Johann Berthelsen -White winter in central Park -Oil painting
oil painting on canvas -Signed
He was born in Copenhagen in 1883, the 7th of seven sons, to Conrad and Dorothea Karen Berthelsen. The parents moved in artistic and professional circles. His father was a tenor with the Royal Opera and his mother was a nurse affiliated with a prominent physician. A year before Johann's birth, his parents visited the United States, but the marriage was in trouble and they returned to Denmark to divorce. In 1890, his mother brought the children to America, settling in Manistee, Michigan, with her sister's family. They would eventually live in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a city on the shore of Lake Michigan.As a teenager, Johann was actively involved in choirs and singing groups. And always, he loved to draw and paint. Though obviously intelligent and curious, he was too impatient to take well to schoolwork and never went beyond the 5th grade. It was not uncommon for boys to start working at an early age, and Johann tried several careers with mixed results.Although he worked at several trades, Johann's mind and heart were always with the arts. As his voice matured, his always pleasant sound evolved into a rich and powerful baritone. Having always wanted to be an actor, at the age of 18, the young man moved to Chicago where he reconnected with an old friend who was studying voice at the Chicago Musical College. When he mentioned his theatrical ambitions, his friend laughed. "With your voice, you should be studying singing," he said. Eventually, he convinced Johann to audition at the Chicago Musical College, owned and operated by Broadway producers, Flo and Willie Ziegfeld. Willie auditioned young Berthelsen and, on the spot, offered him a full scholarship.He was awarded the school's Gold Medal on two occasions, and after graduation he earned a job as the lead baritone with the newly formed Standard Opera Company which was owned by the Schuberts.For the next five years, Johann Berthelsen enjoyed a rich and varied career, touring the U.S. and Canada in operas, concerts, Gilbert & Sullivan, and operettas.