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Kathleen Ferrier (1912 - 1953)

Kathleen Ferrier’s father was a schoolteacher and a keen amateur musician, while her mother was a capable singer. She showed great early talent as a pianist and was taught by Frances Walker, herself a pupil of Tobias Matthay. Despite her musical promise however, family circumstances decreed that from 1926 she should train as a telephonist rather than as a musician. Ferrier continued with the piano however, winning several regional competitions, broadcasting for the BBC in 1930, and being awarded her Royal Academy of Music Licentiate (diploma) in 1931—the year in which she began to take singing lessons. Several years later, as a result of a domestic bet, she entered the vocal section of the 1937 Carlisle Festival alongside that for piano, and won both.

After this Ferrier was quickly offered further work as a singer and in 1938 was heard by a BBC producer who offered her a broadcast from Newcastle in February 1939 which gained wide attention. At the 1939 Carlisle Festival she was heard by the singing teacher and conductor J. E. Hutchinson, who took her on as a pupil and helped to extend her repertoire to include Bach, Handel, Brahms and Elgar. In 1940 she sang in a performance of Handel’s Messiah conducted by Hutchinson and during the following year, after successfully auditioning for CEMA (which arranged concerts for troops) Ferrier began to work with musicians of international reputation.



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