KATHLEEN FERRIER 1912-1953 // Her voice and spirit gave hope and radiance to the world. And on a day like today I need all the hope and radiance I can get. Following is a brief introduction to her vivacious career, *referencing songs, and download links for the two disk tribute set I got from the l to the ibrary. Most of the information I yoinked directly from the insert written by Paul Campion. Any big words are mine. Any cheery crap is his. Fucking Fridays.

Kathleen Ferrier came to prominence as a singer during and immediately after the Second World War, and was especially remembered for her courageous performances during her fatal illness with breast cancer. From Carlisle to Covent Garden in five years, Kathleen never benefited from having a Conservatoire training. Having a medical anomaly, Kathleen's throat was exceptionally wide providing the unique timbre of her voice. After the outbreak of war, Kathleen was invited to join the Council for the Encouragment of Music and the Arts (CEMA), taking a growing repertory to an unlikely assortment of venues. None of her recorded songs even hint of her humor - with the cabaret songs that she'd perform at parties, laughing at herself. But there is no denying the heartfelt sincerity of the performances and how uniquely dark and eloquent they had become by the time of her death. (*Die Junge Nonne)

It was Bruno Walter who introduced Kathleen to the world of Gustav Mahler. Together the 75 year old composer and 40 year old contralto's performances stands as a touchstone by which more recent performances are judged. Their final collaboration is consecratory. The Vienna Philharmonic play for their lives, knowing that if successful takes were not obtained of these songs, then the opportunity to try again might not present itself; for Kathleen was already suffering considerable pain from the cancer which had been diagnosed the previous year, and she only completed *Um Mitternacht with minutes to spare before the studio had to be vacated.

Seriously ill with breast cancer, which had spread to her bones, she got through the opening night of Orfeo successfully, but at the second performance her left thighbone partly disintegrated. Despite this, she finished the performance, and the audience did not find out that anything unusual had happened. She had to leave the theater on a stretcher. It was her final performance: eight months later she died in London on 8 October 1953, age forty-one. As Bruno Walter wrote shortly afterwards: "So she was in art and life a shining example, and whoever listened to her or met her personally felt enriched and uplifted ... I know she herself would prefer to be remembered and spoken of in a major key". (*Ye Banks And Braes)

Those who saw Kathleen in performance say that recordings can go only partway in recapturing her spirit; but listen to *Der Musensohn. The story is told of a man who had been present at a recital during which Kathleen performed this song, and one day, years later, he was reminiscing to a friend about Kathleen's dancing as she sang it. Dancing you say(yyyyyyyy - whaaaaa)?! Well, no, he admitted, she hadn't actually been dancing, but he defied any listener to hear the song and not see the singer dance in his mind's eye. That is the Ferrier spirit.

Die Junge Nonne
Um Mitternacht
Ye Banks And Braes
Der Musensohn

COMPILATIONS zip / upload jockey
Disk Ein - Kathleen Ferrier, A Tribute
Disk Zwei - Kathleen Ferrier, A Tribute


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