Debut of singer Alma Gluck

November 16, 1909
American soprano Alma Gluck sits on a bench.
Courtesy of Bain News Service/U.S. Library of Congress.

Alma Gluck first appeared on stage with the Metropolitan Opera on November 19, 1909, in the role of Sophie in Massenet's Werther. Gluck was born in Romania but immigrated to the United States with her family in the 1890s. Gluck had an impoverished childhood and only began her vocal training as an adult, when a business associate of her husband heard her sing and arranged for her to take voice lessons. An encounter with the conductor Arturo Toscanini led to an audition for the performance in which she made her debut, which was conducted by Toscanini.

Although Gluck was successful in opera, she did not care for its theatrical nature and instead chose to become a concert performer. By 1914 she was the most popular concert singer in the United States, performing in all 48 states and in as many as 100 concerts a season. Gluck's extensive recording career earned her the most lasting fame. Between 1911 and 1919, Gluck made 124 recordings. Her recording of "Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginny" sold almost 2 million copies. Her career was quite financially successful; between 1914 and 1918 alone she earned $600,000 in royalties from her recordings.

Source: Jewish Women in America, An Historical Encyclopedia, p.521-522.


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Debut of singer Alma Gluck." (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <>.