The legendary Nicolai Gedda at 90

Nicolai Gedda "Che gelida manina" La boheme


David Mellor, Sunday 19 July 7pm. This week, David marks a landmark birthday for the most recorded tenor ever.

This week David Mellor pays tribute to the brilliant Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda who turned 90 on 11 July. With some two hundred recordings to his name, Gedda in his heyday was acclaimed the world over for his musical intelligence, and the beauty and control of his voice.

His extraordinary range of recordings included some of the most challenging roles in the entire operatic repertoire. He was singing well into his late 70s, recording the role of the Emperor Altoum in Turandot and the High Priest in Idomeneo by Mozart in 2003. The multi-lingual tenor also had an active parallel career as a recital singer, with an extensive repertoire of French, German, Scandinavian, and Russian songs.

The young Gedda was championed by conductor Herbert von Karajan, who took him to Italy. In 1953, he made his début at La Scala as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. The following year, he made his Paris Opéra debut and was given a permanent contract for several years. In 1957, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Gounod's Faust, and went on to sing 28 roles in New York over the subsequent 26 years.

Also tonight, David takes a look at some of the great music by Robert Schumann, including his Symphony No.1 – the first symphonic work he composed, encouraged by his new bride Clara. Schumann sketched the symphony in four days from 23 to 26 January 1841 and completed the orchestration by 20 February. The premiere took place under the baton of Felix Mendelssohn on 31 March in Leipzig, where the symphony was warmly received.