Bispham, David

1898 ALS by the 1st US-born baritone to achieve international acclaim as an opera star

Price: $35.00

Description:
(1857-1921) Philadelphia-born baritone, graduated from Haverford College 1876. While having no formal musical training, he appeared in numerous musical performances in his childhood. While employed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Bispham spent his spare time singing with local clubs and at a Philadelphia Episcopal church choir. At 28 he went to Europe to study singing and in 1891 debuted as the Duc de Longueville in a London performance of Messager's "La Basoche". He was engaged by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to sing Beckmesser in "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" in June 1892. When Jean De Reszke fell ill during rehearsals and the production cancelled, the day of the cancellation Bispham was asked to substitute the next day as Kurwenal in "Tristan und Isolde" under Mahler's baton, his 1st Wagnerian role. His success brought a contract for Covent Garden, where he appeared primarily in Wagnerian roles, for all but 2 of the next 10 seasons. Bispham made his US debut at the Met in 1896, singing Beckmesser in "Die Meistersinger." He remained with the Met to 1903, singing mainly Wagnerian roles. He appeared in the US premieres of Paderewski's "Manru" and Ethel Smyth's "Der Wald". Bispham was influential in establishing the career of Carrie Jacobs -Bond; in 1901 he gave a recital exclusively of her songs in Chicago. After 1903 he devoted most of his time to recitals, with success, singing English versions of songs by such composers as Beethoven, Schumann and Schubert. In 1916 he appeared in a New York English-language version of Mozart's "Der Schauspielddirektor" which was such a success that it led to the formation of the Society of American Singers. The company, with Bispham's inspiration, gave 3 seasons of light opera in English. His commitment to opera in English also led, after his death, to the creation of the Bispham Memorial Medal awarded to operas in English by US composers. Damrosch's setting of Kipling's poem "Danny Deever", sung by Bispham, was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt. Bispham was the 1st to introduce Brahms's "Four Serious Songs" and "Magelone Lieder" to US audiences in the 1896-97 concert season. Brief 6 x 4 ALS to a young woman complying with request for his autograph, no place, January 10 1898.

Condition: Good, light horizontal fold, corners clipped, very slight blots from folding of letter, mount remnants at corners on verso.
Type:Letter






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