Episode 244. Veronica Tyler (BHM 2024)

Episode 244. Veronica Tyler (BHM 2024)



This Countermelody episode is the last in my miniseries featuring artists from Baltimore. It is also the last in my new episodes for Black History Month 2024 featuring “Forgotten Divas.” Today I offer to you the absolutely divine soprano of Veronica Tyler (1939-2020), who fits all three categories. In the 1960s, Veronica Tyler was a name on everyone’s lips: she appeared on three different episodes of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, she was the second prize winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1966, the first time this venerable contest had featured singers, she was a featured artist at the New York City Opera, where, in their first season at Lincoln Center, she sang a Pamina in The Magic Flute of such humanity and transcendent vocal beauty that audiences were transported into another world. She sang under conductors Leopold Stokowski, Erich Leinsdorf, Zubin Mehta, Eugene Ormandy, Carlo Maria Giulini, Robert Shaw, and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Later on she made a belated Met debut in 1985 as Serena in their premiere production of Porgy and Bess, but gradually her high profile appearances became fewer and fewer and eventually she disappeared from view. Her death on 21 March 2020 was only announced three months later, and with little fanfare. But during her heyday, Veronica Tyler was among the most elegant, compelling, and ingratiating lyric sopranos in the business. I have scoured the archives to bring to light some of the artist’s most beautiful performances, some of them virtually unheard for decades, including a 1980 album of spirituals that ranks among the best of this repertoire ever committed to disc. What inexpressible joy it brings me to present to you the unforgettable Veronica Tyler!


Traditional Spiritual: Give Me Jesus. Veronica Tyler [1980]

Johannes Brahms, Georg Friedrich Daumer: Die grüne Hopfenranke (Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52/5). Veronica Tyler, Regina Sarfaty, Charles Bressler, John Boyden, Arthur Gold, Robert Fizdale [1962]

Johann Sebastian Bach: Quia respexit humilitatem (Magnificat). Veronica Tyler, Leopold Stokowski, Philadelphia Orchestra [Philadelphia 11.III.1967]

Gian Carlo Menotti: Hello? Hello? Oh, Margaret, it’s you (The Telephone). Veronica Tyler, Gregory Millar, New York Philharmonic [live New York 18.III.1961]

Georges Bizet, Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy [after Prosper Mérimée]: Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante (Carmen). Veronica Tyler, Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic [live New York 06.XI.1964]

Robert Schumann, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Ist jemand da?… Würde mich kein Ohr vernehmen (Szenen aus Goethes Faust). Veronica Tyler, Hermann Prey, Erich Leinsdorf, Boston Symphony Orchestra [live Boston 26.II.1966]

Legendary Soviet tenor Ivan Kozlovsky backstage with Veronica Tyler

Urbach: Vocalise. Veronica Tyler, Warren Wilson [live Moscow, Tchaikovsky Competition 1966]

Veronica Tyler and Warren Wilson perform live in Moscow at the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition

Gustave Charpentier: Depuis le jour (Louise). Veronica Tyler [live, Moscow, Tchaikovsky Competition 1966]

Giacomo Puccini, Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa [after Henri Murger]: Mi chiamano Mimì (La Bohème). Veronica Tyler, Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic [live 25.II.1967]

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Du Bose Heyward: My Man’s Gone Now (Porgy and Bess). Veronica Tyler, Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic [live 25.II.1967]

John Reardon and Fred Rogers with friend

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Emanuel Schikaneder: Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen [sung in English] (The Magic Flute). Veronica Tyler, John Reardon, Julius Rudel, New York City Opera Orchestra [live New York 19.X.1966]

Traditional Spiritual, arr. Florence Price: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand. Veronica Tyler, Ernest Ragogini [1980]

11 thoughts on “Episode 244. Veronica Tyler (BHM 2024)”

  1. What an exquisite singer in every aspect–production, technique, phrasing, diction, dynamics, musicianship, and beauty. I had not had the privileg of hearing Veronica Tyler prior to this. She is truly magnificent.

    1. Dear Mark, Thank you so much for your note. I was also virtually unaware of Ms. Tyler before preparing this episode; I knew her only by name and reputation. But as you say, the virtues of Veronica Tyler are most obvious when one listens to her recordings. All aspects of great singing are apparent in her singing. Thanks for listening, DG

    2. This was my first countermelody experience and I am already hooked. Where has she been all my listening life? Never heard her before or indeed of her. She is magnificent in every way; superlative technique, great musicality, an interesting interpreter and a lovely voice. What couldn’t she do in her fach I wonder? Thank you so much for introducing me to a new friend!

      1. I felt the same way as I was preparing this episode, Dean! And welcome to Countermelody! I hope you’ll be finding other new favorites here as well as encountering some old ones! Best, Daniel

  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to Miss Veronica Tyler! What an exquisite voice! I wish I had heard her rendition of ‘Give me JESUS’, and used it to perfect my rendition. BRAVA Miss Tyler!

    1. Dear D’Juana, I couldn’t agree more about the exquisite voice and artistry of Ms. Tyler! She could serve as an artistic role model for anyone taking on her repertoire! All best, Daniel

  3. Veronica Tyler is my mother. Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute. I am extremely grateful that you are helping to keep her legacy.

    1. Dear Adrienne, I’m so grateful to hear from you. I want you to know that among the many, many episodes that I have published now, the one featuring your mother has prompted ecstatic responses from the largest number of my listeners. She made the world a better place through her voice and artistry, for which we are all grateful. Writing you privately. Sincerely yours, Daniel

  4. I meant to post this the other day. What an exquisite program this one was. Just . . . ahhhhh The Menotti was an absolute treat and Ms. Tyler was a comic delight with pinpoint accuracy in the coloratura and stunning diction. Micaela’s aria was just ravishingly beautiful. In fact, one of the loveliest I’ve heard in ages. I remember her also from the BSO Schumann “Faust” because I had the recording of that on LP! What a phenomenal cast THAT was, in addition to Veronica and Prey, Tatiana Troyanos, Florence Kopleff, Thomas Paul (those last two on the classic Robert Shaw Chorale “first” recording of the 1752 Messiah which I was nuts for as a boy) and Beverly Sills as Gretchen!

    This entire episode was a very special one. Thanks!

    1. I’m so excited that you enjoyed this episode. As I mentioned on the episode, there are, I know, a few other live recordings of Ms. Tyler floating around that have not yet crossed my desk. I’m still on the search, and will be doing an update on my “Forgotten Divas” in a few months, with additional recordings that I have uncovered not only of Ms. Tyler, but also Delcina Stevenson, Annabelle Bernard, and Gwendolyn Killebrew! And yeah, what a CAST for that Faust! Amazing!

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