Marian Anderson: Beyond the Music - 15 CDs + 228-Page Book

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A 2021 GRAMMY Nominee for Best Historical Album!

Sony Masterworks' Beyond the Music is a special 15-CD edition celebrating contralto Marian Anderson, the first Black singer to perform at the Met Opera.

On April 9, 1939, a cold Easter Sunday, a woman in a fur coat walked down the steps of Lincoln Memorial, ready to perform in open air after being refused the largest hall in Washington because she was Black. As contralto Marian Anderson raised her voice to sing the words of "My Country, ’Tis of Thee" to the 75,000 who gathered to listen to her, an unforgettable historic moment unfolded. The great voice of “The Lady from Philadelphia,” first discovered by her local neighborhood, took her to global fame on the stages of Europe, Asia, and America. She became the first Black woman to perform at the Met in New York; she sang for presidents and kings, defied the Nazis to sing in Germany in the 1930s, and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and with her dignity, courage, and unwavering belief in equal rights, she became an icon in her supportive role for the civil rights movement.

The present edition is the first release of Marian Anderson’s complete recorded legacy for RCA Victor. Along with the first-ever complete release of her legendary Farewell Recital at Constitution Hall in 1964, many recordings appear here on CD for the first time. From her debut in 1924 for the Victor label to her last LP from 1966, all recordings have been meticulously restored and remastered from the original analog masters using 24 bit / 96 kHz technology. 72 works are appearing on CD for the first time, 9 recordings previously unreleased. The 228-page coffee-table book is richly illustrated with numerous photos and facsimiles, a new essay by Raymond Arsenault – author of The Sound of Freedom and Freedom Riders – and full discographical notes. It is a homage to the artistic life of a singer “one is privileged to hear only once in a hundred years” (Toscanini) and who left us a legacy of humanity, generosity, talent, and faith.


What emerges on every track (11 of them available for the first time) is a contralto whose voice is characterized by an inner glow, crisp diction and unwavering dignity, no matter what the genre. Special mention must be made of this set’s presentation, which stands among the glories of the CD era not just for its musical comprehensiveness, but also for its artful design.

Opera Magazine

Sony (owners of the RCA Victor/BMG catalogue) has issued a huge, 226-page coffee-table book dedicated to the great contralto Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993). The raison d’être for Beyond the Music: Marian Anderson—Her Complete RCA Victor Recordings is not its numerous large photographs of Anderson, which are supplemented by album covers, liner notes, tributes, concert programs, and complete discographical information in multiple formats, but rather its 15 CDs that include every recording Anderson made for RCA Victor from 1923 (when she was 26) through 1966 (when she was 69).

Impeccably remastered from 24/96 digital transfers, the set includes the first-ever release of her complete 1966 Farewell Recital in Constitution Hall, 72 first issues on CD, and numerous unpublished recordings that receive their first release…

By sampling Anderson’s RCA recordings, starting with the previously unissued trial recording of the spiritual “Deep River” (arr. Henry Thacker Burleigh) from Nov. 1, 1923 through Brahms’s “Dein blaues Auge hält so still” (Your blue eyes stay so still), Op. 59/8 from the previously unissued final recording session(s) in 1966, several things become clear…the beauty and range of her voice were astounding. Her low notes were like few on record...At the high end of her range, especially earlier in the career, the voice was remarkably free and soprano-like.

…Anderson was a natural storyteller. Give her songs like Schubert’s “Erlkönig” (The elf king), in which she thickened and deepened her voice to play the father and shook her vibrato to convey his son’s fright, “Der Doppelgänger” (The phantom double), and “Die Forelle” (The trout), and she was in her element…

If…you have not yet heard the haunting solemnity of 1951’s “Der Jüngling und der Tod” (The youth and death), with its profound repeat of the words “O komm” (O come) and the finality of its concluding phrase, or the incomparably mesmerizing “Der Tod und Das Mädchen” (Death and the maiden) from the end of 1947, your understanding of great singing is about to be enriched. Note as well that as good as these recordings may sound on YouTube, they sound far better and more impactful in their latest remasterings.

Anderson’s ability to sing quietly, almost as if she were whispering to you alone, was one of her most indelible attributes…Time and again, when her material called for it, she tapered her large instrument down to a quiet thread, moved very close to the microphone, and sang as though life itself depended on every sound and word she uttered. The effect, accomplished in concert with her eyes closed, was unforgettable.

--San Francisco Classical Voice

Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 27, 2021

  • Catalog Number: 19439836492

  • UPC: 194398364926

  • Label: Sony

  • Number of Discs: 15

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Performer: Marian Anderson