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Georg Koen

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Information about Georg Koen

Profile image of Georg Koen

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Lieder Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Yellow
Favorite Food:
Beef Wellington, Bread, Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Yugoslavia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/4/1934
Birth Location:
Memphis, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Lieder Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Yellow
Favorite Food:
Beef Wellington, Bread, Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Yugoslavia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/4/1934
Birth Location:
Memphis
See how Georg Koen is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Internationally acclaimed lieder singer Georg Koen was born on April 4, 1934 in Memphis, Tennessee. His interest in singing and performing began in the sixth grade. His mother died when he was twelve and Koen went to live with his maternal aunt. He began performing with The Teen Town Singers, a group of young people who sang on WDIA radio in Memphis. While performing with this group, a representative from Rust College High School in Holly Springs, Mississippi offered him a full scholarship. Koen traveled throughout the Midwest performing and earned his diploma in 1951.

From 1952 until 1954, Koen studied music at the University of North Dakota. Drafted into the United States Army, he performed in the televised U.S. Army chorus production of Get Set Go. Koen also performed with the U.S. Army concert band in Germany. In 1958, he made his European debut as a lieder singer and toured throughout Germany. In 1960, Koen was invited by Princess Margaretha of Denmark to perform at her annual society charity ball.

Koen’s singing abilities earned him audiences in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Yugoslavia. In 1962, he became the first American artist since World War II invited to perform in Bulgaria. From 1962 until 1971, Koen continued his European success, performing in Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin and Turkey. Although he was a well-known concert, television and radio performer, he was unable to achieve the same notoriety in the United States because of his race. In 1976, Koen received critical acclaim for a lieder recital in Norway. This was his final performance.

After he retired, he formed a banking analysis company called Corporate Computer Services which provides banking consulting services for high-profile clients including CBS, Club Med, Newsweek Magazine and Sterling Optical.

See how Georg Koen is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Georg Koen's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Georg Koen lists his favorite things
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Georg Koen describes his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Georg Koen describes his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Georg Koen describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Georg Koen describes his maternal and paternal ancestry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Georg Koen describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Georg Koen describes childhood holidays in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Georg Koen describes his childhood neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Georg Koen describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Georg Koen describes being raised by his maternal aunt
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Georg Koen remembers how his interest in music first developed
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Georg Koen describes his experiences at Gladstone Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Georg Koen remembers his elementary school aspirations and influences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Georg Koen describes his childhood activities and friends
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Georg Koen talks about his childhood musical interests and influences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Georg Koen recalls his mother's death and its impact on him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Georg Koen describes his experience at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Georg Koen describes attending University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Georg Koen talks about studying music and dramatic arts in New York, New York from 1954 to 1956
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Georg Koen remembers performing on the U.S. Army's television show 'Get Set, Go' in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Georg Koen talks about his musical experiences while stationed with the U.S. Army in Munich, Germany
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Georg Koen talks about his musical studies in Europe and performance tour of Yugoslavia in 1960
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Georg Koen describes performing at the charity event Gentofte Bornevenner Friends of Children for Princess Margaret of Denmark
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Georg Koen talks about the professional discrimination he encountered in the U.S. compared to Europe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Georg Koen describes being featured on a Norwegian television program in 1961
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Georg Koen talks about living in Europe as an African American during the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Koen details his experiences performing in Bulgaria in 1962, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Koen details his experiences performing in Bulgaria in 1962, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Georg Koen talks about how he handled the language barrier while living in Europe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Georg Koen remembers giving a highly acclaimed performance in Barcelona, Spain
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Koen recalls his singing engagements following his performance in Barcelona, Spain
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Georg Koen explains the difference between a lieder singer and an opera singer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Georg Koen describes his television performance in Turkey in 1971
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Georg Koen explains his decision to focus on building a career in Europe rather than the United States
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Georg Koen talks about obstacles he encountered as an African American performer returning to the United States in 1967
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Georg Koen talks about performing in Oslo, Norway in the 1970s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Georg Koen talks about the banking analysis business he started after his retirement from singing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Georg Koen talks about changes to the music industry in the 1970s and the challenges of developing a career in Europe as an international singer
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Georg Koen talks about the presence of African Americans in opera in the United States
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Georg Koen shares advice for African Americans aspiring to a career in classical music performance
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Georg Koen reflects upon the increased opportunities for African Americans since he began his career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Georg Koen reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Georg Koen describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Georg Koen describes his family's impression of his career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Georg Koen recalls the theatres he wanted to perform at in Helsingor, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Georg Koen describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Georg Koen talks about the importance of preserving history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Georg Koen talks about his favorite performance in Madrid Spain
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - George Koen reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Georg Koen talks about Hans-Jurgen Massaquoi
  • Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Georg Koen narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Georg Koen narrates his photographs, pt. 2