THE LIFE OF GUN KRONZELL-MOULTON (1930 - 2011)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
The life and career of one of Sweden's finest opera-exports to the world: Gun Kronzell.

Submitted: July 05, 2013

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Submitted: July 05, 2013

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My mother Gun Margareta Kronzell was born in Kalmar, Sweden on July 6th 1930. Early on, she showed a passionate interest in music, playing the main part in the school play“Santa’s Smallest Helper”. She also danced ballet to the sounds of “The Blue Danube Waltz”. After her debut as a singer in 1949 in the Cathedral of Kalmar, she studied for Ernst Reichert in Salzburg and legendary Russian Madame Skilonsz in Stockholm. Ragnar Hultén gave her a vibrant volume of the voice and nevertheless Skilonsz perfected her technique. Sebastian Peschko worked meticulously on every single consonant and vowel and Lohmann worked on her line. As soon as she was awarded Norway’s Rudd Foundation Scholarship by Kirsten Flagstad, she moved to Wiesbaden and studied for Paul Lohmann. He had lost an arm in the war. However, he compensated his bodily handicap with his skills as a singer. It gave him the greatest flexibility. He would work with her meticulously on every note and every single letter of the alphabet. After the Opera Wiesbaden, she moved to Bielefeld and still speaks of this place as her greatest career experience. She here got to sing the greatest roles: Dorabella, Asucena, Abigail, Eboli and Santuzza. She in actuality got into her own as a prominent character-actress and brilliant mezzo-soprano. The media discovered her talents and she began attaining truly first-class critiques. She also had a great deal of success singing oratories and concert music, among other in the London Festival Hall and in the Vienna Stephan’s Cathedral, in Paris and in the Netherlands. Working simultaneously at a home for mentally ill children was a wonderful change. The children gave her the reality check she needed. After that came engagements in Augsburg, London, Recklinghausen, Köln, Essen, Lübeck, Berlin, Vienna and Regensburg. Her great reviews became legendary and people spoke of Gun Kronzell as one of the fresh principal mezzos of Germany. Hannover was a bright professional position for her. From here she guested all over the country. By now she had sung most of the great roles: Erda in Rheingold, Kundry in Parsifal, Ortrud in Lohingrin, Brünhilde in The Ring, Adriano in Rienzi, Brangaene in Tristan und Isolde, Emilia in Othello, Eboli in Don Carlos, Dame Quickly in Falstaff, Abigaille in Nabucco, Czipra in Zigeunerbaron, The Innkeeper in Boris Gudonov, Chiwria in The Fair at Sorotchinzk, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Asucena in Trovatore, the mother in Hänsel and Gretel, Orpheo in Orpheo ed Euridice, the leading part in Antigone, Ludmilla in The Bartered Bride, The Countess and Madelon in Andrea Chenier, The Old Woman in Die Doppelgängerin, Begonia in Der Junge Lord and Ulrika in A Masked Ball. To this was added a wide range of recitals and church concerts and a huge repertoire of almost any composer imaginable. She became a vast Bach-specialist. All of the Bach oratories were sung in most of the continental cathedrals. Furthermore, Gun Kronzell’s knowledge of Brahms, Copland and Gershwin was astounding. Her fantastic interpretation of songs like “Did they shut me out of heaven, did I sing too loud?” or “My Man’s Gone Now” was a feast for the ears. Meeting the famous Gun Kronzell was elation to Herb. He loved opera and soon became her biggest fan. They bought an old Renault that they named Monsieur Hulot, named after the Jacques Tati character. What really grew successful was their musical collaboration. Soon enough, they became Astaire & Rogers and Kelly & Crosby and were rarely seen apart. I grew up attending their concerts. They were marvellous together. That collaboration began in 1966. Gun and Herb married in Bad Godersberg in 1966. My father taught my mother everything he knew about musical comedy. Together, they performed in the Hannover Opera House in operas such as Der Rosenkavalier and Zar und Zimmermann. Their long collaboration as the singing couple brought them not only European tours, but also American concerts. In Ireland, my parents performed on Irish television in a talk show between a Russian spy and a prize winning cow. I was conceived during this tour. I must’ve heard a great deal of music during my mother’s pregnancy. She was on constantly on stage. We moved to Gothenburg on 1974 and my father kept on being active as an English speaking actor. Commercials, movies and plays kept on being his forte. Kemp in Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane, the major part in Sweeney Todd, plays by Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill as well as melodramas became part of his resumé. He played a small part in the movie Firefox, opposite Clint Eastwood. He introduced Tomra’s new can recycler to a Swedish 1984 audience. These were all things that characterized his Swedish years. This and countless concerts with my mother were his professional reality. My mother’s extensive concert experience brought her good reviews and her work in the Ballet Academy gave her wide-ranging attention from the press. She started to come into her own as a singing teacher. It was exactly this experience that brought her three professorships. Tucson, Arizona and Graz, Austria had wanted her, but the lure of the engagement in Vienna was too strong. The teaching try-out here was also the best of all her auditions. By 1984, she had already auditioned in two Austrian cities for a professorship and applied in three American cities. Vienna won the personal award and so the family moved there. This was the start of a 26 year stay in the city where she sang over 200 concerts and taught students that eventually would work with the likes of Pavarotti. Her students would eventually end up singing at the Vienna State Opera, in Bern, Zurich, Cairo, St. Petersburg, Malmö, London, New York, Örebro, Växjö, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen and Stockholm. Her student Judith was Luciano Pavarotti’s personal assistant for eight years. This gave us all intimate contact with the master and free tickets for many of his galas. Many opera stars like June Andersson, Nicolai Gedda, Claudio Abbado, Ricardo Muti, Per Grundén and Ingvar Wixell became acquaintances of ours through Luciano, if they hadn’t been so before. Gedda was an old friend of my parents from when my dad had worked in Ireland. When we met him again in Vienna in the 1980’s he told my father: “We are older today, but we are still gorgeous.” Gedda was kind enough to train a tenor student of my mother’s for free before he left Vienna as a service of gratitude for my mother. This time, it was real renaissance for my father’s career. Commercials without end made him a familiar face in Vienna: banks like Länderbank, wine areas like Niederösterreich, cheese brands like Schärdinger, music video producers in the vein of Doro, chocolate brands like Milka, magazines like Kronen Zeitung: they all carried Herb Moulton as a familiar face. My father became famous as the Milka-Tender-Man, making commercials for a delicious brand of chocolate that still exists twenty years later. He was even recognized in the sauna. Imagine the fun the old senior citizens in the local pool had when they told my dad that they saw had seen him on TV yesterday. Of course, these bookies and bakers thought he was just doing it for fun. Little did they know that this was the end of a glorious career of five decades as an actor. He had made movies with the likes of Zsa-Zsa Gabor, Alan Rickman, Jeroen Krabbé, Mickey Rourke, Audrey Landers, David Warner and Roger Spottiswoode. In 1998, she retired from the academy, but kept on performing actively until and after she moved to Gelsenkirchen in 2010 closer to me and my family. My mother died in 2011 and left a vast gap behind her. I know that she is happy with my father in heaven. My daughter speaks of her grandmother as her own personal guardian angel. I know in my heart that my parents are happy to see us renovating our new house, hearing me sing and working on my career. After all, they taught me a great deal. What could be better than looking back at a fulfilled life jam packed with glorious artistic bliss? My hats of to my parents. They were extraordinary people.


© Copyright 2019 Charles EJ Moulton. All rights reserved.

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