Jussi Björling Society - USA

 

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Bertil Bengtsson

Mr. Bengtsson is a founder of the Jussi Björling Sällskapet (The Scandinavian Jussi Björling Society ). He served as its secretary and newsletter editor for eight years and is currently a member of the Sällskapet's Advisory Board.

Mr. Bengtsson is also one of our youngest genuine experts on Jussi Björling's life and art - a true Jussicologist. He has assisted Harald Henrysson at the Borlänge Museet, and many have met him there.

Bertil graduated from Göteborg University in the Cultural Studies program with a Bachelor's degree in Art Science. He is now working in a Master's program in the same field. As part of that program, he spent ten weeks at the Zorn Museet documenting some of the collections, helping with re-arranging portions of the exhibitions, and guiding groups.

According to Bertil, "The Zorn collections are among the very finest in Sweden, and they're also internationally renowned. The museum is a gem...with marvelous works of art (mostly Zorn's own art, but also of Rembrandt, Rubens, Courbet , etc.) Mora itself is beautifully situated as a connection point between Lake Siljan and Lake Orsa and is surrounded by a spectacular natural environment- mountains and deep forests. The folklore tradition here is very old. Zorn's own massive timber house dates back to 1292 and is still in superb condition."

He points out that there are many parallels between the lives of Zorn and Jussi: "One of them is that they both mastered so many different facets of their respective arts- Jussi in opera, operetta, lieder, songs, and oratorio and Zorn in watercolor, oil painting, etching, wood-carving, and sculpture. Their respective "craftsmanship" and techniques were second to none, and they both had firm links to the past: Jussi in the Italian bel-canto tradition and Zorn in the inspiration and knowledge derived from the old masters- Rembrandt and Velazques in particular. They also based a large part of their respective careers in America- Jussi more so than Zorn, though. Zorn painted two American Presidents- Grover Cleveland and William Howard Taft and etched a third- Teddy Roosevelt."

"And of course they were both from the same region, Dalecarlia (Dalarna in Swedish), and both were staunch local patriots! Finally, another interesting thing is that Jussi's cousin, Märta Björling-Kärn, lived here in Mora until her death in 1997. I was happy to be able to count her as a very close friend, and I visited her often. She, of course, knew Jussi better than most people alive and also had memories of Zorn clad in his wolf-skin fur and riding on the winter ice of Lake Siljan as the judge of the equestrian games there."

Bertil extends the following invitation "To all dear Jussicologists! If you visit Sweden, there are two museums that you must include in your itinerary: The Jussi Björling Museum in Borlänge, and the Zorn Collections in Mora, an hour's drive north of Borlänge."