By Dick Carlson
One of San Diego’s most colorful musical characters was Madame Schumann-Heink, seen above being greeted at the downtown Santa Fe Station in 1918. Her fame was earned on the stages of the Berlin Opera and the Met in New York. She became known as the “Mother of U. S. War Veterans” for her World War I troop entertainment. Ironically, she had sons in both the American and German armies.
Ernestine Schumann-Heink was ungallantly known as the “ugliest woman ever to tread a stage” but her popularity was immense. She held many concerts in San Diego’s Horton Plaza and attracted twenty-eight thousand people to one performance for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Born in 1861, Madame Schumann-Heink continued performing and living in San Diego until her death at seventy-one.
Carrie Jacobs Bond was another famous San Diego musician. As a publisher she expanded her sheet music company from her home in Grossmont to offices in Chicago and New York. Her song “I Love You Truly” is still a romantic favorite.