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Florence Kopleff (Contralto)

Born: May 2, 1924 - New York City, New York, USA
Died: July 25, 2012 - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The renowned American contralto, Florence Kopleff, began her distinguished career in 1941, during her senior year of high school, when she auditioned for iconic conductor Robert Shaw. She appeared since end of the 1940’s very successfully in North America as a concert and oratorio singer. She appeared with important conductors and together with the big symphony orchestras. She became particularly known by her numerous appearances as soloist with Robert Shaw Chorale. She performed mostly Baroque music and works of the 19th century. She also had a distinguished solo career, from performing and recording the great oratorio roles with illustrious conductors and orchestras, to concert performances with the American Opera Society.

Florence Kopleff started also an activity as teacher at the Georgia State University in 1968, when Thomas Brumby, founder and head of the School of Music, persuaded her to become a professor and the school’s first artist-in-residence. Kopleff also continued her solo career nationally and became an asset to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, giving many memorable performances and offering her expertise by giving vocal classes and preparing transliterations of foreign-language texts for the Symphony Chorus. In 1984, the New York native established a scholarship at the Georgia State University to support the education of future generations of vocalists. Recently, she made a pledge to help renovate Recital Hall and a substantial bequest in her will to support vocal performance at Georgia State.

Georgia State University celebrated the contributions of Professor Emerita Florence Kopleff on her 80th birthday with a ceremony May 2, naming the School of Music’s Recital Hall in her honor. “Florence Kopleff possessed one of the greatest contralto voices in the last half of the 20th century,” said John Haberlen, director of the School of Music. “American concert audiences lauded her artistry, and listening to any of her recorded concerts provides the evidence of her accomplishments.”

Recordings: RCA (Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by J.S. Bach, Symphony No. 9 of L.v. Beethoven under Fritz Reiner, L'Enfance du Christ by Berlioz). With the Robert Shaw Chorale, she was a contralto soloist in Grammy-winning recordings of masterworks by George Frideric Handel, J.S. Bach and Benjamin Britten, among others.

Source: Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (April 2004), Georgia State University Villager (April 2004, by Beth Flannigan)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2004, August 2005), nsaz (August 2005); Manfred Krugmann (Dates & Photo 02, August 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Charles Munch


BWV 243, BWV 244 [1st], BWV 245

Robert Shaw


BWV 232 [2nd], BWV 232 [3rd], BWV 244

Links to other Sites

Renowned singer's gift to rename Recital Hall (Georgia State University Villager)


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