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In 1943 Marian Anderson and her husband Orpheus Fisher bought a farm on Joe’s Hill Road in Danbury.
They named their property Marianna Farm and remained there for many years. Mr Fisher, an architect, designed and had this studio built for his wife--a private place where she could sing and rehearse.
After her husband’s death in 1986, Ms Anderson continued to live at Marianna Farm until 1992, a year before her death in 1993.
In 1993 the Studio was donated to the Danbury Museum and it was rehabilitated and opened to the public in 2005.
Marian and her husband, Orpheus "King" Fisher, made their home at Marianna Farm in Danbury for nearly 50 years.
Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1897. She used her magnificent contralto voice to enrich American culture and her strength of character to overcome the blight of prejudice. Although her early musical training was sporadic because her family lacked resources, a scholarship enabled her to study abroad under distinguished teachers.
When Arturo Toscanini heard her perform at the Salzburg festival in 1935, the maestro was so impressed that he said to her: "A voice like yours is heard only once in a hundred years." After gaining international prominence, she returned to America to give 70 recitals during 1938. When she was denied the opportunity to perform in Constitution Hall in 1939, she triumphed over adversity to sing before a crowd of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. Not until 1955 did Marian Anderson--by then, 58 years old--break the color barrier at the Metropolitan Opera house.
Shortly before her career ended a decade later, she sang at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy. As an African-American who overcame adversity to achieve renown, Marian Anderson embodied the civil rights movement. However, this aspect of her life should not overshadow her stature as a performer. Musical experts, noting the uniqueness of her vocal qualities, have acclaimed her to be one of the greatest contraltos of the Twentieth century. She developed a wide repertoire ranging from the spirituals of her black culture to the songs of Bach and Brahms to the folk music of Scandinavia. (Mermelstein, David. "Two Marian Andersons, Both of Them Real." New York Times, 23 Feb. 1997.)
On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang before tens of thousands of people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
As part of the Danbury Museum's #DigitalDanbury initiative and to commemorate Ms Anderson's famous concert, we've scanned and uploaded the museum's subject file holdings that relate to Marian Anderson's life in Danbury and beyond.
A roundtable discussion of Marian Anderson's Danbury years with citizens who knew her sharing their memories. This is a three-part conversation that continues on our YouTube page.