Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal

Lauritz Melchior Web





Photo Gallery


Selected Recordings

An Annotated Bibliography
of published materials by and about Lauritz Melchior


Current organization (subject to revision):

The majority of performance dates and reviews so far listed in the Performance Chronologies the author has culled from newspapers, and music journals, as well as published opera house annals and record company discographies. All translations into English (from Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German, French and Spanish) are the author's. Other sources for performance dates/information:

The Met Opera Database.

Óperas Colón de Buenos Aires.

San Francisco Opera Performance Archive.


Laird, Ross. (2001). Brunswick Records: a discography of recordings, 1916-1931. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

MacKenzie, Harry. (1996). Command Performance, USA!: a discography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Großman-Vendrey, Susanna. (1983). Bayreuth in Die Deutschen Press: Dockumentenband 3,2 (Paul Fiebig, Ed.). Regensburg: Gustaf Bosse Verlag.

A collection of selected reviews of the Bayreuth seasons between 1908-1944 from the leading German newspapers, such as Frankfurter Zeitung, Berliner Tagblatt, even Völkischer Beobachter.

Ainsworth, Ed. (1962, December 12). Melchior urges innovation here. Los Angeles Times. p. B8
Asklund, Gunnar. (1946, April). The little touch of God's finger: a conference with Lauritz Melchior. Etude Music Magazine, pp. 185-189
Barker, F.G. (1949). Stars of the opera. Petergate, York: Lotus Press, p. 21
Bell, Nelson B. (1947, February 22). Melchior says films are 'insinuating' good music into mass mind. Washington Post, p. 10.
Bender, William. (1963, April 28). Melchior plugs for government aid to opera. Los Angeles Times, p. L9.
Bernheimer, Martin. (1966, March 10). Wanted: vocal heroes for Rhine maidens. Los Angeles Times, p. D1.

"Brei." (1920, 4 November). Hjemme igen-og allerede udvé [Home again, and already leaving]. Politiken, p. 2.

Esterow, Milton. (1963, April 18). Lauritz Melchior will celebrate his 50 years in opera tonight. New York Times, p. 38.
Fellows, Myles. (1953, October). An American way of life in art? An interview with Lauritz Melchior. Etude Music Magazine, pp. 11, 47, 63.
Fitzgerald, Gerald. (1970, March 28). Speaking of Wagner. Opera News.

Foerster, Lilian. (1946, January 28). Lauritz Melchior and his roles. Opera News.
Guernsey, Otis L., Jr. (1946, April 6). The playbill: making noise for the Met. And Metro. New York Herald Tribune, p. 1-2.

Similar quotations attributed to Melchior re: US and art can be found in: Nugent, Frank. (1945, March 17). Great Dane. Liberty, p. 17-19,70.

Grevatt, Ren. (1959, March 9). Melchior asks State aid for U.S. longhair. Billboard, pp. 1, 42.
Hegermann-Lindencrone, Knud. (1939, September 24). Radioen har støttet operaen kolossalt. Berlingske Søndags Magasin, p. 3.

Hoffman, Catherine. (1937,
February 24). Baritone into Tenor. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, pp. F4, F8 

Jellinek, George. (1969, August). Stereo Review talks to Lauritz Melchior. Stereo Review.
Jerrild, Holger. (1936, October). Hos Kammersanger Lauritz Melchior. Gads danske magasin.
Lauritz Melchior gives plan for National opera in America. (1940, January 3). Christian Science Monitor, 5.
Loveday, Lilian Foerster. (1964, February 1). Melchior today. Opera News, p. 26

