Marian Anderson, a Singer's Journey: The First Comprehensive Biography

Allan Keiler, Author Scribner Book Company $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-684-80711-9
Drawing on newspaper articles, interviews with the singer and her family, personal papers and letters, and Anderson's 1956 autobiography (My Lord, What a Morning), Keiler, a professor of music at Brandeis, traces the extraordinary life of a gifted singer who became a national symbol. He writes of the racism Anderson encountered as an African-American in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, from the voice teachers in Philadelphia who refused to teach her to the Daughters of the American Revolution's now-legendary decision to bar her from singing at Constitution Hall. Amid such events, however, Keiler concentrates mainly on Anderson's musicianship and career, presenting a convincing picture of a singer who was more troubled by questions of interpretation in German lieder than by the segregation of concert facilities in the South. Keiler's analysis of Anderson's musical training, repertoire, choices of accompanists and publicists, touring schedules and other professional difficulties will be of interest to readers with musical backgrounds. His clear, succinct prose, initially lacking narrative coherence, gains strength and momentum as his subject matures from a young and struggling artist into one of the enduring voices of our century. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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