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Kathleen Ferrier – Her Life and Legacy

Memories of Kathleen Ferrier, the Lancashire-born contralto, are still treasured by countless thousands of music lovers, years after her untimely death.

My talk Kathleen Ferrier – Her Life and Legacy recalls her unique qualities as a singer – and as a warm, humorous and down-to-earth northern lass.

Hear Kathleen Ferrrier singing some of her favourite songs: Blow the wind southerly, What is life? and others less familiar.  Learn about her childhood and her climb to fame during the dark days of the second world war, her international success and friendship with the world’s greatest musicians.

When writing my book I made an exciting discovery of several of Kathleen’s recordings which had lain forgotten and unpublished. Fortunately some of these have now been issued on CD for all to enjoy.

Research for the newly updated edition of my discography Ferrier – A Career Recorded has revealed yet more new ‘unknown’ recordings. These include performances conducted by Sir John Barbirolli and Bruno Walter, both of whom were valued colleagues and friends of Ferrier herself.

The Kathleen Ferrier Society was founded in 1993, with the singer’s sister Winifred as first President. The Society promotes interest in Ferrier’s life and career and every year organises a Singing Bursary in Blackburn, Lancashire, for young singers at British Conservatoires. The Society also has information on associated events, books and recordings.

Facts about Kathleen Ferrier

  • Kathleen Ferrier was born in Lancashire in 1912.
  • She was a most accomplished pianist and for years considered her singing just as a secondary interest.
  • She moved to London from Cumberland in 1942 on the advice of the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent.
  • It was in 1944 that Kathleen made her first records.
  • She loved painting, always signing her pictures KK – an abbreviation for Klever Kaff!
  • Kathleen’s last performance was at Covent Garden, London in 1953 in Gluck’s opera ‘Orfeo’.