Povla Frijsh


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(b Aerø, 3 Aug 1881; d Blue Hill, ME, 10 July 1960). Danish soprano. After studying with Ove Christensen she went to Paris at the age of 17 to work with Jean Périer and made her recital début there three years later. She toured with the Cortot-Thibaud-Casals trio, from whom she acknowledged learning much about phrasing and timing. She appeared in Paris in recital with Raoul Pugno and was chosen by Gustav Mahler to sing in his Second Symphony in Cologne (1910). She made her American début in New York in 1915 and gave annual recitals there until 1947. Frijsh's voice was distinctive in timbre and expressively used. Although she sang in opera only twice – in Paris (L᾽incoronazione di Poppea) and in Copenhagen (Peter Heise's Drot og marsk) – her sense of drama was extraordinary: she made a hair-raising experience of Franz Schubert's Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, yet could sing César Cui's La fontaine de Csarskoë-Zelo in the purest bel canto. She was always interested in new songs, encouraging composers such as Virgil Thomson, Randall Thompson, Samuel Barber and Rebecca Clarke by including their works in her programmes. She was the first to sing many of Francis Poulenc's songs in New York, and she gave the New York premières of Ernest Bloch's Poèmes d᾽automne and Charles Loeffler's Canticum fratris solis (1925). In her later years she was active as a teacher. Her complete recordings have been issued on CD.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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