This article was also reproduced in the Washington International Art Letter as well as in the the National Arts and Cultural Development Act of 1963: Hearings Before the Special Subcommittee on Labor, Committee on Education and Labor, Congress, House of Representatives, 1964.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1932). Lauritz Melchior. In Firner, Walter, Ed. Wir von der oper: ein teater-bildbuch.  München: Verlag F. Bruckmann AG
In his contribution to this compilation of mini-essays by Germany's most prominent classical conductors, singers and composers, Melchior discusses his concerns about the future of opera, how the short life span of an opera singer's voice guides his career, and reveals his anxiety about the political and economic situation of his "nervous" era. We are not given the privilege of knowing what questions he was asked. There is also an article in an August 1931 issue of a German music periodical called Skizzen in which Melchior, Schorr, Furtwängler, Blech, Klemperer et al., are asked to comment on Wagner and the modern age.
Melchior, Lauritz. (1938, September). Expression. The American Magazine.
Melchior, Lauritz. (1939, January). Are tenors lousy lovers? Stage: The Magazine of After Dark Entertainment, pp. 16-17.
Melchior, Lauritz. (1939, January 8). [Speaker]. Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air. [Radio broadcast]

Melchior, Lauritz. (1941, April 27). Folk songs and music. Washington Post, p. B9.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1941). Wagnerian opera. Who's Who in Music, pp. 761-762.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1946, January-February). The blending of music in the American scene. Music Publishers Journal. pp.10-11, 62.
Melchior, Lauritz. (1950, November). Can your child sing? Parents, pp. 38, 99-104.
Melchior, Lauritz. (1952, September 26). A touch of God's finger. Hartford Courant, p. 14.

This is a transcript of Melchior's prepared statement for Edward R. Murrow's "This I Believe" radio series.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1958, April). I was loaded for bear. Outdoor Adventures.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1963). Die drei vaterlander. In Josef Müller-Marein & Hannes Reinhardt (Eds.), Das musikalische selbstportrait. Hamburg: Nannen-Verlag.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1963). [Introduction]. In Viktor Fuchs, The art of singing and voice technique. London: J. Calder.

Melchior, Lauritz. (1963, February). [Tribute to Flagstad]. Opera, p. 81.
Melchior, Lauritz. (1965). [Recollections of W. Furtwängler]. In Daniel Gillis (Ed), Furtwängler recalled. Zurich: Atlantis Verlag.

Melchior contributes to this compilation a less than worshipful tribute to the conductor, a good example of Melchior's ambivalent attitude towards conductors in general (Fritz Reiner seems to have been an exception).  Incidentally, Melchior's comment that Furtwängler conducted opera 'as if it were a symphony,' was the very reason critics called him the ideal conductor for Wagner.

Melchior, Lauritz. (Interviewee). (1993). 81st Birthday Interview, (1971). On Lauritz Melchior in concert 1944-1949 [CD]. UK: Eklipse Records.
Melchior urges U.S. to teach more music, less 'crooning.' (1946, October 7). Christian Science Monitor, 3.
Mephisto's Musings. (1966, March). High Fidelity, p. 119-120.
People. (1960, March 7). Time Magazine, p. 36.
Rasponi, Lanfranco. (1941, March 31). Tristan and Tannhäuser turn to the grail. Opera News, pp.15-16.
Taubman, Howard. (1946, February 18). Melchior is hailed on 20th year here. New York Times, p 21.

"At the end he made a graceful little curtain speech in which he pleaded for a helping hand for young American artists in a time when a ravaged world looks to the United States for leadership in opera." (A typical comment of the era)

Wessling, Berndt W. (1969). Lotte Lehmann...mehr als ein Sangerin [Lotte Lehmann...more than a singer]. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag

As indicated by the book's title, a tribute to Lehmann. Wessling quotes Melchior on Lehmann, on "New Bayreuth," and quotes Lehmann on Melchior.

 Wolff, S. J. (1946, February 17). Alias Tristan, Lohengrin, and Siegfried. The New York Times, pp. 22, 94.

Berle, Milton. (2002). Milton Berle, an autobiography. New York: Applause, pp. 282-283.

In his 1974 memoir (reprinted in 2002), Berle remembers the accident that occurred during Melchior's 1948 first appearance on his show (which was likely Melchior's TV debut), using it to illustrate the perils inherent in early live television performances.  

