[Sembrich Picture]

[Spacer] Sembrich Kochanski, Marcelina

Opera singer. Born in Wisniowczyk, Poland, February 15, 1858. Adopted mother's maiden name: Sembrich. Her father Casimir Kochanski, played piano at the age of 4; made her debut when ten years of age playing piano and violin. Attended the Musical Conservatory in Lwow, Poland. When 16 played both piano and violin, sang for Franz Liszt, who discovered that she had a great voice and urged her to study singing. In 1877 married her teacher W. Stenger, who died on May 15, 1917; made debut at the Metropolitan Opera Company from 1898 to 1909. On February 6, 1909 left the stage. Had a repertoire of 40 operas. Knew 16 languages and spoke fluently in seven. When the World War broke out, organized in 1915. the Polish American Relief Committee for Poland in New York, and was the first president of said committee. Died on January 11, 1935 at her home, 151 West Central Park, New York, N.Y. Her son, Marcel William Stengel took her body to Dresden, Germany, to the family mausoleum of her husband. On February 11, 1935, a Requiem Mass for her soul was said in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York with about 3500 prominent people in the artistic world present.

From: "Who's Who in Polish America" by Rev. Francis Bolek, Editor-in-Chief; Harbinger House, New York, 1943

Sembrich, Marcella -- opera and concert artist

Marcella Sembrich (1858-1935) was born in Austrian occupied Poland, the daughter of Kazimierz Kochanski and Julianna Sembrich. She adopted her mothers surname for the stage.

Marcella's father was her first piano teacher and formal lessons began when she was four years old. A year later, father placed a violin in her little hands and it became evident that Marcella was that rare phenomena in humankind - a total musical personality. She became a highly skilled violinist, an excellent pianist and one of the most brilliant representatives of vocal art. Her perfect tonal balance, unique textural quality, and incredibly wide range impressed Franz Liszt who told her she could attain greatness as a pianist or violinist but advised her to "sing for the world, for you have the voice of an angel."

After only two years of study, she debuted as Elvira in Bellini's "I Puritani" and went on to Covent Garden Opera and the greatest opera houses in France, Russia, Germany, Spain and America. She made her American debut in 1883 on the second night of the first season of the newly opened Metropolitan Opera House. She was then 25 years old. A triumphant tour of Opera Houses throughout America and Europe followed. She rejoined the "Met" in its 1898‹99 season and was the featured artist there until 1909 when her farewell performance called for the most sumptuous gala in the history of the Metropolitan Opera. She received one of the greatest ovations ever, when her farewell concert featured her as a violinist, pianist, and singer!

On leaving the stage, she devoted her life to teaching and became the founder of the vocal departments of the Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. For 25 years she was the pre‹eminent teacher of singing in America. During summers she brought a selected group of students to Bolton Landing on Lake George, N.Y. for further instruction in a studio built at the lakeside of her estate. It became the "in" place for the development of many gifted singers. She fired the imagination of young singers and imparted knowledge that only a lifetime of experience can produce. As a teacher, she trained more of America's first rate opera singers than any other teacher in the United States and during her days on stage she was better known than her contemporary -- Enrico Caruso.

From: Wally West