Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Marian Anderson – Beyond the Music

Marian Anderson, 1945

This summer Sony Masterworks released “Marian Anderson – Beyond the Music,” a special 15-CD edition celebrating contralto Marian Anderson, the first Black singer at the Met who sang for presidents and kings, and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A review in the New Yorker is titled “Marian Anderson’s Bone-Chilling Rendition of “Crucifixion”. Her performances of the Black spiritual in the nineteen-thirties caused American and European audiences to fall silent in awe.” And in Karsh’s reminiscences, he wrote: “What struck me most…when I photographed her at her home in Connecticut in 1945, was her simplicity and peacefulness. None of my early shots satisfied me in the least. All of them, I felt, has missed the intangible target. I began to despair. Then, towards the conclusion of the sitting, Miss Anderson’s accompanist came in for a rehearsal. This seemed to be my chance. I asked him, in a whisper, to play very softly the accompaniment to “Crucifixion”, one of the singer’s favourite compositions. Unaware of my innocent little plot, she began to hum to herself. Hurriedly, I snapped the camera. When I developed and printed the film I felt like it contained what I had seen with my own eyes. This is the portrait of a harmonious soul revealing itself unconsciously in song.” Learn more about the CD set.