Biancolli, Louis. (1952). The Flagstad Manuscript. New York: Putnam.

This is the memoir of Kirsten Flagstad.

Drake, James & Tempesta, Joseph . (1976, March). An interview with Alexander Kipnis. High Fidelity, p. 64-69.

See also: interview with Alexander Kipnis in Haggin, B.H. (1967). The Toscanini Musicians Knew. New York: Horizon Press p. 59-72.

Ewan, David. (1939). Men and women who make music. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Gatti-Casazza, Giulio. (1941). Memories of the opera. New York. C. Scribner's Sons.

Gaisberg, F.W. (1947). Music on record. London: Robert Hale Ltd.

Geissmar, Berta. (1975). Two worlds of music. New York: Da Capo Press. [Reprint of 1946 ed.]

Gilman, Lawrence. (1937).Wagner’s Operas. New York: Farrar & Rinehart.

Graf, Herbert. (1951). Opera for the People. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.

The Met's stage director sets forth his ideas on how to make democratized opera an essential part of American culture. The goal was shared by many of the WWII-era exiles from Europe, including Lauritz Melchior. Another immigrant, movie producer Joe Pasternak, was also of like mind, but in this book, Graf recalls his frustrations designing Melchior's Otello production number for the Pasternak-produced film This Time for Keeps.

Hines, Jerome. (1997). The four voices of man. New York: Limelight, p. 67.
Lawrence, Marjorie. (1949). Interrupted Melody. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Lehmann, Lotte (1938). Midway in my song. (Margaret Ludwig, Trans.). New York: Bobbs-Merrill.

----------------- (1948). My Many Lives.  (Frances Holden, Trans.). New York: Boosey & Hawkes.

Lotte Lehmann was a colleague of Melchior's since his earliest days as singing. Lehmann is especially enthusiastic about his portrayal of Siegmund. In a later interview, Lehmann singled out Melchior's rare Florestan (the two performed in Fidelio together a total of once) for praise [add citation].

Larsen, Hanna Astrup. (1935, June). Three Wagner singers: Lauritz Melchior, Kirsten Flagstad, Karin Branzell. American Scandinavian Review.

This is a semi-critical article by a woman Wagnerite and longtime attendee of Wagner performances at the Met. Written at the end of Flagstad's first season at the Met, Ms. Larsen pays balanced tribute to the Dane, Norwegian, and Swede. Her goal is promotional, to interest readers in attending performances at the Depression-era Met. The opera house had seen its opera season cut almost in half between 1929 and 1934, and many singers leave due to salary cuts. Ms. Larsen relates her favorite aspects of Melchior's Siegmund, Siegfried, Tristan and Tannhäuser.

Leider, Frida. (1966). Playing my part (Charles Osborne, Trans.). New York: Meredith Press. (Original work published 1959)

Leider, who first worked with Melchior in 1923, was his frequent colleague for over 15 years, in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, as well as a friend. See also: Leider, Frida. (1963). Ein Prußische Isolde. In Josef Müller-Marein & Hannes Reinhardt (Eds.), Das musikalische selbstportrait. Hamburg: Nannen-Verlag, p. 98-106.

Leinsdorf, Erich. (1976). Cadenza: a musical career. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
-----------------. (1997). Erich Leinsdorf on music. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press.

Leinsdorf and Melchior had a sometimes antagonistic working relationship during Leinsdorf's years (late 1930s and early 1940s) as the conductor of Wagner performances at the Met.

Lewis, Grace Hegger. (1955). With love from Gracie: Sinclair Lewis, 1912-1925. New York: Harcourt, Brace
McArthur, Edwin. (1965). Flagstad: a personal memoir. New York: A. A. Knopf.

First Flagstad's personal accompanist during the prewar years, eventually the conductor of many of Flagstad's opera performances with Melchior, and a number of Melchior's studio recordings, including all four with Flagstad. He airs his hostility to Melchior in this memoir of Flagstad, published after the Norwegian soprano's death.

