American soprano Bethany Beardslee rose to prominence in the postwar years when the modernist sensibilities of European artists and thinkers were flooding American shores and challenging classical music audiences. With her light lyric voice, her musical intuition, and her fearless dedication to new music, Beardslee became the go-to girl for twelve-tone music in New York City. She was the first American singer to build a repertoire performing the music of Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Alban Berg, Milton Babbitt, and Pierre Boulez, making a vibrant career singing difficult music.
I Sang the Unsingable is an autobiographical account of the acclaimed twentieth-century art song soprano. In her memoir, Beardslee tells the story of how she made her way from inauspicious depression-era East Lansing to Carnegie Hall, and how her unique combination of musical gifts and training were alchemy for challenging mid-century music. This is Beardslee's own perspective on a formidable catalogue of premieres, a forty-six-year career, and a deep and lifelong dedication to performing the work of the composers of our time.
Born in 1925 in Lansing, Michigan, Bethany Beardslee is an American soprano. She is particularly noted for her collaborations with major twentieth-century composers.
Minna Zallman Proctor is a writer, critic, and translator. She is editor-in-chief of The Literary Reviewand the author of Do You Hear What I Hear? and Landslide: True Stories.
Support for this publication was provided by the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.