She has been called the "Star Spangled Singer" and "the Heifetz of singers." In 2002, after a career in which for over four decades MARILYN HORNE had dominated her field, Opera News said, "Marilyn Horne - whose face and song have been in the light - in so many places, in so many styles, through so many media, for so many years - may be the most influential singer in American history."
The 2003-2004 season marks several milestones for Marilyn Horne, including her 70th birthday on January 16th, 2004, the 50th anniversary of her operatic debut at the age of 20 with the Los Angeles Guild Opera, and the 10th Anniversary of both the Marilyn Horne Foundation and her position as chair of the voice department at the Music Academy of the West, of which she is an alumnus. Throughout all of these celebrations, she continues to be one of America's most beloved artists, and one of the busiest, with a full schedule of concerts, recitals and teaching activities.
As one of the world's most popular performers, Marilyn Horne has received numerous accolades and honors in the arts as well as academia. President Clinton named her a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995. In 1992, she received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bush and the Endowment for the Arts. Miss Horne sang at the Reagan, Bush and Clinton White Houses and at President Clinton's inauguration in 1993. In October of 2000, Miss Horne returned to the town of her birth, Bradford, Pennsylvania where a street on the public square was named in her honor. On that occasion, she also presented the opening season gala for the Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center, where she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Distinction from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
Among Marilyn Horne's many worldwide prizes are the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters from France's Ministry of Culture, the Commendatore al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, the Fidelio Gold Medal from the International Association of Opera Directors, and the Covent Garden Silver Medal for Outstanding Service. Miss Horne's international success in the most difficult of coloratura mezzo-soprano roles led to the revival of many of Rossini and Handel's greatest operas. In an unprecedented move, Marilyn Horne received Italy's first Rossini Medaglia d'Oro, created especially for her.
She celebrated twenty-six years as a leading lady at the Metropolitan Opera, and was honored at the San Francisco Opera for her thirty-nine seasons there in October 1999. Her many academic awards include numerous honorary doctorates from schools including the Juilliard School, Johns Hopkins University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 1999, Miss Horne was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. In 2001, Miss Horne received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Also in 2001, Miss Horne was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
Grammy Awards have been presented to Miss Horne for several of her operatic recordings. These include Handel's Semele (Deutsche Grammaphon), Presenting Marilyn Horne, In Concert at the Met with Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne, and Carmen (conducted by Leonard Bernstein). Her most recent releases include a collection of songs of Bernstein, Barber and Bolcom, entitled I Will Breathe a Mountain, and a recording of the songs of Irving Berlin that was released by VAI in 2000.
In celebration of her birthday in January of 1994, Miss Horne launched The Marilyn Horne Foundation, dedicated to the art of the vocal recital and presentation of young singers in recital throughout the United States. Every January since then, the Foundation has presented in conjunction with the Juilliard School, master classes taught by artists such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Maestro James Levine, Christa Ludwig, Grace Bumbry, Thomas Hampson, Regine Crespin, Warren Jones, Brian Zeger and Martin Katz and seminars featuring topics on the vocal arts, offering educational experiences for collegiate singers and pianists, as well as the public. In January of 1998, an anniversary benefit gala celebration took place at Carnegie Hall featuring Miss Horne with her colleagues and friends, and the debut of young artists supported by the Foundation. The gala in 1999 featured six young Foundation artists. In January 2000, the Foundation presented another gala concert at Carnegie Hall as a gift to the City of New York for the Millennium, free to the public, with over 600 tickets being given to students of all grade levels throughout New York City. In 2004 The Foundation will celebrate its 10th anniversary and inaugurate a new collaboration with Carnegie Hall, which will present The Song Continues in Zankel Hall. Since its inception, the Foundation has introduced over 30,000 students to the vocal recital and classical song via over 300 education programs across the country along with full recital appearances in New York City and many cities throughout the country.
