Kathleen Ferrier, "Klever Kaff"
December 3, 2005 8:23 AM Subscribe
"The extraordinary radiance of the voice. I still remember that. The extraordinary, enveloping, overwhelming beauty of Ferrier's voice." When Kathleen Ferrier died at 41 in October 1953, she was as famous as the newly crowned Queen. A working class girl from Blackpool who had to quit school at 14 to work as a telephone operator, a young woman who lacked formal musical training and whose husband bet that she would never win a music contest, Ferrier -- under the guidance of the great conductor Bruno Walter -- went on to become an international superstar. An "ordinary diva" who humbly worshipped "Herr Doktor Bruno Walter", gave very few newspaper interviews, never appeared on television or in cinema newsreels. Her speaking voice can be heard only briefly and only twice, on a tape made at a post-concert New York party, and in a short speech she made for the BBC at an Edinburgh Festival. Her extraordinary career lasted only less than 12 years. Half a century later, although her legacy lives on through her music, Ferrier herself -- "Klever Kaff" -- remains elusive. More inside.
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