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Marian Anderson and Leonard Bernstein

@ National Portrait Gallery


Arturo Toscanini once said that Marian Anderson had a voice that came along "once in a hundred years." But because Anderson was black, her initial prospects as a concert singer in the United States were sharply limited, and her early triumphs took place mostly in European concert halls. Her successes abroad, however, made it difficult for the American musical establishment to ignore her, and when she began touring the United States in 1935, audiences quickly embraced her as the greatest contralto alive. By the time Anderson retired in the mid-1960s, she was regarded as one of the nation's great cultural treasures. Anderson is seen here performing with conductor Leonard Bernstein at a concert in Philadelphia in 1947. In response to the thunderous ovation for her performance, she ended up singing five more pieces as an encore.
Gelatin Silver Print
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National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Institution