The beloved American tenor Jan Peerce was born in New York City in 1904. His parents, Jewish immigrants from an area of Poland that became Belarus, named him Jacob Pincus Perelmuth. Growing up in a cold water flat on the Lower East Side, his first musical love was for the violin — as a young man, he earned money by playing the fiddle and singing in dance bands. Then, in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, his exceptional voice earned him a long-term contract with New York’s famed Radio City Music Hall.
In a multi-faceted career spanning more than sixty years, Jan Peerce delighted audiences across a variety of styles. For three decades, he reigned as a Metropolitan Opera favorite. He also sang popular music, and performed Jewish cantorial repertoire.
Enjoy these videos of Jan Peerce and his versatile, distinguished, powerfully emotional singing voice.
Jan Peerce sings the popular Italian song “O Sole Mio”
Jan Peerce sings the aria “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot
Jan Peerce sings the traditional Yiddish lullaby “Rozhinkes mit Mandlen”
Jan Peerce visited Studs Terkel in 1961 — hear their conversation on The Best of Studs Terkel on WFMT, Friday, November 22 at 11:00 pm.