Photo of Marilyn Horne
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor of Voice

Biography

Marilyn Horne has been called the “Star Spangled Singer” and “the Heifetz of singers.” Opera News claimed she may be “the most influential singer in American History.”

Now retired from a singing career that lasted an incredible five decades, the legendary mezzo-soprano was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October 2009 and the next month received the National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors. She has held an annual residency at Oberlin since 2005, and she finds herself in demand at conservatories across the country.

Horne began her musical studies with her father and first sang in public at age 2. She studied voice with William Vennard and song/recital works with Gwendolyn Koldofsky at the University of Southern California. At 20 she made her operatic debut with the Los Angeles Guild Opera. Her early operatic career included three years at the Gelsenkirchen Municipal Opera in 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, followed by her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in 1961. Horne has earned Grammy Awards for her recordings of Handel’s Semele, Presenting Marilyn Horne, In Concert at the Met with Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne, and Carmen.

In January 2019, Horne celebrated her 85th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, dedicated to the art of the vocal recital and presentation of young singers in recital throughout the United States. Actively dedicated to excellence in vocal art, Horne has ongoing commitments for private teaching and master classes throughout the world.

Recent and very special milestones and achievements for Horne include being a recipient of the prestigiousOpera News Award, the highest honor given within the opera industry. In January 2014, she celebrated her 80th birthday and the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, dedicated to the art of the vocal recital and presentation of young singers in recital throughout the United States. In July 2010, the foundation’s programs became part of the venerable Carnegie Hall.

Among 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. Horne’s international success in the most difficult of coloratura mezzo-soprano roles led to the revival of many of Rossini’s and Handel’s greatest operas. In an unprecedented move, Horne received Italy’s first Rossini Medaglia d’Oro, created especially for her.

Horne has earned Grammy Awards for her recordings of Handel’s Semele (Deutsche Grammaphon), Presenting Marilyn HorneIn Concert at the Met with Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne, and Carmen (conducted by Leonard Bernstein). 

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