated....Mr. Melchior sang, with many poetic suggestions [Che Gelida Manina]....[In that aria and Vesti la Giubba he] was delightfully followed....In the three grouped English songs he was hardly so successful [as in the arias and "The Blind Ploughman"]...."Do Not Go, My Love" however, was tender and smooth in delivery."  Irish Times, p. 4

23 August 1922
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London
16 September 1922
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London
21 September 1922
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London
26 September 1922
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queen's Hall, London. Melchior sings Danish opera arias by Enna and Børresen at 8PM.

 

From England to Germany

 

[Lauritz Melchior arrives in a Germany reeling from the losses of war, nearly 2 million soldiers dead; the economy is in the dregs, and hyperinflation begets panic and desperation as the cost of a mere loaf of bread climbs to hundreds of billions of Marks by the end of 1923.]
 

4 October 1922-Lauritz Melchior, having arrived in Munich, is issued a pass for Munich's Bavarian State Theatre today. He begins intensive Wagnerian studies with Anna Bahr-Mildenburg.  


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1923

[7 February 1923-Kristine Jensen, the housekeeper/ author who raised Lauritz Melchior from infancy, dies today in Copenhagen.

She is the first of four people closest to Melchior who will die within the next six years; the other three are Melchior's father, brother, and first wife.]

 

 

From Germany to England

 

March 1923
  • Concerts: Melchior returns to England this month for a number of concerts, including:
[22 March 1923]
  • Special Appearance: "Mr Lauritz Melchior, of the Royal Opera, Copenhagen," Mme. Marguerite Namara, Lady Dean Paul, the Arnaut Brothers, Mr Noel Coward, and the Balalaika Orchestra are scheduled, according to the Times, to perform at a benefit concert for the Red Triangle Working Boys' Clubs, 11 Cariton Terrace, London, in the presence of the Queen of England today.

 

From England to Germany

 

April 1923
  • Recital: Odeon Hall, Munich. The accompanist is composer Richard Trunk.

"In spite of outward success, critics were much divided about the huge-voiced heldentenor Lauritz Melchior of the Royal Opera, Copenhagen. For my part, the merits of his vocal technique seem inversely proportional to the size of his voice, a deficiency for which not even a robust spirit can compensate." Hermann Nüssle in the June 1923 Die Musik (p. 706).

3 May 1923-Melchior auditions for Cosima and Siegfried Wagner at Bayreuth and is hired to perform at the 1924 Bayreuther Festspiele. He does some rehearsing with Festival coaches such as Karl Kittel.

The festival is being held for the first time since the start of the First World War close to a decade earlier. Although the international interest in German opera is nowhere near what it had been before the war, his prestigious engagement will mark the beginning of major critical attention for Lauritz Melchior.

Melchior then returns to London for his Summer and Fall concerts.

 

 

From Germany to England

 

7 June 1923
  • Concert: Queens Hall, London. Melchior performs at a Scandinavian-themed concert at 8:15 this evening.
9 July 1923
  • Special Appearance: Melchior sings for Queen Alexandra in London.
August 1923
  • Recitals around England including:
[29 August 1923]
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London. Melchior sings "O Paradis".
20 September 1923
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London.
8 October 1923
  • Concert: Promenade Concert, Queens Hall, London. Melchior sings the "Steersman's Song" from The Flying Dutchman.
14 October 1923
  • Concert: La Scala Theatre, Dublin. Melchior is one of the soloists at a concert conducted by John Moody, with Lucy Leenane as piano accompanist. In this concert he sings his selections from Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Tosca, La Boheme,and Pagliacci in Danish, and English songs.

"At the conclusion of his concert [Melchior] received something of an ovation....Mr. Melchior sings, first and always, the music; the feeling and compass are there, but not obtruded. This was to be noted in the English songs. The La Tosca arias...gave most readily Mr. Melchior's truth of pitch in nuances of quick grading and contrast, while [Che Gelida Manina and Vesti la Giubba] might serve as models of success in restraint to those of our singers who treat them as mere emotional outlets." Irish Times, p. 4

 

17 October 1923
  • Concert: Scheduled: Sheffield, Yorkshire.

 

From England to Germany

 

November/December 1923
  • Melchior is in Berlin.

