Sophie Braslau

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Sophie Braslau
Sophie Braslau circa 1915.jpg
Braslau circa 1915
Born (1892-08-16)August 16, 1892
Manhattan, New York City
Died December 22, 1935(1935-12-22) (aged 43)
Manhattan, New York City
Cause of death Cancer
Parent(s) Abel Braslau
Alexandra Goodelman

Sophie Braslau (August 16, 1892 – December 22, 1935) was a contralto prominent in United States opera, starting with her debut in New York City's Metropolitan Opera in 1913 when she was 21.[1]


Braslau was born on August 16, 1892 in Manhattan, New York City to Abel Braslau and Alexandra Goodelman Braslau.[1][a]

As a child, Braslau studied piano. Her vocal talent was discovered by voice teacher Arturo Buzzi-Peccia, a family friend, who heard the little girl humming while she practiced piano.[2][3] Braslau herself claimed to be inspired to a singing career after hearing Alma Gluck, another student of Buzzi-Peccia. She studied with Buzzi-Peccia for three years and then with a number of other instructors. She auditioned for New York's Metropolitan Opera in April 1913, was promptly signed to a contract, and debuted in November of that year. Her first leading role was in 1918 as Shanewis.[2]

Braslau also sang in concert and toured widely and frequently, first in the United States and Canada, then in Europe in the 1920s, using a repertoire which included works in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Yiddish.[3]

She retired from her full-time opera career in the late 1920s and performed very little as frail health brought her life to an early close.

Sophie Braslau died of cancer on December 22, 1935 in Manhattan.[1] At her funeral Sergei Rachmaninoff was an honorary pallbearer; the eulogy was delivered by Olin Downes, music critic for The New York Times.[1]


Braslau made a number of recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company and Columbia Records, often featuring her longtime accompanist Louise Bloch; some of the recordings were reissued on LP and CD. Her friendship with George Gershwin led her to record "The Man I Love" for Columbia.[citation needed]


  1. ^ James's Notable American Women, however, gives the year of her birth as 1888 and cites her New York death certificate as the source.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sophie Braslau, Opera Star, Dies. American Contralto, 43, Won Concert Fame After She Left Metropolitan". New York Times. December 23, 1935. Retrieved 2015-01-07. (Subscription required (help)). Sophie Braslau, noted American contralto, who had a distinguished career on both the concert and the operatic stage, died yesterday morning at her home ... 
  2. ^ a b c Perkins, Francis D. (1971). "Sophie Braslau". In James, Edward T.; James, Janet Wilson; Boyer, Paul S. Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Harvard University Press. pp. 230–231. ISBN 978-0-674-62734-5. 
  3. ^ a b Pollak, Oliver B. (2009-03-01). "Sophie Braslau". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. 

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