William Warfield, American baritone

I have been fortunate enough to have seen live performances by some of the greatest singers of the last century – artists like Leontyne Price, Richard Tucker, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Robert Merrill, Birgit Nilsson, Grace Bumbry, Jon Vickers, Dolora Zajick and a handful of others.

But of them all, the American baritone William Warfield was certainly among the greatest. I only heard him live once, in a concert that he gave for a group of school children in New Haven. His singing was extraordinary. But in addition to that, I saw him do something that I have never seen any other singer do. He actually got every single person in the audience of maybe 300 people to cry at the same time. The recital went from one richly rewarding, perfect performance to the next. He sang “Ol’ Man River” from Show Boat by Jerome Kern. He sang some of Aaron Copland’s “Early American Songs.” I have never seen another performance like it.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, I would like to invite you to share in that experience. To make it easy for you to enjoy the artistry of this extraordinary singer, I have created the following playlist that you can hear with just one click if you are a member of Classical Archives.

CLICK HERE to listen to William Warfield. On this playlist, you will hear him sing “Ol’ Man River” from Show Boat by Jerome Kern, followed by five songs from Early American Songs by Aaron Copland, followed by the recitative “Behold, I Tell You a Mystery” and “The Trumpet Shall Sound” from Messiah by George Frideric Handel.

I think you will agree that singing doesn’t get any better than this. All of us at Classical Archives hope it will enrich this very meaningful weekend.