Romanian tenor Joseph Schmidt (1904-42)was one of the vocal wonders of the last century. He had the most complete technique of any tenor in the recorded age. He could do anything, runs, trills, molten beauty and legato – all were his. All he lacked were height and luck. His sad story is well known and has appeared here earlier.
The multilingual singer recorded in German, Italian, Neapolitan, French, Spanish, Aramaic, and English – it’s the latter language I’ll focus on. His recordings during the 1930s were very popular and many of the songs associated with him were recorded several times, but in different languages. I’ll Sing a Song of Love to You originally appeared in Schmidt’s 1936 movie A Star Fell From Heaven. The title song (A Star Falls From Heaven ) from that film was the so widely associated with Schmidt that it appears on his headstone in the Zürich cemetery where he’s buried.
Just thinking about the events that lead to his premature demise is enough to induce lethal depression. So I’ll let you hunt down the facts on your own. A cure for this sort of melancholy is Schmidt’s singing I Am Happy When It’s Raining which is also from the 1936 film.
Schmidt’s first vocal training was as a Cantor. So in keeping with the season here is Schmidt’s amazing singing of the Aramaic prayer Ano Avdoh. His extraordinary technique, unique to my experience, places him at a vocal height above everyone else. He was a giant.