September 23 in Swedish History
1885: twenty people are being trampled to death in the panic that occurs when Swedish opera singer Kristina Nilsson (1843-1921) sings from a balcony at the Grand Hôtel in Stockholm. Nilsson, who is also known as Christina Nilsson, was born near Växjö in Småland into a peasant family. She taught herself to play the violin and flute; she also sang and was discovered while singing at a fair. She studied with Franz Berwald, and went on to have an international career, singing at major opera houses in London, Saint Petersburg, Vienna and New York.

Nilsson was married twice—first to French banker Auguste Rouzaud, and later to Spaniard Angel Ramon Maria Vallejo y Miranda, Count de Casa Miranda, which made Nilsson Countess de Casa Miranda. Nilsson died in Växjö in 1921, and unfortunately there are no gramophone recordings of her voice.


By the way, did you know that there are many similarities between Kristina Nilsson and the character Christine Daaé in Gaston Leroux’s novel “Phantom of the Opera,” and that many people believe Leroux actually based the character on the Swedish opera singer? Nilsson is also mentioned in two major literary works: Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”