Jan Peerce


Jan Peerce (birth name Jacob Pincus Perelmuth) was born in New York City in 1904. Peerce’s first instrument was the violin, beginning his performance career as a violinist for an NYC dance band. In 1933, he was offered a long-term contract as a singer at Radio City Music Hall, New York. The exposure Peerce received from regular radio broadcasts of RadioCityMusic Hall performances won him recognition as a gifted performer of classical songs and operatic arias. He made his operatic debut in May of 1938 in Philadelphia as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. Conductor Arturo Toscanini was particularly impressed by Peerce’s vocal talent, and shortly after his debut in 1938, Toscanini invited Peerce to sing with the NBC (National Broadcasting Company) Symphony Orchestra. This engagement catapulted Peerce’s operatic career, and in 1941 he landed the leading tenor role in Verdi’s La Traviata staged by the New York City Metropolitan Opera. He continued to perform with the Metropolitan Opera until 1966, singing leading roles in Tosca, La Bohème, Faust and many more. In 1956, under the auspices of the U.S. State Department, Peerce served as a cultural ambassador to Moscow and was the first American to perform with the Bolshoi Theatre Opera. Peerce was also involved in NYC Jewish musical life, making regular appearances as a guest cantor in local synagogues and in cantorial concerts. Peerce also made several recordings of cantorial works and Jewish folksongs. 

Jan Peerce, "Kol Nidre"