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Marni Nixon to Receive Peadbody Medal

May 12, 2011 10:24PM ● Published by Anonymous

The medal will be presented on May 26 in Baltimore at the Peabody Institute’s graduation ceremony. One of the world’s most highly regarded music schools, the Peabody Institute is a division of The Johns Hopkins University.

Though “no credit” clauses in her movie contracts delayed her public recognition, Nixon sang for Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956), Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961), and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964). Time magazine called her “the Ghostess with the Mostess.” “Marni Nixon is most famous for her marvelous playback singing in films known to all,” said Peabody Institute Director Jeffrey Sharkey. “But singers of classical music have also long admired her
performances of works by Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and other émigré composers, with whom she was closely associated.”

Nixon’s connections to the 20th-century modernists began at Los Angeles City College, where she studied piano with Leonard Stein, a pupil and assistant of Arnold Schoenberg. (Stein later became the director of the Schoenberg Institute.) Her vocal gifts and superior musicianship made her a favored interpreter of the works of Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Ernst Krenek, among others.

Calling Nixon “a true daughter of the City of Angels,” the citation states: “Countless teachers and students of voice have found inspiration in your exceptionally varied career, which has extended to opera, Broadway, film, television, and singing-sidekick work with Liberace and Victor Borge.”

Nixon, 81, continues to perform. Her varied career, recounted in the 2006 memoir I Could Have Sung All Night, will itself be the subject of a new one-woman show, Mostly Marni Nixon. A cabaret conceived and directed by Wendy Taucher, Mostly Marni Nixon will premiere at the New York nightclub Feinstein’s at Loews Regency in April 2012.

In addition to receiving the medal, Nixon will speak at Peabody’s graduation ceremony, which is not open to the public.

The George Peabody Medal has been presented since 1980, when the awardees were Leonard Bernstein, Eubie Blake, and John Brademas. Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser received the medal in 2009 and composer Libby Larsen and conductor James Levine in 2010.


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