The Jussi Bjorling Audio Archives contains more than 900 78 rpm, LP, cassette, reel-to-reel and CD recordings of the famed Swedish tenor. The collection came to the Chicago Public Library in 1996 from an anonymous donor.
Bjorling was born February 5, 1911, in Borlange, Sweden. In 1928 he entered the Royal Academy of Music and became the protege of John Forsell, eminent baritone and manager of the Stockholm Opera. In 1929 he made his first recordings as a tenor; thus, from age 18 he regularly made recordings for the next 32 years until his death in 1960.
Bjorling left a legacy of about 650 recordings. In addition to some 250 studio recordings (including 12 complete operas and the Verdi Requiem), there are about 400 live recordings of radio concerts, film recordings and complete opera broadcasts from European and American performances. A third of these were Swedish Radio broadcasts. More than 50 programs, including 11 Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, survived from these American radio series: General Motors Concerts, Telephone Hour, Voice of Firestone, Standard Hour and Ford Sunday Evening Hour. Many of these programs are available at Chicago Public Library.
Studio recordings are arranged by format and label numbers as listed in A Jussi Bjorling Phonography by Harald Henrysson. More than 75 labels from Sweden to South Africa, from Australia to North and South America, are represented. Most of the original 78s have been reissued on LP and CD, nearly all of which are in the collection.
The reel-to-reel tapes include live performances of complete operas that Bjorling never recorded in the studio: Faust, Romeo et Juliette, Don Carlo, La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.
Also included are most of his performances on Voice of Firestone and Telephone Hour broadcasts as well as his performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy Show, Producers Showcase and the Symphonies Under The Stars at the Hollywood Bowl.
Among many items of documentary interest are the 1989 George Jellinek tribute to Bjorling (Tape 126), WFMT's First Fifty Years program "A New Look At Jussi Bjorling" with Marty Robinson (Tapes 130-133), and five interviews with Bjorling in English (Tape 109).