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Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier


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Fifty years ago, Kathleen Ferrier, the greatest lyric contralto Britain has ever produced, lost her courageous battle with breast cancer. Her name endures to this day, for she struck a chord with a wide-ranging public - in concerts, on records and on the radio - despite a career which lasted barely ten years. Within a decade this former telephone exchange operator was singing on stage at Covent Garden or before royalty at private parties. She was surely fun to know: this collection of 300+ letters and twelve years of her personal diaries give a sunny picture of her life in the muted post-war years.

Her indefinable personality was a mix of extreme modesty and self-determined ambition, and a mischievously blunt sense of earthy Lancastrian humour. Until now, Kathleen Ferrier has been a glorious voice, but through the pages of these fascinating letters and diaries, never previously published, we get to the real person.

CHRISTOPHER FIFIELD is foremost a conductor, but also a writer on music history (Grove, DNB, Viking Opera Guide, Oxford Companion to Music), and the author of two biographies, of Max Bruch (recently reissued by the Boydell Press) and Hans Richter.


Fifty years on, a voice that still touches the heart. GRAMOPHONE

A vivid self-portrait of a brave, secure woman in love with life and music, whose joie de vivre was palpable and supported both by a notable lack of inflated egoism and a singular sense of humour which rarely faltered, even toward the end. Anyone interested in Kathleen Ferrier's life and art, and the milieu of the Second World War years and their aftermath by which they were embraced, will find this welcome book required reading. It is above all, and despite the final descent, a celebration of living. JOHN TALBOT, BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY NEWSLETTER

On closing [this book] with a terrible sadness, I'm a fan too... The secret is her voice - the plain-speaking tone of a Lancashire lass who was also an aesthete, a joker and an exemplary friend. These letters...chronicle everything, from whom she knocked around with - Britten, Pears, Barbirolli, Danny Kaye, Rex Harrison - to what she sang and what she greedily ate. FINANCIAL TIMES [Michael Church]

Delightful letters and diaries. DAILY TELEGRAPH [Rupert Christiansen]
Editing and presentation are as fine as anyone could wish and Fifield's introductions to each chapter could not be better written. CLASSIC FM [Best Buy,5 Stars]


First Published: 07 Jan 2004
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843830122
Pages: 360
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 18 Apr 2016

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