The history of the Swedish-Italian school

In the spring of 2003 I was lucky to meet David L. Jones from New York. He is an internationally renowned master teacher of voice. I had read his articles on the internet and asked him if he would also be giving seminars in Germany, and it so happened that one was even scheduled in Berlin. It was fully booked of course and I prepared to just sit in on it, but as someone cancelled at short notice our collaboration began.

David Jones is the last student of Alan Lindquest who brought the Swedish-Italian school, as we call it today, to America and thus saved it from extinction. Via David Jones it was returned to Europe and can now revive a tradition that was interrupted by the Second World War.

The Swedish-Italian school dates back to Dr Gillis Bratt and is associated with singers like Jussi Bjoerling, Kirsten Flagstad, Set Svanholm and Karin Branzell today.

Gillis Bratt was a baritone at the Stockholm Opera House, an otolaryngologist, a singing teacher and had also studied psychology with Sigmund Freud. Bratt himself had been a student of Manuel Garcia II as well as Giovanni Battista Lamperti and was Kirsten Flagstad’s teacher.

Alan Lindquest studied with two authorized teachers of this singing school in 1938/39, with Mrs Ingebjart-Isene, who taught Kirsten Flagstad after Bratt’s death, and with Joseph Hislop, the last teacher of Jussi Bjoerling. Being taught by the same teacher, Bjoerling and Lindquest had a lively exchange about vocal problems and perceptions.

The foundations of the old Italian school were taught here:

  • The vowel ‚u‘ as the basic vowel to open the throat.
  • ‚Inalare la voce‘ with the perfect connection to the back muscles (the singer sings with his back)
  • The passaggio and coperto to provide acess to and protect the upper range.
  • And all this in connection with a soft-spoken Scandinavian language.

David Jones’s work made the heroic tenor fach acessible to me and changed my own work fundamentally. I find myself obliged to enter into this tradition with gratitude.

More information about David Jones and the Swedish-Italian school at: www.voiceteacher.com