Ernestine Schumann Heink

Ernestine Schumann Heink: Vocals

Genre: Classical, Covers | Standards

RIYL: Sara Mingardo, Sigrid Onégin, Ewa Podleś, Marie Powers, Belle Cole, Kate Condon, Clorinda Corradi, Kathleen Ferrier, Maureen Forrester, Louise Homer, Gisela Litz, Sonia Prina, Geltrude Righetti, Anastasia Robinson

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Influences: Marietta Alboni, Clorinda Corradi, Marian Anderson, Antonia Merighi, Marianne Brandt, Adelaide Malanotte, Rosmunda Pisaroni


Ernestine Schumann Heink (1861-1936), born in Prague, also sang with Caruso and was considered a virtuoso contralto (lowest pitched female voice) singer. The contralto voice in opera and classical music has a range which typically lies between the F below middle C (F3) to two Fs above middle C (F5).

She was best known for American performances of "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night" by Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber) and Brahms' "Wiegenlied" which popularized those songs in the States.

Up until the year of her death, she performed in concerts, operas, and on vaudeville stages as well as releasing several albums for Victor Records and appearing in one movie, 1935's Here's to Romance. While touring California in January 1910, she paid $20,000 for 500 acres of land in Grossmont and El Cajon, building a house on one of the Grossmont lots.

At the 1915 San Diego Panama-California Exposition, she performed for over 27,000 people at the Balboa Park Organ Pavilion. When the Exposition closed at midnight, January 1, 1917, she sang "Auld Lang Syne" for the crowd. On Christmas Eve 1918, she performed dual shows at San Diego City Plaza and at Camp Kearny; both audiences wore face masks due to an influenza outbreak. In 1922, she bought a three-story, gray stucco mansion in Coronado from John D. Spreckels.

She died of leukemia and is buried at Greenwood Memorial Park on Imperial Avenue (Cathedral Mausoleum, Corridor Of Sunshine). Her son Ferdinand Schumann-Heink, an actor who appeared in around 65 films, including Hell's Angels and Blonde Venus, is buried next to her.


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