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The World's Greatest Tenors - Jan Peerce

Updated on October 16, 2012

The World's Greatest Tenors - Jan Peerce

Jan Peerce, ca. 1960s
Jan Peerce, ca. 1960s
Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini




Jan Peerce was born Joshua Pincus Perlemuth in 1903 in a coldwater flat on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His parents came from the Belarusian village of Horodetz. He remained on the Lower East Side until his 1930 marriage to Alice Kalmanovitz.


In 1932 he was hired as a tenor soloist at the Radio City Music Hall where they renamed him John Pierce which quickly became Jan Peerce. He soon had a nationwide following due to his radio broadcasts.


Arturo Toscanini heard him singing Wagner on the radio and hired him to sing with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He first sang with Toscanini on February 6, 1938, in Carnegie Hall.


In 1938, he joined Philadelphia’s La Scala Opera Company and he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1941, singing the role of Alfredo in Verde’s La traviata.


The first recording that you will hear is

is Jan Peerce singing Verdi's La traviata


The World's Greatest Tenors

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Jan Peerce

Jan Peerce Metropolitan Opera Debut

Jan Peerce

Jan Peerce in Rigoletto
Jan Peerce in Rigoletto
Jan Peerce in Israel
Jan Peerce in Israel


During his time with Toscanini making broadcasts with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, Jan Peerce made numerous recordings, which included the popular songs of the day. One of them, "The Bluebird of Happiness", which he recorded under his own name in 1945, became a best- selling record.


I was only seven at the time, but I recall that it was my stepbrother Gordon’s favorite song. Unfortunately, my brother was extremely disturbed mentally, and the following Halloween, he committed suicide in our garage.


He came home from hunting, sat down in an old wooden chair in the garage, held his rifle against his chest and pulled the trigger. I was the first to find him, and the memory of what I saw will haunt me forever. I tell the story in my hub, Sad Stories - Halloween.


I also include another personal favorite of mine,"Thine Alone" .



During the 1950s Peerce performed with conductor Alfredo Antonini in the "Italian Night" open-air concerts at Lewisohn Stadium in New York. Along with his brother-in-law, Richard Tucker, another great tenor. The next selection is "O Paradiso" from La Africana by Meyerbeer.



In 1956, Jan Peerce became the first American to sing with the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow, during a "cultural exchange" He remained on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera until 1966 .


In 1971, he made his Broadway debut as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof". He died in 1984 at age 80 and is buried in Mount Eden Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. The final selection is "Nessun Dorma" from Turnandot.


Nessun Dorma from Turandot



To visit my complete list of the world’s best tenors along with limited biographical information and links to their individual Hubs, go to:

The Worlds Greatest Tenors


Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn, New York where Jan Peerce was born

Jan Peerce Recordings


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      5 years ago


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and beautiful - mostly about the music. Thanks for this interesting hub and for educating ?veryone on the World's greatest tenors.Passing it on for other music lovers.


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