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Jan Peerce

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Jan Peerce (June 3, 1904 – December 15, 1984) was an American operatic tenor.

The Jewish American tenor, Jan Peerce (real name, Jacob Pincus Perelmuth), grew up in the New York City streets, and attended De Witt Clinton High School and Columbia University. He took violin lessons, and gave public performances; sometimes he also sang and it was soon discovered he was an exceptional lyric tenor.

In 1932 he was hired as a tenor soloist with the Radio City Music Hall company. Thanks to its radio broadcasts and stage programs, Peerce soon had a nationwide following. This led to concert engagements, and then he made his operatic debut in May 1938 in Philadelphia as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, followed by his first solo recital in New York in November 1939.

The legendary maestro Arturo Toscanini heard him and found him to be the tenor he had sought to sing operatic and choral works with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The recordings made during, or following, the NBC broadcasts are among the outstanding musical legacies of our time. Toscanini was reportedly pleased with Peerce’s professionalism, as well as his extraordinary musical talents; many have said that Peerce may have been Toscanini’s “favorite tenor” during the Maestro’s 17 years at NBC.

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