January 1, 1970

The Jussi Björling Appreciation Society In Crowle

By Angus Townley

The Jussi Björling Appreciation Society based in Crowle was formed in 1988 to foster and encourage the appreciation of all aspects of the life, career and recordings of the late Swedish tenor, Jussi Björling (1911-1960). It is affiliated with the Jussi Björling Society USA and has strong links with the Scandinavian Society in Sweden. It operates mainly by way of correspondence, an occasional newsletter and also by helping members to find the material they particularly want. All the JB societies are run on a voluntary basis.

The importance of this great singer may be judged by the following.
In July 1999 the magazine Classic CD adjudged the great Swedish tenor Jussi Björling (1911-1960) to be the number one singer of the 20th Century. In the same year Björling came first in two separate polls held in the UK and the States to determine opera lovers’ favourite singer. And by a considerable margin! There is little doubt that the world famous recording of The Pearlfishers’ Duet he made with his great friend, the baritone Robert Merrill, has much to do with his popularity for, having heard this recording, many a lover of great singing has been encouraged to investigate more of Björling’s work and have thus been hooked for life.

Many attempts have been made by critics to describe Björling’s unique sound: ‘a voice to make angels weep’, ‘ a voice full of unshed tears’ are only two. The singer, Irene Dalis, expressed a more objective view; she described him as: ‘a singer’s singer, an artist’s artist and a legend in opera’. For apart from being always helpful and generous to his colleagues on or off the stage, many of them swore that they sang better when he was performing with them.

Possessed of an astonishing musical memory, Björling was also an excellent and intelligent musician with exceptional versatility and, rare in profession noted for inflated egos, was a genuinely modest man of simple humanity. All the more impressive when one reads the rave reviews he accumulated. In 1931 just out of his teens, his Copenhagen concert elicited these words: ‘he sings so your heart melts, with a voice fresh and strong, a glowing lyric tenor with the most beautiful timbre, with both softness and power …seldom has one heard such a beautiful voice – a brilliant tenor of masculine stability and fullness – and at the same time a delightful timbre with a unique, enchanting, northern-lights shimmer, which completely conquered the audience, bursting with applause … a more perfect voice than Jussi Björling’s does not exist. Nature has given him everything.

Not surprising, his recordings are as popular as ever especially since the record producing company, Naxos, have issued a continuing Björling series that includes some of his complete live opera performances. At bargain prices too!

More information about the Jussi Björling Appreciation Society may be obtained from the secretary, Eric Wimbles, who is happy to give ‘illustrated’ talks on behalf of other organisations.

His address is,
The Jussi Björling Appreciation Society,
58 Mill Road,
North Lincolnshire
DN17 4LN.

Telephone: 01724 710334 and e-mail: eric.wimbles@btinternet.com