Oscar Saenger Singing Lesson No. 20 for Tenors ~ Vocalise (1915)

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(Uncredited) American tenor Paul Althouse (1889-1954) / Oscar Saenger Singing Lesson No. 20 for Tenor ~ vocalise / spoken introduction by Oscar Saenger / William Falk – piano / Recorded: September 2, 1915.

The Oscar Saenger Singing Lessons appeared on Victor records for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass. These are 10 double-sided 12″ discs, with 20 different lessons for each category. Although the labels do not identify any of the singers, this is clearly Paul Althouse, (pictured here), confirmed in Victor ledgers and published in THE VICTOR DISCOGRAPHY: GREEN, BLUE AND PURPLE LABELS by Mainspring Press (2006). Among Saenger’s more famous pupils were Althouse, Josephine Jacoby, Marie Rappold, Mabel Garrison, Orville Harold. Henri Scott.

The following is from the Kutsch & Riemens Concise Biographical Dictionary of Singers (1969)

PAUL ALTHOUSE (b. Dec. 2, 1889, Reading, Pennsylvania; d. February 6, 1954, New York)
His teachers in New York were Perley Dunn Aldrich and Percy Rector Stevens, as well as Oscar Saenger. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera (1913) as Dmitri in the first American production of Boris Godonouv, and he remained a member of that company until 1921; there he sang in the first performances of, among others, Mme. Sans-Gene (1915), The Canterbury Pilgrims (1917), and Shanewis (1918). He appeared as Faust in San Francisco (1925) and sang as a guest star in Berlin, Stuttgart, and Stockholm (1929). A visit to the Bayreuth Festival led him to become interested in Wagner roles. He sang Tannhauser and then Siegmund in 1930 at the Chicago Opera and Tristan at the 1935 Salzburg Festival. From 1934-41 he was again at the Metropolitan Opera, appearing during this time particularly as a Wagner tenor. During these years he also had an important career as an oratorio singer. In 1941 he bade farewell to the stage and became one of America’s most important voice teachers, numbering among his pupils Richard Tucker, Eleanor Steber, and Irene Dalis. He recorded on Edison cylinders, Victor and Pathe discs. He made an electric recording of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder under Stokowski (1933); he also made private recordings for the Metropolitan Opera.

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23 thoughts on “Oscar Saenger Singing Lesson No. 20 for Tenors ~ Vocalise (1915)

  1. Interesting Doug, I have seen these records for sale before. I often
    wondered what they would sound like, thanks for sharing this.

  2. Lovely indeed. If I could sing like that-I’d give up my day job! Problem
    with that is that I’m retired,and no loger have my day job.

  3. Pleasing voice! Althouse’s 1st voice teacher, Miss Evelyn Essick, who died
    at 103 was a friend of mine. Paul’s uncle, Monroe Althouse, was famous as a
    composer of popular “street marches,” most of which are still being played
    by bands all over the U.S. A measure of Althouse’s popular appeal is the
    fact his Edison Blue Amberols remained in the catalog until “the end,” long
    after most other classical cylinders had been cut. His mother lived 10 min.
    from my home–along the Manatawny Creek.

  4. DOUG ~ What a BEAUTIFUL vocal texture this fellow Althouse had and his
    overall sound was almost more Italian than American ~ nice and clean and
    kept correctly “thin” as he marched up to A Naturals in the middle. In this
    lesson he shows admirable restraint (not too much forte) ~ all the more
    remarkable since tenors of his time must have felt the influence of the
    very dramatic style of delivery Caruso made popular. Then your research
    shows he went on to sing Wagner roles in later years! ~ ANDY

  5. I only knew Althouse, Richard Tucker’s only teacher, from his iffy Boris
    disk with Arndt-Ober. He had an attractive voice. This was very
    interesting. Sænger’s pronunciation of the word Vocalise is funny. It’s a
    word of French origin. In English the preferred pronunciation is
    voh-kuh-`leez.

  6. Are you certain of the date on that recording? It sure sounds like it was
    recorded electrically. The piano sounds a bit dim but the voice and
    sibilants come through very clearly.

  7. The date from, Victor archives, is very much correct. In fact ALL the Oscar
    Saenger sets ~ soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, bass ~ were recorded
    acoustically in 1915. Tnx & Rgds. Doug –

  8. What beautiful singing from Althouse. These exercises sound as if written
    for the advanced student. Clear recording, and fine support from Saenger.

  9. Althouse actually had two seperate careers with the Met. Beginning with his
    1913 debut as Grigori in “Boris,” he spent the balance of the decade in the
    standard lyrico spinto roles. He also married a member of the Met ballet
    during that time, and they had two daughters. He was darkly, boyishly
    handsome, and only the second American-born tenor to have a career with the
    company (Ricardo Martin was the first). After taking a decade to restudy
    his voice, he returned, 1930 – 41, in heavier roles.

  10. @oliviahaller Paul Althouse is seen in all the pictures of this posting.
    Afraid I don’t know much about Oscar Saenger, other than what can be
    gleaned via the Internet. There are a small number of his pictures on the
    Library of Congress website, and advertisements for the singing lessons
    recorded by Victor appear not infrequently on eBay. Good luck! 

  11. Do you have any more of the tenor exercise records? They are fascinating,
    but I haven’t been able to track any more of them down on the
    internet….and I would be thrilled to hear more. 

  12. Ah thank you it seem one of those, don’t know if i have that opus. It gets
    really boring singing them but it’s very nice and good solfeggi first sight
    

  13. William J. Falk (1872-1953) was my great-grandfather Louis J. Falk’s
    brother. He was a popular pianist and accompanist for singers in the 1890’s
    and beyond, performing in many recitals and concerts, including a number of
    them at Carnegie Hall. His sister (my great-great-aunt) Adele Falk was also
    a pianist and accompanist, and they performed together on occasion. A
    hundred years later, I’m a pianist and vocal accompanist (and
    orchestrator/conductor), not a stranger to Carnegie Hall. – Fred Barton

  14. They additionally may pair you with other college students if any who may give you some ideas that work for them or to make you feel extra comfy singing.

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