Jenny Lind – the Swedish Nightingale
Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt’s final public performance was on 23rd July 1883 at the Royal Malvern Spa Hall, West Malvern. A concert had been organised to raise money for the Railway Servants’ Widows and Orphans’ Fund. The local newspaper reported that there was a large audience, partly because of its star performer – the world-famous Swedish opera singer – but perhaps also because her husband, Otto, accompanied several of the songs on piano.
There were quite a few items on the programme . But ‘the appearance of “Jenny Lind” was the signal for most enthusiastic and prolonged applause.’ With Miss Hilda Wilson and Miss Mildred Scott Tait, Jenny Lind sang an appropriate excerpt from Elijah – ‘Lift thine eyes unto the mountains’ – ‘with all her old enthusiasm and excellencies, and with an amount of animation truly wonderful for her years; such an ovation greeted the effort, that the artiste was even prevailed upon to give an encore`.
The newspaper article continued, ‘We cannot but be proud to know that the gifted cantatrice has selected this neighbourhood as her home during a portion of the year.’ After a few more songs and pieces of music by others, Jenny Lind and Hilda Wilson sang a song by Rubenstein, Song of the Birds, again an appropriate piece because she was known tenderly as the Swedish Nightingale.
Jenny Lind had chosen to spend her retirement at Wind’s Point, a secluded house opposite Herefordshire Beacon. Locals could occasionally hear her singing in her favourite part of the garden. She died in 1887 and after a funeral service in Malvern Priory attended by dignitaries from around the world, her coffin led the procession down to the town cemetery. When the first of the 27 carriages that followed reached the cemetery, the last carriage had not left the church. A Canadian mourner who was present at the ceremony recalled later how, ‘the hillsides around the church and cemetery were fairly black with people, not only from the vicinity, but from distant villages, whose tearful demeanour was remarkable’.