McGovern, Dennis, and Deborah Grace Winer. (1990). I Remember too much. New York: Morrow.

Includes an interview with American contralto/soprano Rose Bampton, who worked with Melchior frequently in the 1940s.

Merrill, Robert. (1976). Between acts: an irreverent look at opera and other madness. New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 222-223.

American baritone Merrill, a member of the Met's company since the 1940s, performed in a few concerts with Melchior during the early 1950's. Merrill relates an incident that happened at one of these encounters.

Moore, Jerrold N. (1976). A Voice in Time: The Gramophone of Fred Gaisberg. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.

O'Connell, Charles. (1947). The other side of the record. New York: A. A. Knopf.

Until stepping down in 1944, O'Connell was the director of RCA Victor Records. He was also a conductor who worked with Melchior. In this widely read book, O'Connell makes his antipathy to a number of the famous singers who made records at RCA, including Melchior, heard.

Pasternak, Joe. (1956). Easy the hard way. London: W. H. Allen.

Powell, Jane. (1988). The girl next door and how she grew. New York: Morrow.

Powell was the star of Melchior's 1948 film Luxury Liner; here she recalls Mr. and Mrs. Melchior. Powell and Kathryn Grayson are also quoted discussing Melchior in an August 1, 2002 Opera News article, "The Lost Metro Girls," by Brian Hellow.

Rasponi, Lanfranco. (1980, April 5). Germaine Lubin. Opera News

This is an interview with the leading French dramatic soprano of the 1930s, who performed a large variety of roles opposite Melchior on numerous occasions during the 1930s at the Paris Opéra and also at Covent Garden.

Schmitt-Walter, Karl. (1963). Zwei Vorbilder: Schlusnus and Melchior. In Josef Müller-Marein & Hannes Reinhardt (Eds.), Das musikalische selbstportrait. Hamburg: Nannen-Verlag, p. 98-106.

Traubel, Helen. (1959). St. Louis woman. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce.

Varnay, Astrid. (2000). Fifty-five years in five acts: my life in opera. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Varnay, who made her stage debut at the Met opposite Melchior's Siegmund in 1941, often shared that stage with him thereafter, as well as, on one or two occasions, the concert hall and recording studio. To say that she liked working with Melchior and admired him would be an understatement, if her memories related in this book are any indication. See also Wessling's 1965 biography of Varnay.

Watts, Marjorie. (1971). PEN: the early years 1921-1926. London: Archive Press, p. 6

----------------- (1984, October 14). Melchior became my hero. Observer (London). [Letter to the Editor].

The daughter of the founder of International PEN (Catherine Amy Dawson-Scott) recalls meeting Melchior while he was in London in 1919-1920, looking for patronage, and also how Melchior sang at some PEN club functions in England during the first years of the 1920s. The letter to the editor of the Observer is juxtaposed with another very brief letter from the son of Hamburg Staatsoper conductor Egon Pollak regarding Melchior's years with the Hamburg Staatsoper.

Wessling, Berndt W. (1965). Astrid Varnay. Bremen: Carl Schünemann Verlag.

Williams, Esther. (1999). The million-dollar mermaid. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Melchior made two films with Williams in the mid-1940's, Thrill of a Romance and This Time for Keeps, both of which were big box-office hits. Williams remembers him with fondness.

Wood, Sir Henry J. (1971). My Life of Music. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries (Reprint of 1946 ed.), p. 311-312.

Nually, Jana. (1969). Lauritz Melchior. København: Steen Hasselbalchs Forlag.

Ms. Nually's 223 page biography published in Danish in 1969 does not indicate its source(s). It appears to be a compilation of autobiographical anecdota from Melchior converted from first into third person, fleshed out with publicity stories and (unsourced) quotations from previously published books. It includes a number of photographs with family, colleagues, and in costume.


