Kathleen Ferrier

Biography

Born: April 22, 1912; Higher Walton, Lancashire, England   Died: October 8, 1953; London, England  
Although her career was tragically short, Kathleen Ferrier was among the most famous English singers of the twentieth century. Her contralto voice -- a rarity in itself -- was characterized by a firm, warm tone that found its expressive niche in the great works of oratorio and art song, as well as in her two operatic roles (only two!): Lucretia in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

Born in Lancashire on
Read more April 22, 1912, Ferrier studied the piano with great success as a child and intended a concert career; her concurrent vocal studies were considered more recreational in nature. In her mid-20s, however, after taking two first prizes at the 1937 Carlisle Festival -- one for piano and one for singing -- she made the decision to pursue singing as her vocation. She studied with J.E. Hutchinson in Newcastle upon Tyne, then with Roy Henderson in London.

During the years of WWII Ferrier toured widely in England, gaining a reputation as an especially fine concert artist. She joined the Bach Choir in London, and was alto soloist for a 1943 performance of Handel's Messiah at Westminster Abbey. Benjamin Britten first put her on the operatic stage at Glyndebourne on July 12, 1946, in the premiere of his chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia. She then toured with the work throughout England and appeared on an historic recording of major extracts from the work conducted by the composer. Britten would later compose the alto part in his Canticle No. 2 for her.

She appeared in the United States for the first time in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the New York Philharmonic and Bruno Walter; her subsequent recording of the work -- also under Walter's direction -- remains a classic. Walter also appeared as her accompanist in lieder recitals in Edinburgh and London. Another of Ferrier's notable successes was the part of the Angel in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.

In February 1953, Covent Garden staged Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice specifically for Ferrier, who was deemed ideal for the part of Orpheus. However, she was able to appear in only two of the scheduled four performances because of weakness caused by her already advanced cancer. These were her last appearances; she died in London on October 8, 1953. Before she died she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Read less
Browse 51-67 of 67 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Legendary Opera Duets
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8001 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Herva Nelli,  Ramon Vinay,  Lawrence Tibbett,  Rose Bampton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 52.
    Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde / Ferrier, Walter, Et Al
    Label: London/Decca Legends   Catalog: 466576 Release Date: 11/14/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Julius Patzak
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 53.
    Bach: Mass In B Minor, Etc / Karajan, Schwarzkopf, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics Références   Catalog: 67207 Release Date: 01/11/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Nicolai Gedda,  Marga Höffgen  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Friends of Music Society Chorus  ... 
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  • 54.
    Mahler: Kindertotenlieder; Purcell / Kathleen Ferrier, Bruno Walter
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 66963 Release Date: 03/09/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Maurice Greene,  George Frideric Handel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Gerald Moore,  Isobel Baillie
    Conductor:  Charles Bruck,  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Orchestra,  Netherlands Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 55.
    Lieder Von Franz Schubert In Historischen Aufnahmen
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89231 Release Date: 07/21/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Coenraad Bos,  Elena Gerhardt,  Franz Rupp,  Rosette Anday  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lasowski String Quartet
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  • 56.
    Operatic Arias (1911-1949)
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7864 Release Date: 05/19/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Traditional,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Titta Ruffo,  Maria Callas,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Lauritz Melchior  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Sabino,  Eugene Ormandy,  Gustav Cloëz,  Angelo Albergoni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Orchestra
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  • 57.
    To Music / Isobel Baillie & Kathleen Ferrier
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 5544 Release Date: 03/18/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  George Frideric Handel,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Maurice Greene  ... 
    Performer:  Gerald Moore,  Isobel Baillie,  Kathleen Ferrier
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  • 58.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 1- Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433468 Release Date: 06/16/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Ann Ayars,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Zoe Vlachopoulos
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus,  Southern Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 59.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 2- Bach: St Matthew Passion
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433469 Release Date: 06/16/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Elsie Suddaby,  Eric Greene,  Kathleen Ferrier,  William Parsons
    Conductor:  Reginald Jacques
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Orchestra,  Bach Choir
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  • 60.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 7- Bach, Handel
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433474 Release Date: 06/16/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 61.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 8 - Blow The Wind Southerly
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433475 Release Date: 06/16/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Johnson,  Traditional,  Ivor Gurney,  Hugh Robertson  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Phyllis Spurr,  John Newmark
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  • 62.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 10 - Brahms, Mahler
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433477 Release Date: 04/01/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss,  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 63.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 3 - Gluck, Handel, Bach
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433470 Release Date: 04/01/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi,  Felix Mendelssohn,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Reginald Jacques,  Roy Henderson,  Boyd Neel,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Orchestra,  Boyd Neel String Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 64.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 4 - Schumann, Brahms, Schubert
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433471 Release Date: 04/01/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Xaver Gruber  ... 
    Performer:  Phyllis Spurr,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Benjamin Britten
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  • 65.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 9 - Schubert, Brahms, Schumann
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433476 Release Date: 04/01/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Bruno Walter
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  • 66.
    Mahler: Kindertotenlieder; Brahms: Liebeslieder Walzer / Ferrier
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 425995 Release Date: 01/01/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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