John Shirley-Quirk

Biography

Born: August 28, 1931; Liverpool, England   Died: April 7; Bath, England  
English baritone John Shirley-Quirk enjoyed singing and playing the violin as a child, but his true vocal talent did not become apparent until he was already studying chemistry and physics at the University of Liverpool. After several years of teaching those subjects at a British Air Force station, he began to study with the baritone Roy Henderson (1957). In 1961-1962, he sang with the Cathedral Choir at St. John's in London; during the same time Read more he made his debut at Glydebourne in 1961 as Gregor Mittenhofer in Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers.

In 1963, Benjamin Britten recruited him to join his English Opera Group; with that group he sang the premiere performances of Britten's Curlew River, The Burning Fiery Furnace, The Prodigal Son, Owen Wingrave, and Death in Venice (between 1964 and 1973). During that time, he also sang Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and, later, Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande at the Scottish National Opera. He created the role of Lev in Tippett's The Ice Break at Covent Garden in 1977.

Though his career centered around British venues and the music of English composers, Shirley-Quirk's career was by no means provincial. He sang his first performances of Wozzeck in St. Louis, and debuted in Berlin with Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle in 1969. Milan's Teatro alla Scala engaged him as Rangoni in Boris Godunov, and in 1974 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Britten's Death in Venice. Other important roles in his career were the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte and the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos.

Shirley-Quirk had equal success as a recital and concert singer. He was highly regarded for his interpretation of the major choral works of Bach and Elgar and sang Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn on many concerts in Europe, North America, and Australia. His recitals usually included songs by his mentor Benjamin Britten as well as those of Vaughan Williams and Butterworth.

John Shirley-Quirk's lyric baritone voice, while not large, commanded a wide dynamic and expressive range; he had a wonderful sense of phrasing. It was as an interpreter that he was best known; his intellectual curiousity allowed him to explore the inner world of the works he sang. His recordings, particularly of the works of Benjamin Britten, document his fine artistry. In 1975 he was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Read less
Elgar: The Light Of Life / Hickox, Howarth, Finnie, Davies, Shirley-Quirk, LSO
Release Date: 07/31/2012   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10726   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 170 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Argo Years / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St Martin In The Fields [28-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002081902 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Giuseppe Torelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gwynne Howell,  Philip Langridge,  Anna Reynolds,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
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  • 2.
    Handel: Messiah / Harper, Watts, Davis [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002009546 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  Helen Watts,  John Shirley-Quirk,  John Wakefield
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Richard Strauss: Complete Operas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002013902 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Cäcilie Reich,  Eva Maria Rogner,  Ira Malaniuk  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
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  • 4.
    Mahler: Symphony No 8 / Solti, Chicago [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001993346 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  Arleen Augér,  Yvonne Minton,  Helen Watts  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Boys' Choir  ... 
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  • 5.
    Carlo Maria Giulini: The London Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 93739 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Benjamin Britten,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Sheila Armstrong,  Anna Reynolds,  Robert Tear,  John Shirley-Quirk
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    Decca Sound - The Analogue Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001934702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 54
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Anton Bruckner,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Marilyn Horne,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Georg Solti,  Bernard Haitink,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Britten The Performer - Complete Decca Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922102 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Henry Purcell,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Adrian Thompson,  John Tobin,  Jenny Hill,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  Wandsworth School Choir  ... 
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  • 8.
    Berlioz: Complete Orchestral & Sacred Works / Colin Davis
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4804868 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Nobuko Imai,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Patricia Kern,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 9.
    Elgar: Complete EMI Recordings / Sir Adrian Boult
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 35922 Release Date: 07/02/2013   Number of Discs: 19
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Pablo Casals,  Paul Tortelier,  Ida Haendel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir Philip Ledger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Archiv Produktion 1947-2013
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001833572 Release Date: 06/18/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anonymous,  Adam de la Halle,  Raimbaut de Vaqeiras  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Hermann Töttcher,  Maria Jung  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Ristenpart,  Fritz Lehmann,  Maurus Pfaff,  Safford Cape  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karl Ristenpart Chamber Orchestra,  Bach Festival Orchestra,  Frankfurt Music School Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 11.
    Britten: Gloriana / Barstow, Jones, Langridge, Opie, Summer, Mackerras, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001820602 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Philip Langridge,  Della Jones,  Jonathan Summers,  Bryn Terfel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Welsh National Opera Chorus,  Welsh National Opera Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Ashkenazy - 50 Years on Decca
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001820202 Release Date: 04/02/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Boris Belkin,  Daniel Barenboim,  Fou Ts'ong  ... 
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Lorin Maazel,  Uri Segal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Wind Soloists  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 13.
    Vaughan Williams: Complete EMI Recordings / Boult
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 35672 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Sheila Armstrong,  John Carol Case,  Norma Burrowes,  Hugh Bean  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Schoenberg
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5429572 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Siegmund Nimsgern,  Kenneth Bowen,  Ian Partridge,  Paul Hudson  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Singers,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 15.
    The Art Of Sir Georg Solti
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 1037609 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Zoltán Kodály,  Leó Weiner,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Alexandru Agache,  Tamás Daróczy,  Julia Varády,  Iris Vermillion  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Hungarian Radio/TV Chorus,  Budapest Festival Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 16.
    Essential Choral
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234422 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Robert Tear,  Peter Barley  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir David Willcocks,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 17.
    Elgar: The Light Of Life / Hickox, Howarth, Finnie, Davies, Shirley-Quirk, LSO
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10726 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Linda Finnie,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Judith Howarth,  Arthur Davies
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
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  • 18.
    Wolf: Italienisches Lieder / Baker, Shirley-quirk, Bedford
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5076 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Wolf
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Steuart Bedford
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  • 19.
    Boulez Conducts Stravinsky
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001660502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Hugo Wolf
    Performer:  Christopher Hanulik,  Franklin Cohen,  David McGill,  Michael Sachs  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 20.
    Magnificat - 500 Years Of Choral Masterworks [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001664502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Lotti,  Orlando de Lassus,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Russill,  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers,  Paul McCreesh,  Stephen Cleobury,  Edward Wickham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Gabrieli Consort,  Gabrieli Players  ... 
    CD: $179.99
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  • 21.
    The Very Best Of English Song
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80513 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  John Ireland,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Roger Quilter  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Gerald Moore,  Thomas Allen,  Geoffrey Parsons  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Simon Rattle,  Steuart Bedford  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Fretwork,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 22.
    Vaughan Williams: The Pilgrim's Progress / Boult, Noble, Burrowes, Partridge
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29126 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  John Noble,  Christopher Keyte,  Robert Lloyd,  John Carol Case  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir
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  • 23.
    Walton: Symphonies 1 & 2, Violin Concerto, Viola Concerto / Previn, Sargent,  Fremaux, Walton
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80501 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Sir William Walton
    Performer:  Nigel Kennedy,  Richard Lewis,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Marie Collier  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  André Previn,  Sir William Walton,  Louis Frémaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 24.
    Delius - 150th Anniversary Edition [18-CDs]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0841752 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Frederick Delius
    Performer:  Piers Lane,  John Noble,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Vernon Handley,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 25.
    Essential Delius - 150th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0842102 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frederick Delius
    Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley,  Richard Hickox,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Sir Malcolm Sargent  ... 
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