My dad, Donald, loved contralto voices and he particularly liked Kathleen Ferrier. When I was a child all opera sounded warbly, wobbly and very odd, and sometimes funny… it’s only as I’ve become older that I have begun to appreciate it. I still wouldn’t say it’s my favourite music, but I do have some recordings and I have been to the opera.
Kathleen was a Lancashire lass, she was born near Preston in 1912, just over a hundred years ago. Her father was a school teacher, and musical himself, and he and her mother encouraged her to pursue her gift. She seems to have lived a normal life, leaving school at fourteen to go to work but always keeping up with her music. Fame came to her during the war and she began to tour across the world. However, her wonderful voice was silenced when she was only forty-one when she died of cancer… how very tragic and what a great loss.
Looking at photographs of her, her charm radiates from her pictures, beautiful but in an ordinary natural way. We have had very windy weather over the last couple of days, and as we drove home, buffeted by gales, ‘Blow the wind southerly’ came into my mind. The winds battering us are south-westerleys… straight off the sea!