1. Recording sessions: Grammophon/Polydor, Berlin. Wagner excerpts (mostly). These are Lauritz Melchior's first recordings the German language, which he started learning last year and which he has never sung on stage in a complete opera. Recordings include his only published excerpt from Aida, with Margarethe Arndt-Ober as Amneris.

2. Concert: Berlin. Melchior's Berlin concert debut is a joint concert with Frida Leider conducted by Leo Blech on 8 November, which features the two in the duet from Act I of Die Walküre, which they also record together for Grammophon/Polydor.

November/December 1923-Melchior begins studies with Ernst Grenzebach, a notable Berlin voice teacher.  


[8-9 November 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch", Munich; the Nazi Party's failed attempt to stage a coup from their headquarters in Munich]

 

December 1923
  • Recital tour: Richard Trunk is his accompanist. Performance dates include Prague.
15 December 1923
  • Concert: Munich. Melchior gives a (Wagner?) concert conducted by Siegfried Wagner (part of the above "tour")?

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1924

January 1924-For at least part of January, Melchior is in Munich. He may also travel to Berlin for part of this month, and/or part of February, to receive more coaching from Grenzebach."Two singers from the school of the highly praised, renowned singing master Ernst Grenzebach, the heldentenor Lauritz Melchior and the bass Heinrich Hermann are to sing in the German opera performances at Covent Garden in London." (Allgemeine Musik Zeitung, 2 May 1924, p.298).  
22 February 1924
  • Nuremberg, Germany: concert
April 1924 In between his opera performance dates in Nuremburg, Melchior spends a week in Venice.  
27 April 1924
  • Nuremberg, Germany: Cavalleria Rusticana (DEBUT)/Pagliacci.
1 May 1924
  • Recital: Hofbräuhaushall, Coburg, Germany. For the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Songs and Arias.
14, 22 May 1924
  • Covent Garden: Die Walküre. Walter (1st)/Alwin (2nd). Melchior, Zec, Schorr, Ljungberg, Leider, Olszewska. 

Melchior makes his debut at Covent Garden-and his debut as Siegmund-in two productions of Die Walküre. This is the first London opera season to include German language singing and German performers since the outbreak of World War One and the years of readjustment after the end of that war. Bruno Walter is the conductor of the first Walküre, and Melchior's colleagues include sopranos Göta Ljungberg and Frida Leider (also making her London debut), contralto Maria Olszewska, baritone Friedrich Schorr and bass Nicola Zec. Karl Alwin conducts the second performance. There seems to have been some indication that Lotte Lehmann was going to portray Sieglinde at one or both of the Walküre peformances, including advertising to that effect, however the scheduling of her performances in Rosenkavalier probably prevented her from appearing as Sieglinde.

Times, May 15: "Melchior's Siegmund was uneven; the story of his life was made rather unintelligible by hurry, the duet with Sieglinde was good singing, the pathetic scene with Brünnhilde he seemed not to be altogether sure of, and he conceived the wrong tempo for the sword song, though he was not allowed to adopt it" (p. 12).

The Scotsman: "We had a new Siegmund in Lauritz Melchior, a Danish artist, who has often sung on our concert platforms. He has a fine dramatic sense, and was particularly good in the first act." (p. 7). [also reviewing the May 14 perfomance]

31 May 1924
  • Concert: Coburg, Germany. Melchior gives a concert for the former Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria [House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha], a Wagnerianer who will also attend the upcoming 1924 Bayreuth festival. [This may have been a private concert]
June 1924-Melchior may be in Berlin for more pre-Bayreuth coaching with Ernst Grenzebach. He may also be in Munich, perhaps for more study with Bahr-Mildenburg. In Munich, he invites a young woman from Mühldorf-am-Inn, Bavaria, Maria Hacker, to attend his upcoming debut at Bayreuth, accompanied by her parents, post office inspector Karl Hacker and Maria (Huber) Hacker. They will be married within a year's time.  

 

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Last Updated October 14, 2005