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Robert Radford (1874 - 1933)

Radford, who was active both as a singer and as a pianist as a child, decided on the advice of the conductor Alberto Randegger to study singing rather than accountancy. He enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was taught by Randegger and Frederick King. As was the case with many English singers of the period, his early career was focused upon oratorio and concert singing, although his stature and natural dramatic flair also indicated great operatic potential.

He made his professional debut as a singer at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in 1899 as Brander / The Damnation of Faust and sang in Sullivan’s The Martyr of Antioch at a Queen’s Hall Promenade concert in 1900. In the same year Henry Wood engaged him to sing in Tannhäuser at Nottingham, a performance at which the Venusberg scene was included for the first time in England. Radford was a soloist in Wood’s Trafalgar Day Centenary Concert of 1905, when the first performance of Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs took place, and in 1906 was appointed principal bass for the Crystal Palace Handel Festival concerts, remaining so until the 1920s. He sang frequently with the major regional choral societies of the day (then significant institutions) such as the Leeds, Sheffield and Three Choirs Festival Choruses.




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