A Little Happier: The Composer Sibelius Had the Right Words to Say about Contralto Marian Anderson

I love it when people find the right words to say to ease a difficult situation, or to give comfort, or to pay tribute to someone.

Marian Anderson was the American contralto renowned for her performances—opera, spirituals, many kinds of music. She may be best known for singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, after she was denied permission to sing for an integrated audience at Washington’s DAR Constitution Hall.

In 1931, on a trip to Europe, Marian Anderson performed for the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in his home.

Years later, in a 1974 interview, Anderson said, “I remember that Sibelius came over to me, embraced me, and said, ‘My roof is too low for you.'”

I love this beautiful tribute to a singer’s voice. What a phrase! How perfectly it captured an appreciation for her mastery. My roof is too low for you.




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