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Marcella Sembrich sings Chopin - Maiden's Wish, ca 1900

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Uploaded on Mar 1, 2010

Today, is the 200th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF FRYDERYK CHOPIN (born in Zelazowa Wola, Poland on 1st of March, 1810 - died on 17th Oct 1849 in Paris).

As my tribute to one of greatest composers in the history of mankind, let me quote words of Denis Dutton, a philosophy professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand: The myriad worlds of Chopin's music are like nothing else in art. Using 10 fingers on a keyboard, he could create imaginative and emotional works that were utterly distinct--from each other and from all other music. He proves that human passion can be at its most intense in the most economical and limited art forms. Even the tiniest of Chopin's works resonates across the universe.

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Marcella Sembrich (Marcelina Sembrich-Kochańska), soprano - Maiden's Wish (Życzenie) (Frederic Chopin), Sung in Polish with Piano, Acc. played by herself, Recorded by Victor, ca 1900

NOTE: MARCELLA SEMBRICH a great Polish soprano, born in 1858 as Marcelina Prakseda Kochańska at Wiśniewczyk, in then Podolia (Poland), now part of the Ukraine. She first studied violin and piano with her father, who was a strolling music teacher. Later, she entered the Lwów Conservatory and studied piano with her future husband, Wilhelm Stengel. She entered the Vienna Conservatory in Autumn 1875. It was only then that her remarkable voice was discovered. She studied piano with Julius Epstein, and voice with Viktor Rokitansky. After a year it was decided to give up study of the piano and fully devote the young student to voice lessons. She arrived in Milan in September 1876 to study with one of the best vocal teachers on the continent, Giovanni Battista Lamperti. She made her debut in opera at Athens as Elvira in Bellini's "I Puritani" on June 3, 1877. She not only sang "Puritani", but also "Lucia di Lammermoor", "Robert le Diable" and "La Sonnambula". It is a testament to her proper early training and intelligence that a 19-year-old soprano could learn so many roles in a foreign language so quickly! After her grand success in Athens she was to appear with the Vienna Opera, but due to pregnancy she broke the contract. During her pregnancy and after the birth of her first son, she had a long and frustrating search for an opera engagement, until she was hired as a guest at the Dresden Royal Opera House in September 1878, debuting as Lucia. Her success was immediate and she was dubbed the "Polish Patti." At that time she adopted her mothers maiden name, Sembrich, as her professional name.

In June 1880 she created a sensation at Covent Garden as Lucia in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor". She became a great favorite in the characters of Zerlina, "Don Giovanni"; Susanna, "The Marriage of Figaro"; Konstanze, "The Abduction from the Seraglio"; Lady Harriet/Martha, "Martha"; and, of course, Lucia. In 1883, Marcella Sembrich went to the United States to sing in the newly founded Metropolitan Opera company. She made her Met debut as Lucia in the company premiere of "Lucia di Lammermoor" on October 24, 1883, she was also the Met's first Elvira in "I Puritani", Violetta in "La Traviata", Amina in "La Sonnambula", Gilda in "Rigoletto", Marguerite in "Les Huguenots" and Rosina in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia". Yet, due to the terrific financial loss of the company that year, Italian opera was abandoned and German opera reigned supreme at the Met for the next dozen years. Marcella returned to Europe and she was a tremendous favorite at the Italian Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 1890 to 1897.

Sembrich returned to the Met in 1898 and she sang more than 450 Met performances in her 11 seasons there. At the height of her career, the 1905-06 season, she was paid $1,000 for each of 45 performances. Her voice, a brilliant and flutelike soprano of marked sweetness and remarkable range, was accounted one of the greatest of the time. Sembrich remained associated with the company until 1909, when the silver jubilee of her Met debut was celebrated with a farewell gala. She gave recitals until 1917, the year of her beloved husbands death. After this date, she taught students from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and at the Juilliard School of Music. Her students included Alma Gluck, Hulda Lashanska, Dusolina Giannini, Maria Jeritza. She died on Jan, 11 in New York. .

She was a great Polish patriot throughout her life. During World War One she was President of the "American-Polish Relief Committee" of New York. She was wholly devoted to raising money, food stuffs and clothes for her suffering homeland. The Kosciuszko Foundation, Inc., an American Center for Polish Culture in New York City, annually holds the "Marcella Sembrich Voice Competition".

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