In praise of … Kathleen Ferrier | Editorial

The Lancashire contralto was the most beautiful of all English singers of her time, beautiful of voice and musical expression

A century after her birth in April 1912 and now nearly 60 years after her death, an incomparable sense of public loss and love still attach to the memory of Kathleen Ferrier. Writing in this paper when Ferrier died from breast cancer in 1953 aged 41, Neville Cardus called the Lancashire contralto the most beautiful of all English singers of her time, beautiful of voice and musical expression, and beautiful to look at too. The decades have done little to wither that widely shared judgment. Ferrier was, Cardus wrote, a singer of classic dignity and seriousness whose gifts and artistry enabled her to create some of the most moving musical experiences of his lifetime. Those who heard or knew Ferrier are few now. But the recordings which she left behind – today the arias from the St Matthew Passion inevitably come to mind – still convey the unforced humanity of the voice and something of the personality that gave it, all too briefly, to the world.


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Kathleen Ferrier: The Complete EMI Recordings – review
Test recordings sit alongside her famous performances of Mahler and Gluck on a centenary disc reminding us of the late, great contralto's ability to move her listeners, writes Nicholas Kenyon

Nicholas Kenyon

14, Apr, 2012 @11:05 PM

Article image
Kathleen Ferrier - remembering one true voice

Just a single phrase of Kathleen Ferrier's singing reveals a voice of extraordinary power and expression. She's still an inspiration, nearly 60 years after her tragically early death, writes Tom Service

Tom Service

12, Apr, 2012 @10:06 AM

Article image
Tidemarks, turtles and touring: Kathleen Ferrier in her own words
A new play tells the story of Kathleen Ferrier, using the singers’ own letters and diaries. Lucy Stevens explains how she brought a down-to-earth icon to the stage

Lucy Stevens

29, Sep, 2016 @5:40 PM

In praise of … Stephen Sondheim | Editorial
Editorial: A well deserved lifetime achievement award from Critics Circle for the foremost composer-lyricist of his generation


08, Mar, 2012 @11:25 PM

In praise of … Havergal Brian | Editorial
Editorial: His Gothic Symphony is the ultimate cult neglected work by a British composer forgotten by all but the fanatical few


08, May, 2011 @11:06 PM

In praise of … George Hurst | Editorial
Editorial: He kept the musical flame alive and nurtured this country's orchestras through some tough times


18, Sep, 2012 @10:42 PM

In praise of … a composer laureate | Editorial
Editorial: Monarchical indifference has left what could be a useful national post – the master of the Queen's music – high and dry


08, Jan, 2014 @1:12 AM

In praise of … the Royal Philharmonic Society | Editorial
Editorial: Musical organisation is celebrating its bicentenary by doing what it does best: encouraging composers to compose and performers to perform


24, Jan, 2013 @9:37 PM

Editorial: In praise of ... Marin Alsop

Editorial: A salute to a musician who has exhilarated the nation's musical life


03, Jul, 2008 @11:01 PM

In praise of … Stefan Dohr | Editorial
Editorial: It has been hard to miss the imposing artistic presence of the Berliner Philharmoniker's principal horn player


23, Feb, 2011 @12:03 AM