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Jan Peerce
Birth: Jun. 3, 1904
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Death: Dec. 15, 1984
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA

Opera Singer. A premiere lyric tenor over a long career, he was also a well known radio and television performer. Born Jacob Pincus Perelmuth to Belarusian immigrant parents, he was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, attended De Witt Clinton High School and Columbia University, and studied the violin from an early age. He built a following as Jack "Pinky" Pearl and at his violin gigs was occasionally asked to sing, leading to the recognition of his vocal prowess. After some voice lessons he was hired for Radio City Music Hall in 1932 where he eventually was given the name Jan Peerce. Becoming popular via the radio he was heard by Maestro Arturo Toscanini who after an audition hired him for the NBC Symphony and was to use him as the ensemble's lead tenor for the next 17 years. (Speculation has arisen as to why Toscanini never employed Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling who was also an RCA Victor artist and while the great conductor never specifically spelled out his reasons he strongly implied that Peerce was courteous, reliable, and sober but that none of those adjectives applied to Bjorling). First heard with Toscanini in a February 6, 1938, Carnegie Hall performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony he made his operatic bow on December 10th. of that year with the Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company as the lecherous Duke from Verdi's "Rigoletto". Peerce gave his first New York solo recital in 1939 and during his simultaneous tenure in Philadelphia sang Alfredo in Verdi's "La Traviata" and Lt. B.F. Pinkerton from Puccini's "Madame Butterfly". After making his Metropolitan Opera bow on November 29, 1941, as Alfredo he was to remain there for 337 performances over nearly 30 years, his more noted portrayals including the painter Mario Cavaradossi of Puccini's "Tosca", the poet Rodolfo from the same composer's "La Boheme", and the title lead of Charles Gounod's "Faust". In 1943 he appeared in the War Department film "Hymn of the Nations" and over the years had a major recital career during which "The Bluebird of Happiness" became his signature piece, continued performing at the Metropolitan, made it to the silver screen a few times, and was often seen on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and other variety series of the time. In 1956 Peerce sang at Moscow's Bolshoi Opera as part of a cultural exchange and was invited to teach a master class and to return. After retiring from the Metropolitan in 1968 he continued to sing in recital and on television and in 1971 was to make his Broadway debut as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof". He gave his final public concerts in 1982 and died of lung disease contributed to by heavy smoking in his earlier years. His recorded legacy is massive and encompasses operas from Toscanini's broadcasts including Beethoven's "Fidelio" with Rose Bampton as well as both "La Traviata" and "La Boheme" opposite Licia Albanese, several studio complete and partial operas among them a 1950 "Rigoletto" starring Leonard Warren as the jester, and a number of discs of arias, popular songs, and Jewish liturgical works. His younger sister Sara was the wife of tenor Richard Tucker. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
Family links: 
  Louis Perelmuth
  Henya Perelmuth
  Alice Kalmanowitz Peerce (____ - 1994)*
  Jan Peerce (1904 - 1984)
  Sander Peerce (1910 - 1985)*
  Sara Perelmuth Tucker (1914 - 1985)*
*Calculated relationship
Mount Eden Cemetery
Westchester County
New York, USA
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Mar 30, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 7312851
Jan Peerce
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Jan Peerce
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Jan Peerce
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