Marilyn Horne is on the faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. As Vocal Program Director, she is teaching public master classes and private lessons to some of the world's most promising young artists. Miss Horne has been responsible for reviving full length staged opera performances at the Academy with brand new productions of Rossini's Il Viaggio a Rheims, a smashing success, and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in 1997 and 1998, followed by Handel's rarely performed opera, Rodelinda in the summer of 1999, Richard Strauss's masterpiece, Ariadne auf Naxos in summer of 2000, and Donizetti's Don Pasquale and Debussy's Pelléas and Mélisande (the Peter Brook 90-minute, two piano version) in 2001. Productions of Benjamin Britten's opera Albert Herring and Mozart's great masterpiece, Le Nozze di Figaro followed respectively in 2002 and 2003.
Born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, Marilyn Horne began her musical studies with her father
and first sang in public at the age of two. When she was eleven, her family moved to Long Beach, California. After completing high school at Long Beach Polytechnic, she studied voice with William Vennard and song/recital works with Gwendolyn Koldofsky (her accompanist thereafter for ten years) at the University of Southern California. During that time, she also participated in master classes with Lotte Lehmann at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara and Cal Tech in Pasadena. At the age of twenty, she made her operatic debut with the Los Angeles Guild Opera and, at that same age, dubbed the voice of Carmen in the highly successful film of Carmen Jones starring Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen. Her early operatic career included three years at the Gelsenkirchen Municipal Opera, Germany where she sang a wide variety of starring roles. In 1960, she returned to the U.S. where she presented her sensational debut in Berg's Wozzeck with the San Francisco Opera Company. Thirty-nine years later, appearing in September of 1999 in Laramie, Wyoming, Miss Horne fulfilled a personal goal of singing in all of the fifty states.
In 2000, Marilyn Horne stopped programming classical repertoire in recital, and began to offer programs which reflect her deep and abiding interest and experience, since childhood, in American folk and popular songs. In collaboration with pianist, arranger, and conductor Don Pippin, she presents two programs; An American Salute: Great American Popular Song, debuted in 2000 at the Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center, and Stephen Foster: Songs of America, which she debuted with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for the 2002-03 opening season gala. Additional programs include Steppin' Out with Irving Berlin, with tenor Robert White and pianist Dick Hyman, which opened the concert series of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in October 2000 and Just Between Friends with Barbara Cook which debuted in spring of 2002 at the Wharton Center, in East Lansing, MI and will be the 2003-2004 opening season gala of the Fleet Celebrity Series, at Symphony Hall in Boston and will be repeated in a special gala concert at Lehigh University's Zoellner Arts Center later in the fall.
Miss Horne's 2002-03 engagements included concerts in Huntsville, Alabama, Columbia, Maryland, Vero Beach, Florida and Denver, Colorado, where she inaugurated Gates Concert Hall in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Also in 2002-03, Miss Horne made her first teaching appearance at the University of Toronto and returned to the University of Oklahoma for two weeks of teaching residency, as well as to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she made her debut in 1961, this time to teach the singers of the Young Artists Program. Additional engagements and re-engagements for 2003-04 include Miss Horne's first master class residency abroad, at the Académie Musicale de Villecroze in Paris, a return to the University of Oklahoma, and a special gala concert with Don Pippin and members of the Saint Louis Symphony, at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Miss Horne's 2002 summer festival engagements included concerts at the Brevard Music Center and the Richard Rodgers Centennial Celebration at Ravinia.
Additional recent orchestral engagements have included the National Symphony in Washington, DC, the Houston Symphony, and the Hollywood Bowl. She has presented recitals of her new repertoire in Spartanburg, SC and the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE and performed special benefit concerts for the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Opera By the Bay Festival in Sausalito, CA.
Actively dedicated to excellence in vocal art, Miss Horne has ongoing commitments for private teaching and master classes throughout the world, which, in addition to those above, have most recently included North Carolina School for the Arts, Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, and Jeunesses Musicale in Montreal. She was in residence at Portland State University in spring of 2002, where she conducted public master classes and private coaching, and served as artistic consultant for the University's production of Rossini's Cenerentola.