Johanna Maria Lind (October 6 1820 – November 2, 1887), better known as Jenny Lind, was a Swedish opera singer, often known as the "Swedish Nightingale". She is known for her performances in soprano roles in Sweden and Europe, as well as for an extraordinarily popular tour of America beginning in 1850, and for her philanthropic work.
Lind's mother, Anne Marie, ran a day school for girls out of her home. Lind was noted for her singing voice from a very young age. When she was about nine years old, her singing was overheard by the maid of Mademoiselle Lundberg, the principal dancer at the Royal Swedish Opera. The maid, astounded by Lind's extraordinary voice, returned the next day with the ballet dancer, who arranged an audition and who helped her get accepted at the Royal Theater School, where she studied with Karl Magnus Craelius, the singing master at the Royal Theater. She also studied drama at Dramatens elevskola under Karolina Bock, though her dramatic career was never to be as great as her singing career.
Lind began to sing on stage when she was ten, and by the age of 17 she was a favorite in the Royal Swedish Opera. At age 20 she was a member of the Swedish Royal Academy and court singer to the King of Sweden and Norway. Her first great role was Agathe, in Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz in 1838 at the Swedish Royal Opera. She was received throughout Europe with tremendous acclaim, but she suffered from stage fright throughout her career. She studied French and Italian opera in 1841-42 with Manuel del Pópulo Vicente García in Paris, undoubtably extending her talents, but her time was lonely there.
Lind had many male suitors for her romantic or musical affections before marrying Otto Goldschmidt in 1852. Some of these romantic affections were not mutual on the part of Lind. She was 31 at the time of her first and only known marriage. Among Lind's earlier known suitors of any nature beside Goldschmidt were: Von Schneidau, Andersen, Mendelssohn and Chopin. Von Schneidau was a Swedish friend of Lind and later become known as the first American photographer of Lind in 1850.
Lind toured Denmark where, in 1843, Hans Christian Andersen met and fell in love with the singer, but while the two became good friends, she had no romantic feelings for him. Three of his fairy tales were inspired by her: "The Ugly Duckling," "The Angel," and "The Nightingale", the latter making her known as The Swedish Nightingale. She then performed widely in Germany, especially with Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig. Lind did have feelings for the composer, but he was married. She then performed in Vienna. She remained a good friend of the Mendelssohn and Schumann families.
Lind traveled to London in 1847, where her first performance, in the presence of Queen Victoria at Her Majesty's Theatre on 4 May, was in the role of Alice in Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera Robert le diable. In July the same year, she took part in the world première of Giuseppe Verdi's opera I masnadieri at the theatre. Her successes extended to her regional tour of Britain and Ireland as well as to her performances at the Continent, and she became extremely popular and wealthy. Lind became also known for her philanthropy of cultural and humanitarian causes, which continued for many years. - In January 1849, she performed in a concert in Norwich, organised by the Norwich Choral Society. She stayed with the Bishop of Norwich whom she credited with developing her charitable purpose. She liked the city so much that she gave two free concerts a month later; which raised £1,253 for charitable purposes. The money raised was used to buy a house in Pottergate, Norwich (which was converted and opened as the 20-bed Jenny Lind Infirmary for Sick Children, on 3 April 1854).
Having left Paris, Lind became in the winter of 1849-1850 a member of the student fraternity Burschenschaft Hannovera in Goettingen, Germany. She was the only female member in a classical German fraternity. Her membership in the fraternity earned her the name "Little Lady Jenny" among the appreciative male members of the organization.
As a result of her triumphal tour of the United States, Cuba and Canada in 1850-1852, Lind earned a considerable fortune due to her association with the U.S. showman P.T. Barnum. Following a new tour of Europe after her return from America, Lind paid tribute in many different ways to Chopin's music and his musical legacy.
Lind's contract called for the total fee to be deposited in advance with the London banking house of Baring Brothers. Barnum had not anticipated front-end payments for Lind, since he always had paid performers as performances were completed. To raise the money, Barnum sought loans from New York bankers, who refused to make the loans based on a percentage of the Lind tour, so Barnum mortgaged all his commercial and residential properties. Still a bit short, Barnum finally persuaded a Philadelphia minister, who thought that Lind would be a good influence on American morals, to lend him the final $5,000. Barnum sent the $187,500 to London.