Arnosi, Eduardo. (1994). Lauritz Melchior: El Coloso Wagneriano. Buenos Aires: Torres Agüero Editor.

Described by the author, an Argentinean opera critic, as "not a biography," Arnosi offers instead personal critiques of Melchior's studio recordings, and also evaluates Melchior's interpretations of each of his tenor roles (including the ones recording companies did not record like Florestan and John of Leyden). There is an extensive chronology of Melchior's opera performances. This biography, like the one below, was produced with the cooperation by Melchior's two children. There is a large number of photographs, mostly of Melchior in costume; unfortunately they are poorly reproduced.

Emmons, Shirlee. (1990). Tristanissimo: The Authorized Biography of Lauritz Melchior. New York: Schirmer.

A teacher of singing, Emmons had been one of the performers participating in the earliest months of Melchior's nightclub act. In content her book very closely follows Nually. Notable additions come from extensive interviews with Melchior's son and daughter. Illustrations include photographs of Melchior in costume for each of his tenor roles as well as a discography (the latter by Hans Hansen). The discography is discussed in the discography section below. Quotations from this book, and additional photographs appear in a 1993 tourist pamphlet, "Lauritz Melchior und sein Chossewitz" that Karl J. Beutel prepared for visitors to Lauritz Melchior's 1930s German summer vacation home, Chossewitz, which is now an inn.

Melchior, Ib. (2003).  Lauritz Melchior: The Golden Years of Bayreuth. Fort Worth, TX: Baskerville.

With text largely akin to Emmons/Nually, this book from Ib Melchior is foremost a collection of photographs. Most of the photos are publicity photographs of Melchior and his colleagues at Bayreuth, 1923-1931, some in costume, but the majority posed outdoors on the grounds outside the Festspielhaus.

Attention, discographers! There is no discography covering Lauritz Melchior's studio recordings that can lay claim to complete coverage (all unpublished recordings from a recording session) or to complete accuracy (where/when all recordings was made-the correct city and/or studio, month and/or year and/or day). Some discographies also attempt to catalogue reissues. Given the nature of modern technology, keeping up to date about what tapings of live broadcasts survive and where and how they are available may be more trouble than it is worth. The following discographies come closest to comprehensiveness.

Hansen, Hans. (1972). Lauritz Melchior: a Discography. Copenhagen: Nationaldiskoteket. 2nd rev. ed.

                An earlier version of the following:

Hansen, Hans. (1972). [Discography] In Emmons, Shirlee. (1990). Tristanissimo: The Authorized Biography of Lauritz Melchior. New York: Schirmer.

Covers published studio recordings, some unpublished studio recordings; and vinyl reissues of studio recordings. Coverage is more complete/accurate for some labels than others; in at least some cases, this state of affairs cannot be attributed to lack of extant record company information.

Heckner, Andreas. (1995). Lauritz Melchior: die kommentierte diskographie des Wagner-Heldentenors. Bayreuth: Deutsche-Richard-Wagner-Geßellshaft. 376p.

Not, as its title would imply, an annotated discography: a discography, a biographical timeline with critics' commentary (contemporaneous and after-the-fact; drawn from secondary sources); and a tentative inquiry into some matters that concern Mr. Heckner (why Melchior did not return to the Winifred Wagner-run Bayreuth after 1931, why Melchior does not appear to have been friends with W. Furtwängler). The discography is concerned solely with Wagner; it is organized by role and date. The discography includes tapings of live performances on CD. Index of live and studio recording partners. A list of Bayreuth stagings in which Melchior participated, does not denote the specific dates of Melchior's involvement. There is a list of Melchior's performances at Covent Garden and Metropolitan, with stage, chorus directors, managers, designers. The bibliography is particularly rich in discographies and liner notes. 

Information to share? Questions? Suggestions? Write me at using Melchior's name in the subject line of the email
Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007 Victoria Boutilier, All Rights Reserved
Last Updated April 13, 2007