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Past Images of the Month

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Photograph taken at the first Edinburgh Festival, September 1947.

Photograph taken at the first Edinburgh Festival, September 1947.

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FERRIER, Kathleen (b.Higher Walton, Lancs., 22 April 1912; d.London, 8 October 1953)

The Museum of Music History is privileged to own a substantial correspondence between this great English contralto and the agents Ibbs & Tillett, with whom she came to enjoy a close personal as well as professional relationship. All the Ferrier letters are printed in Christopher Fifield's Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier (revised and enlarged edition, 2011). To celebrate the centenary of her birth this month we are displaying here a small selection of the originals.

Following on from these are six programmes from the final two years of her life.

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

Letter to John Tillett (received 28 February 1945). Two years after Ferrier's death the Etruscan Philharmonic Hall, referred to in this letter, was renamed the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Hall. In 1973 it was demolished to make way for road developments. Letter to John Tillett, 29 March [1946].

Letter to John Tillett, early August 1946.  Apparently written from Manchester, at the start of a tour of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia which had received its world premiere at Glyndebourne on July 12 with Ferrier as Lucretia. This was her first operatic role. Letter to John Tillett, Glyndebourne, late May, 1947.  Written during rehearsals for Gluck's Orfeo. Ferrier sang in a total of 9 performances of this production between June 19 and July 5.

Letter to Emmie Tillett, Amsterdam, 28 June 1949. Ferrier was in the middle of a 4-week tour of Holland, including a run of performances of Orfeo under Pierre Monteux and the premiere of Britten's Spring Symphony.

Letter to Emmie Tillett, 22 June 1951.

Flier for concert at the Royal Albert Hall, 12 October 1951. Programme for Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, 7 Jan 1952.

Programme for concert at the Royal Festival Hall, 6 April 1952. Bliss's The Enchantress had been written for Ferrier and first performed by her in a Manchester studio broadcast the previous October.

Programme for Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, 18 September 1952. Flier for 4 concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, 17-20 November 1952. Ferrier sang Mahler's Kindertotenlieder in the first concert.

Programme for Orfeo, Royal Opera House, 3 February 1953. This production (sung in English) was mounted especially for Ferrier, who in the event was able to give only two performances - that on February 6 was her last ever public appearance.