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
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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
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WORKS ALBUMS
TITLE/COMPOSER
LABEL
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Wenn dein Mütterlein, tritt zur Tür herein
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen!
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus
Kyrie eleison (Chorus)
Christe eleison (Soprano 1 and 2)
Kyrie eleison (Chorus)
Gloria in excelsis Deo (Chorus)
Laudamus te (Soprano 2)
Gratias agimus tibi (Chorus)
Domine Deus (Soprano 1, Tenor)
Qui tollis peccata mundi (Chorus)
Qui sedes ad dextram Patris (Alto)
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus (Bass) - Cum Sancto Spiritu (Chorus)
Credo in unum Deum (Chorus)
Patrem omnipotentem (Chorus)
Et in unum Dominum (Soprano 1, Alto)
Et incarnatus est (Chorus)
Crucifixus (Chorus) - Et resurrexit terita die (Chorus)
Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum (Bass)
Confiteor unum baptisma (Chorus)
Sanctus (Chorus)
Osanna (Double Chorus)
Benedictus (Tenor)
Agnus Dei (Alto)
Dona nobis pacem (Double Chorus)