This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for October 6, 2017: After the Opera

October 6, 2017: birthday: Jenny Lind

It’s the birthday of soprano Jenny Lind, born in Stockholm, Sweden (1820). She is considered to be one of the most gifted sopranos ever. In 1840, she was appointed member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and official singer of the Swedish Court. She was known also as a great philanthropist.

Hans Christian Andersen fell in love with her, but she did not return his love. Among other stories, he wrote “The Nightingale” (1843) as a tribute to Jenny Lind. He said, “[S]he can never be mine … though her voice stays with me, forever, in my story.” Lind would later be known as “The Swedish Nightingale.”

In 1848 she spent a lot of time in London with Chopin, who wrote about Lind in letters to his family and friends. He wrote, “Yesterday I was at a dinner with J. Lind, who afterwards sang me Swedish things till midnight.” She came to Paris the next year to marry Chopin, but fled Paris a month later to get away from a cholera epidemic and political unrest. She wrote in a letter to a friend: “Things and experiences approached me which deeply affected my peace of mind … I was very near to marrying. But again it came to nothing.”

On October 11, 2003, “Nightingale Opus 24” premiered in Belgium. In this drama, the narrator introduces each act with original quotes from Chopin’s letters and quotes from the Nightingale story. It’s the story of the musical encounters of Chopin and Jenny Lind.

After parting with Chopin, Jenny Lind no longer performed in operas, only in concerts. She toured the U.S. for a few years, where she raised money for charity and married Otto Goldschmidt, her pianist. They settled in England, where she died in 1887. Her memorial is at Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey in London, near that of Handel, and William Shakespeare.