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Marian Anderson: a singer's journey.

Keiler, Allan

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ISBN 10: 0252070674 / ISBN 13: 9780252070679
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Urbana-Champaign, IL:. University of Illinois Press, 2002. Paperback. 447pp. Condition : as new. Marian Anderson was a woman with two disparate voices. The first - a powerful, majestic contralto spanning four octaves - catapulted her from Philadelphia poverty to international fame. A second, softer voice emanated from her mere presence: an unwavering refrain of opportunity and accomplishment in the face of racial prejudice. Anderson was born in 1897 to parents who made the long journey north from Virginia to escape the clutches of Jim Crow. Her musical genius was apparent from an early age, but even tremendous community and familial support could not shield her from the blows of economic hardship and bigotry she encountered in her early performing days. Anderson first garnered major acclaim while studying in London and Berlin. Her breakthrough in America commenced when impresario Sol Hurok took her under his wing, and her broad repertoire included Bach and Handel, spirituals, German lieder, French melodies, and the art songs of Scandinavian, Russian, and Spanish composers. In 1955, she became the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Since she was more comfortable as artist than activist, Anderson's intense privacy and devotion to her work distanced her from direct roles in the civil rights movement, but she remained a symbol of possibility throughout her career. Famously, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution when the organization refused to let Anderson perform at Constitution Hall. Images of Anderson singing at the 1939 Easter concert, subsequently moved to the Lincoln Memorial, established her immediately as an icon in the struggle against discrimination. From meetings with Anderson before her death in 1993, as well as interviews, reviews, and early coverage in the black press, and personal diaries and letters, Allan Keiler has as Condition : as new copy. ISBN 9780252070679[KEYWORDS: MUSIC, MUSIK, Buchnummer des Verkäufers 25296

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Titel: Marian Anderson: a singer's journey.

Einband: Soft cover

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A biography of one of America's greatest singers and a seminal figure in the American civil rights movement uncovers the life of the first African American soloist at the Met.


Marian Anderson is often perceived more as a civil rights legend than a singer. In this first complete biography, Allan Keiler, a music professor at Brandeis University, gives his primary allegiance to Anderson the artist. In the first decades of the 20th century, a time when black classical musicians were rare, she rose from a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia to a level of supreme accomplishment. Although she came to be identified with spirituals, she resisted being pegged as a black singer and emphasized her mastery of the European art song.

Virtually all of Anderson's career took place on the concert stage; opera was even harder to break into. She was in her late 50s when she became the first black singer to appear at the Metropolitan Opera. In any period, though, opera would not have suited her personality. She preferred the intimate engagement she could achieve with a song and a single accompanist.

Anderson's most indelible moment came in 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused her the use of its segregated Constitution Hall in Washington. In response, her supporters organized a huge concert at the Lincoln Memorial, an emotional event that propelled her to iconic status. But Anderson was neither outspoken nor comfortable in the political limelight. After World War II, she was criticized for not refusing to perform in the segregated South. In the last decades of her long life (she died at 96, in 1993), she was revered as a symbol of humanitarianism and restrained dignity--a quality that made her seem remote to younger, more impatient generations.

Keiler is a methodical rather than inspired writer. His prose can be flat-footed, and his chronology is often murky. But he successfully evokes what made Anderson's singing unique: the "opulent" tone and the interpretive ability that cut to the heart of a varied repertoire embracing spirituals, folk songs, and pieces by Schubert, Brahms, Handel, Sibelius, Purcell, and de Falla. And his sympathetic portrait transforms her from a civics lesson into a woman of her time, one who believed the most valuable contribution she could make to a better world was to offer it her gift. --David Olivenbaum

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