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date: 20 January 2020

Hyers Sisterslocked

  • Sandra Jean Graham

Extract

Vocal duo. The group comprised soprano Anna Madah (b New York?, NY, 1855; d ?1920s) and alto/tenor Emma Louise (b Sacramento, CA, 1857; d by 1901). Born to Samuel B. and Annie E. Hyers, the musically precocious sisters soon abandoned their parents’ musical tutelage for private study with German music teacher Hugo Sank (vocalization, piano) and opera singer Josephine D’Ormy (Italian and German, enunciation, intonation, stage presence). Shortly after their debut at the ages of 12 and 10 at the Metropolitan Theatre in Sacramento, the parents separated, and their father Samuel managed their careers.

From 1867 to 1876 the sisters devoted themselves to concerts of operatic excerpts, art songs, popular ballads, and, from 1872, spirituals. Arriving in New York in 1871 after a cross-country tour, Samuel formed a concert company around his daughters, engaging tenor Wallace King, baritone John Luca, violinist John Thomas Douglass, and pianist Alexander C. Taylor. Myriad favorable reviews praised Anna’s range and suppleness, Emma’s power, and the sisters’ well-cultured refinement....

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