Cover image for Nicolai Gedda : my life & art
Nicolai Gedda : my life & art
Gedda, Nicolai.
Personal Author:
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Gåvan är inte gratis. English
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Amadeus Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
242 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


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ML420.G385 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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(Amadeus). This autobiography is the first full-length book in English on Nicolai Gedda, born in Sweden in 1925 but deeply influenced by his Russian-born stepfather, himself a singer with a renowned Russian emigre choir. A leading tenor throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Gedda is acclaimed both for the beauty of his voice and the rare intelligence with which he uses it; he is perhaps the most versatile of tenors, equally at home in opera and song, and the master of nine languages and a wide range of musical styles. These memoirs, written in collaboration with his wife, comment frankly on the events of his life and on the international music scene, revealing both his serious devotion to his art and his indifference to fame and celebrity. HARDCOVER.

Author Notes

Nicolai Gedda was born Harry Gustaf Nikolai Gädda in Stockholm, Sweden on July 11, 1925. After finishing high school, he took a job as a bank clerk in Stockholm and earned extra money as a wedding singer. Through a customer at the bank, he was introduced to the tenor Carl Martin Ohman. He began taking lessons with Ohman and later studied at what is now the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Gedda made his operatic debut at the age of 26 as the coachman Chapelou in Adolphe Adam's Le Postillon de Lonjumeau with the Royal Swedish Opera. He sang 367 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, from his debut in the title role of Gounod's Faust in 1957 to his final performance, as Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata, in 1983. One of his most famous roles was as Lensky, the young poet in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. His memoir, Nicolai Gedda: My Life and Art, was co-written with his third wife Aino Sellermark Gedda. He died after a heart attack on January 8, 2016 at the age of 91.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Gedda, the lyric tenor raised by Russians in Leipzig and Stockholm, bares his soul in this collection of philosophizing, reflection, and commentary. Born illegitimately to poor people, he was raised by an aunt who was poor herself. His uncle, who directed a choir, cultivated his natural ability. Under the watchful eyes of these overprotective but loving parents, he grew up to be a shy person. Nevertheless, he scrupulously controlled his career, never overextending himself. He debuted at the Stockholm Opera in 1952 and, at 72, sang his last stage role in 1997. Calling the Metropolitan Opera his home, he sang in major European houses, too. Never an actor, he brought out the emotions of his roles through impeccable vocal control. He dwells on his parents and two failed marriages, expressing a personal philosophy anchored in deep religious belief. Best read as though they were being related over tea and cakes in Gedda's Swiss garden, his memoirs offer some insight into one of the twentieth century's foremost concert and operatic singers. --Alan Hirsch

Table of Contents

Charles OsborneAino Sellermark Gedda
Forewordp. 7
Prefacep. 9
Chapter 1 Youthp. 11
Chapter 2 Stockholmp. 21
Chapter 3 My Parentsp. 33
Chapter 4 The Beginnings of a Musical Educationp. 44
Chapter 5 The Royal Academy of Music and the Opera Schoolp. 52
Chapter 6 From the Stockholm Opera to the World Stagep. 58
Chapter 7 Paris and an Unhappy Marriagep. 69
Chapter 8 The Metropolitan Operap. 75
Chapter 9 A New Teacherp. 82
Chapter 10 Divas, Agents, and Producersp. 90
Chapter 11 The Singer as Artistp. 104
Chapter 12 Europep. 115
Chapter 13 Back Home in Swedenp. 126
Chapter 14 On Literature and Philosophyp. 134
Chapter 15 Grand Old Conductorsp. 142
Chapter 16 Accompanistsp. 150
Chapter 17 Roles and Preparationp. 154
Chapter 18 Saying Good-Bye to the Theaterp. 169
Chapter 19 Loss and Gainp. 181
Chapter 20 Peace and Happiness at La Chaumierep. 191
Chapter 21 Final Reflectionsp. 199
Opera, Oratorio, and Operetta Repertoirep. 203
Discographyp. 225
Index of Namesp. 239