Modest Menzinsky (1875 – 1935) was a famous male opera singer. His tenor voice was ideally suited for the full range of operas by Wagner and Menzinsky sang all of them. During his time on stage as a singer, Modest Menzinsky performed every major male opera role in the great opera theatres across Europe.
Modest Menzinsky performed all over Europe. Press critics and the public of the 1920s and 1930s considered Modest Menzinsky to be a great opera singer. The people of Sweden, Germany, Austria and Ukraine consider him to be one of their famous tenors.
Click to hear….
Click to hear Modest Menzinsky sing Lohengrin from the opera Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, from the archives of the S.Krushelnytska Museum, Lviv, Ukraine
Please be aware that there is a 30 sec. orchestral introduction.
Short Biography of a Famous Male Opera Singer
Modest Menzinsky was born on April 29, 1875 in the village of
Novosilky, which at the time was part of the Austrian Empire. Today, it
is in Ukraine.
Menzinsky was the only male of four children. As a young man, he
followed family tradition and began his studies in theology at the
University of Lviv. His music studies, Menzinsky began in secret.
“But it so happened, that even though my parents had
chosen the path of theology for me, learning behind the thick walls of
the Lviv monastey was not to my liking. My soul yearned for the arts
and music and for me, this was the most difficult test. It was strictly
forbidden for theology students to attend the theatre. Contrary to
this, I found ways to circumvent the strict rules of the monastery and
then my heart and ear filled with the music of “Lohengrin” and
“Tanhauser”. I also visited professor Valeriy Vysotsky of the Music
Academy and had my first voice lessons with him. Of course, no one knew
about this and these were “stolen lessons”, although very dear to me.”
from an article “How I Came to the Stage” by Modest Menzinsky
In 1899, with the consent of his parents, Modest Menzinsky began to
study voice with Julius Stockhausen in Frankfurt (Main).
April/September 18, 1901, operatic debut at the Frankfurt
Opera in the role of Lionel in the opera Marta by Friedrich von Flotow
1904 – 1910, resident soloist at the Royal
Swedish Opera in Stockholm, performing in German, Italian and Swedish
1908 – 1909 season, contract with the Lviv Opera House
1910 – 1926, resident soloist at the Cologne
1927, retired from the opera stage, continued as a singing
teacher and professor of voice in Stockholm
April 29, 1934, appeared for the last time on his
59th birthday in Stockholm during a radio show.
Modest Menzinsky married Clari in 1905 and had two
sons – Georg and Hans.
On December 11, 1935 Modest Menzinsky passed away and was buried in
Why do the People of Sweden Consider Modest Menzinsky to be
One of Their Great Opera Singers?
From left to right: Yurko (Georg), Clari, Mother-in-law, me, Ivan (Hans)
Modest Menzinsky considered Sweden to be his second homeland.
In his memoirs he wrote: “In Stockholm I married a Swedish girl and my
wife gave me two sons. So, Stockholm became my second homeland.”
became fluent in Swedish
spent 5 years as a soloist with the Royal Swedish Opera in
Stockholm (1904-1908, 1909-1910)
sang major tenor roles in Swedish
received a Swedish Award of Merit from King Oswald II in
obtained Swedish citizenship in 1910
retired from the opera stage to Stockholm in 1927
passed away in 1935 and as was his wish, is buried in
Carl-Gunnar Ahlen, a musicologist and contemporary music
critic in Stockholm has stated that “Modest Menzinsky was capable of
singing in a variety of styles, which is quite unique for an opera
Why do the People of Germany Consider Modest Menzinsky (Menzynskyj) to be One of Their Great Classical Opera Singers?
M. Menzynskyj as Wagner’s Tristan
Modest Menzinsky was considered one of the greatest Wagner
tenors of his time. Of the 13 operas that Richard Wagner completed,
Modest Menzinsky counted 10 in his repertoire:
Lohengrin, opera Lohengrin
Tannhäuser, opera Tannhäuser
Erik, opera Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman)
Siegmund, opera Die Walküre from Der Ring des Nibelungen
Siegfried (young), opera Siegfried from Der Ring des
Nibelungen “Second Day”
Siegfried (old), opera Gotterdämmerung from Der Ring des
Nibelungen “Last Day”
Walter von Stolzing, opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Tristan, opera Tristan und Isolde
Parsifal, opera Parsifal
Cola Rienzi, opera Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen
It was an incredible accomplishment, unequaled by many
Why do the People of Austria Consider Modest Menzinsky to be
One of Their Great Opera Singers?
Modest Menzinsky in F. Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten
Modest Menzinsky was personally acquainted with the Austrian
composer Franz Schreker (1879 – 1934). Schreker ( Schrecker ) had a
significant impact on the development of German language opera during
the Weimar Republic.
Because of his personal acquaintance with Franz Schreker, Modest
Menzinsky sang the tenor roles in three of the composer’s opera
Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized), in Frankfurt (Main) on
April 25, 1918
Der Schatzgräber (The Treasure Digger), in Frankfurt (Main)
on January 21, 1920
Irrelohe, in Cologne (Köln) on March 27, 1924.
Why do the People of Ukraine Consider Modest Menzinsky to be
One of Their Great Classical Opera Singers?
Concert Dedicated to Famous Opera Singer Modest Menzinsky
Modest Menzinsky was the first singer to introduce Mykola
Lysenko’s music to Western Europe. Mykola Lysenko (1842 – 1912) is
considered the father of Ukrainian classical music.
Menzinsky was personally acquainted with Lysenko and corresponded with
him on a regular basis.
Modest Menzinsky sang concert tours in the Galicia (Halychyna) region
of Ukraine in 1912, 1924, 1925, when he was a resident soloist with the
Cologne ( Köln ) Opera. In 1928, after his retirement from the opera
stage, he gave a final concert tour in Western Ukraine.
Today, after many years of a Soviet totalitarian regime, the people of
Ukraine are rediscovering their cultural roots. This includes
researching classical traditions that were denied for a long time and
honouring famous opera singers of the past.
Among the old male singers, Modest Menzinsky was remembered in a
concert to commemorate the 120th anniversary of his birth in Lviv,
Ukraine. Family from Australia, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine gathered on
May 5, 1995 to honour one of their own.
The evening concert for the famous male opera singer Modest Menzinsky
was under the musical direction of Maestro Myron Yusypovych.