Few Americans had ever heard of Lind, and Barnum's first press release set the tone of the promotion. "A visit from such a woman who regards her artistic powers as a gift from Heaven and who helps the afflicted and distressed will be a blessing to America." Her biographical pamphlet and photograph proclaimed: "It is her intrinsic worth of heart and delicacy of mind that produces Jenny's vocal potency." Barnum heavily promoted her record of giving frequent benefit concerts for hospitals and orphanages. Before Lind had even left England, Barnum had made her a household name in America. In August 1850, before Lind left England, Barnum arranged for her to give two farewell concerts in Liverpool. A critic engaged by Barnum to cover the concert wrote of the enthusiasm of the Liverpool audience and its grief at Lind's imminent departure. This review was widely circulated in English, European and American newspapers a week before Lind arrived in New York on September 1 1850. Over 40,000 people greeted her arrival, trying to get a glimpse of the star.
Barnum and Lind renegotiated their contract on September 3 1850, giving Lind the original $1,000 per concert agreed to, plus the remainder of each concert's profits after Barnum's $5,500 concert management fee was paid. Lind was represented by her lawyer John Jay. Lind gave 93 concerts in America for Barnum, earning over $250,000, while Barnum netted at least $500,000. Lind gave the majority of her U.S. concert earnings to charities, including $1,000 to help build a church in Chicago.
Lind's first two American performances were given as charity concerts in New York City on September 11 and 13, 1850 at the Castle Garden Theater, now better known as Castle Clinton, with thousands attending and collecting an astonishing $10,141 and $14,200. The first "Regular Concert" was given on September 17, 1850.
In September 1850, Lind gave $5,000 to her Swedish friend, Poly Von Schneidau, to purchase a new camera for his Chicago studio -- a camera later used to create one of the earliest images of Abraham Lincoln. On 1September 14 1850, Von Schneidau took the first American daguerrotype of Lind at the New York Brady Studio. 1 2 His photo of Lind is in the Library of Congress Collection (Call Number DAG 509X).
In Washington, DC during the 1850 tour, Lind was the first performer in the newly renovated National Theater. The "New National Hall" was enlarged to seat 3,400 people for her arrival. The entire police force was called out to keep order in the crowd clamoring for tickets. Congress was adjourned, and the Supreme Court justices attended.
Although she ceased her professional singing career with her return to Europe, Lind continued to perform in a number of oratorios, concerts, and choruses, with a particular interest in Bach. She lived first in Dresden, Germany, and then in England for the remainder of her life, where she became a philanthropist, and for some years, a professor of singing at the Royal College of Music. Her last public performance was at Düsseldorf on January 20 1870, where she sang in "Ruth", an oratorio composed by her husband.
Lind died on November 2 1887 in Malvern, Worcestershire from cancer. Lind lived her last years at Wynd's Point, behind the Little Malvern Priory, and was buried in the Great Malvern Cemetery to the music of Chopin's Funeral March. She bequeathed a considerable part of her wealth to help poor Protestant students in Sweden receive an education.
In Britain, when the Pottergate infirmary was closed in 1898, a new Jenny Lind Infirmary for Sick Children was built in Unthank Road, which opened in 1900. The Infirmary closed in 1975, with the children's services transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, St Stephen's Road where, in 1982 a wing of the hospital was named the Jenny Lind Children's Department. When the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was established in 2001, the Jenny Lind Children's Department moved with it, where it remains today. A children's park in Rupert Street, Norwich is also named after her.
Under the name "Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt", she is commemorated in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London. Among the "eminent guests" at the unveiling ceremony on 20 April 1894 was Sir Charles Halle, one of Chopin's close friends from Paris. There is also a plaque commemorating Lind in The Boltons, Kensington, London.
The Jenny Lind archive is at North Park College in Chicago.
Many objects have been named for Lind as well, including the Jenny Lind locomotive, Jenny Lind street in Mckeesport, Pa., Jenny Lind Island in Canada and the gold-rush town of Jenny Lind, California (despite the fact that she only performed on the East Coast while in the United States). During her visit to America, she was reported to have slept in a bed with turned spindles, leading to the naming of a bed or crib with vertical bars on all sides as a "Jenny Lind cot" (or crib or cradle). There are also streets named after Lind, like "Jenny Lind St." in North Easton, Massachusetts.
Many artistic works have honored or featured Lind. Anton Wallerstein composed the "Jenny Lind's Lieblings-Polka" in 1845. In the 1930 Hollywood film A Lady's Morals, Grace Moore starred as Lind, and Wallace Beery appeared as P.T. Barnum. In 1941 Ilse Werner starred as Lind in the German-language film Schwedische Nachtigall, with Joachim Gottschalk as Hans Christian Andersen. In 2001, a semi-biographical film about Hans Christian Andersen featured actress Flora Montgomery portraying Lind. In January 2005, Elvis Costello announced that he was writing an opera about her, called The Secret Arias. It includes songs by Hans Christian Andersen, who had fallen in love with Lind.