Dedication to her home town

Her home town with family and friends were always important for Birgit Nilsson. She gladly spoke of her childhood in the country. Her love for life at home stayed with her throughout her long career. After retiring from the opera world, she had more time to spend in her home town.

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Concert at the church in Västra Karup, 1971. Photo: Hans Karlsson

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Concert at the church in Västra Karup, 1979. Photo: Eje Sjölander.

Birgit never forgot ”those back home” during her career. In letters and postcards, she asked her father about new investments, the harvest season, and other things about life on the farm. She never forgot to congratulate family and friends on birthdays or other celebrations. Birgit spoke gladly with journalists and colleagues about her memories from home; the farm, her youth, the amateur theater group, the church choir, friends, and bicycle trips.

Summer and song in Bjäre

During the 1940’s, Birgit spent her summer vacations at home with her parents in Svenstad. She helped with the daily farm chores. Now and then she gave recitals in the village. She sang at church services, different places of entertainment and restaurants with dance. Churches were her most important singing places at this time. Before being accepted to the Opera School in Stockholm in 1944, her goal was to be a singer in church. The fantastic acoustics in the buildings suited her large voice perfectly.

Concerts on the home front

The local history society of Bjäre Härad asked Birgit in 1955 if she would consider singing at a benefit concert for the society and their new open-air museum. This was the start of a series of concerts that were to continue for more than half a century. The concerts were held in a number of places until they finally found a home in Västra Karup church. Eventually these ”Birgit Nilsson concerts” became well-known not only in Sweden but among friends of the opera around the world. The final concert for her home town, where she herself was soloist, was at the church in 1984. The concerts continued with other soloists and were seen as prestige-filled events in the world of classical music. Every year the local history society received letters and phone calls from singers and musicians who wished to participate in a Birgit Nilsson-concert. Birgit continued to help the local history society for many years on different occasions. She was everything from opening speaker and organizer to inspirational leader and officiated at the concerts. She also involved most of the other great artists: Gösta Winbergh, Mari Anne Häggander, Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, Susanne Resmark, Nina Stemme, Helena Döse and others. Birgit took advantage of the oppurtuity to present young local talent, who participated in the concerts. The final benefit concert of the 38 in which Birgit participated, as singer or conferencier, was in 2001.