Marchesi on her study with Manuel Garcia

“All Garcia’s pupils, both male and female, were enthusiastic about him, and patiently submitted to having to wait sometimes for hours in the anteroom, as he permitted no one to assist at his lessons. When at length the anxiously awaited moment had, as we thought, arrived, he often sent us home with, “I am tired, children; will see you to-morrow.” Whenever this occurred we were terribly disappointed, but this wonderfully gifted man’s next lesson made us soon oblivious of the previous day’s deprivation.

There was but one picture in Garcia’s room, a portrait of Jenny Lind, on which she had written a few words, expressing her gratitude to the master teacher. Curious to learn a few details concerning the celebrated singer, I begged him to tell me something of her, and this is what he related at the time:

“After I had tried her voice, I said to her, ‘Mademoiselle, you have an originality of style which requires training, but either your voice is worn or you have never had one. You must take a few weeks’ rest, after which I will hear you again. Still, in order to lose no time, I advise you to assist at the lessons I give to your countrywoman, Henriette Nissen,’ and my instructions were carried out. Silent and always deep in thought, Jenny Lind assisted at Nissen’s lessons, and when, after a few weeks, I again heard her, there was a considerable improvement in her higher notes, though the middle ones were still somewhat veiled, but we were able to begin to study. I do not remember ever having a more attentive, intelligent pupil. Never had I to explain anything twice, but her famous shake cost her no end of trouble, and she shed many tears over the first air from ‘Lucia.’ She studied a whole year with me, the Swedish government defraying the expenses of her tuition.”

Marchesi, Mathilde. Marchesi and Music: Passages from the Life of a Famous Singing-teacher. Cambridge University Press, 2013


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