The Classical Music Man

“Do whatever you do intensely.”
Robert Henri

Singing

Happy Birthday, Nelson Ackerman Eddy!   Born on June 29, 1901, Nelson Eddy would single-handedly introduce millions of young people to classical music, inspiring many to follow a musical career.  What is remarkable about Nelson was his superstar appeal to both the devoted opera traditionalist and the wildly enthusiastic bobby-soxer generation.

Nelson’s story is about creating a destiny. Known for his pure baritone voice, he learned to sing in church and by listening to the recordings of famous baritones.  At fourteen, when his parents divorced, he lived with his mother in gentile poverty.  Nelson quit school to take on employment in various positions, including 10 years as a newspaper reporter.  His journalistic career came to an abrupt halt when he was fired for constantly singing on the job. It was a tipping point.  He was free to pursue his dream with an earnest determination.

Nelson’s singing career spanned four decades and, at his peak, became the highest paid singer in the world.  He earned three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and three Gold records.  He sang at the third inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the dark days of 1941. He is best known for his eight films with his magnificent co-star, Jeanette MacDonald.

“The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

20 thoughts on “The Classical Music Man

  1. Rebecca, At this time when I have been thinking so much of my grandparents, you make me weep with this post. My grandfather loved to sing and give recitals. My grandmother’s favourite singers were Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.

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    • We are thinking so much alike these days; it is truly synchronicity. Nelson and Jeanette were beloved by millions. Their music found a place in our hearts. Can you imagine – Nelson Eddy dressed as Canadian Mountie!!! He looked spectacular…

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    • He did, but not until he was older and had more money. He had to borrow money to follow his teacher to Europe. He was offered a job there, but decided to return to the US. He had a voice that everyone loved. To me, he greatest legacy was that young people fell in love with Opera….

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  2. The legacy you speak of lingers in my mind as you speak of my mother’s generation, long gone now, but I can still her, the young woman that she was then, humming along as she listened to Eddy and MacDonald sing the very song of your post. Thank you for that and nudging to mind fond old memories of very early childhood. You have a very special touch, and a gift for digging up beauty Lady Budd!

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    • I am so glad that you enjoyed my post! We grew up with Nelson Eddy – he was even a Canadian Mountie, much to the delight of all Canadians! Singing is a gift to humanity. Over the centuries, we have been singing, from the mountaintops to the river values. Singing is laughing with joy….

      Let’s keep singing! 🙂

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      • Yes I was aware of his history…great memories. Great bit about singing and joy.

        So many accomplishments by we humble Canadians, which happily suits our good American neighbours, for they can take credit for a lot of the things we have accomplished, and because we don’t like to brag they get away with it.

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      • You got it… I got a head start at the Montreal Jazz Festival, then signing to Marianne in the car on the way from home town of Montreal to our home in the townships. Then this morning signing in the shower, and if my voice doesn’t give out I’ll keep going. And a Happy Canada Day to you! JJ

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  3. My father, my wonderful father, loved them. His father was a cantor in England by profession, dirt poor, but the whole family sang (all 9 siblings). I grew up in a family that would break out in song with the trigger of a word. Singing in restaurants, along with movies, driving others nuts, but oh the memories. Feeling teary eyed nostalgia with this and teary beautiful post.

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    • Thank you so much, my dear friend!!! I confess that I shed a few tears when I was listening to the videos, especially Nelson Eddy’s interview the day that Jeanette MacDonald passed away. You have a wonderful family – singing brings a whole new dimension to family dynamics. I was reading that most people are finding that consumerism is not bringing happiness and that spending time together as a family increases the ability of all to participate within society. Just a few days ago, my brother said that as a family, they decided that my sister-in-law should go part-time at a job close to home rather than full-time with a commute. Everyone is celebrating – including the environment because she can walk to work!🙂

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    • Oh Cindy, I confess that I am a pack-rat! I love keeping little things like bags, cards, note paper. I could fill up a whole house, EXCEPT I live in a condo. This means that if I bring in anything new, I must take something out. My whole thinking process has changed: I am more organized, more thoughtful in my purchases and more innovative in my collecting. This is a photo of a fancy shopping bag. I have found that I would be able to collect photos, rather than stuff. Thanks for your encouraging comments!!!

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  4. I had to smile when someone mentioned that this great singer was a part of his parent’s generation. I am old enough to remember him. He was a great encouragement to young people. Hopefully we can learn that from him.

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