(bHopewell, NY, 27 March 1867; d New York, 19 Feb 1950). American soprano and mezzo-soprano. She studied with Aglaia Orgeni in Dresden, made her first appearance at a Gewandhaus concert in Leipzig and her operatic début as Fidès in Le prophète at the Berlin Hofoper on 11 November 1894. She was a member of the Vienna Hofoper from 1895 to 1903. On 16 May 1900 she made her Covent Garden début as Amneris and sang Ortrud, Fricka, Erda and Waltraute in the same season. From 1903 (début on 30 November as Amneris) until 1906 she was a member of the Metropolitan Opera. There she began to add soprano roles, including Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, to her repertory and at the Hamburg Opera (1903–12) she appeared regularly both as soprano and mezzo. In 1908 she sang Ortrud and Kundry at Bayreuth and returned, as Isolde, to Covent Garden, where she was accounted one of the greatest Wagnerian artists to have sung there. Under Beecham, in 1910, she was the first London Electra, winning high praise for both singing and acting; she also appeared as Thirza in Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers. From 1912 until 1917 she sang in the Munich Festivals. After her retirement from the stage she taught singing, chiefly privately but also, from 1933 to 1936, at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau and subsequently in New York. The few published recordings of her voice were made between 1902 and 1908.
ERIC BLOM/HAROLD BARNES
(b Bombay, 15 July 1870; d Oxford, 21 Feb 1949). English teacher, writer on music, composer and pianist. His boyhood was marked by omnivorous self-instruction which was intensified when in 1887 he entered Balliol College, Oxford, and was befriended by its master, Benjamin Jowett. Taught by R.L. Nettleship, who profoundly influenced Walker's philosophical interests, and W.R. Hardie, he took the BA in classics (1891), after which followed the BMus (1893) and DMus (1898). In 1891 Balliol appointed him assistant organist to John Farmer, who had established there the series of Sunday concerts to whose fame and scope Walker signally contributed, particularly from 1901 when he succeeded Farmer as director of music. Walker’s concerts brought to Oxford such artists as Plunket Greene, Steuart Wilson, Fanny Davies and Adolf Busch, and helped to create the climate for the acceptance of music as a serious discipline, a process which culminated in 1944 with the establishment of an independent faculty of music. At the Balliol Concerts Walker gave the first performances in England of Brahms’s op.117 and of the Rhapsody op.119. He resigned the post of organist in 1913 and as director of music in 1925. He was made an honorary Fellow of Balliol in 1926.
Walker’s passion for integrity of craftsmanship and his aversion to theatricality show in his music. Outstanding in his word settings are the Five Songs from England’s Helicon and the solemn anthem Lord, Thou hast been our refuge. The Cello Sonata (1914) combines passion and harmonic adventure.
Secular vocal: 5 Songs from England’s Helicon, op. 10, SATB, pf, 1900; Hymn to Dionysus (Euripides, trans. G. Murray), op.13, chorus, orch, 1906; Ode to a Nightingale (J. Keats), op.14, Bar, chorus, orch, 1908; Soft Music (R. Herrick), op.48, SSATBB, 1931; Dirge in Woods (G. Meredith), op.65, SATB, 1939; many other songs and partsongs
Sacred vocal: 2 Anthems, op.16, 1899, rev. 1947: I will lift up mine eyes, male chorus/SSA, org, Lord, Thou hast been our refuge, male chorus/SATB, org; One generation passeth away, op.56, SATB, 1934; hymn tunes and canticles for Lady Margaret Hall etc.
Inst: Fantasia, D, op.32, str qt, 1905; Sonata, f, op.41, vc, pf, 1914 (1928); Variations on a Theme of Joachim, op.40, vn, pf, 1918 (1927); Fantasia-Variations on a Norfolk Folksong, op.45, small orch, 1930, arr. pf duet; 3 Fughettas, op.49, pf, 1932; 10 Preludes on the Lady Margaret Hall Hymntunes, op.50, org, 1932; Rhapsody and Fugue, pf duet, 1932 (1934); sonatas for vn and va, etc.
MSS in GB-Obac
Principal publishers: Novello, OUP, Williams
For complete list see Deneke
‘Brahms’, PMA, xxv (1898–9), 115–38
Beethoven (London, 1905)
A History of Music in England (Oxford, 1907, 2/1924, enlarged 3/1952 by J. Westrup)
‘Brahms as a Song-writer’, MT, lxxiv (1933), 406–10
Free Thought and the Musician (London, 1946)
DNB (C. Bailey)
Obituaries: The Times (22 Feb 1949); The Times (24 Feb 1949); The Times (4 March 1949)
R.Stradling and M.Hughes: The English Musical Renaissance 1860–1940: Construction and Deconstruction (London, 1993)
M.Musgrave: The Musical Life of the Crystal Palace (Cambridge, 1995)
IVOR KEYS/DUNCAN J. BARKER
(b Gosport, 10 June 1907; d Tring, c25 Feb 1962). English musicologist. From Portsmouth Grammar School, he entered the GPO cable and wireless service, and remained in it until his death. During the war he was attached to the Royal Corps of Signals in Italy. Walker devoted all his leisure to musical research. He was self-taught in musicology and acquired a fluent command of German and Italian. His interests were limited to Wolf, Verdi and certain aspects of earlier Italian music, but within these limits he achieved the highest possible standard of critical and literary excellence.
His book on Wolf was originally planned, in 1936, in collaboration with Walter Legge, but Walker ultimately wrote it himself. When he visited Austria at the end of the war, he met some of Wolf's descendants with whom (and with others who had known the composer) he had already corresponded. They made available to him new letters and documents, some of which did not appear in print, however, until the second edition of the book. His long research bore fruit in a critical biography which is one of the classics of English musical literature. An elegant, lively style is linked to apparently effortless control of a mass of material, which, in the hands of a lesser writer, could have become oppressive. Walker showed keen judgment in sifting the conflicting evidence which surrounded various parts of Wolf's life. Indeed, his devotion to the truth was surpassed only by the compassion he showed for the composer's frailties. The criticism of the music, though selective, shows a sensitive understanding of Wolf's genius for melody and rhythm, but says little about his astonishing harmonic audacities.
The same qualities and methods are found in the masterly book on Verdi, which subjects the growth of the composer's character to a brilliantly illuminating scrutiny, enhanced by Walker's own vivid translation of numerous letters and other documents. Again he proved his genius for handling a huge mass of material, much of it new, without producing a dull page. He showed marvellous insight into the subtleties of Verdi's mind and the richness of his human relationships.
Walker's very lively, valuable essays on Italian and, especially, Neapolitan subjects exhibit his gifts within a smaller framework – ironic ridicule of pretentious, inaccurate writing, and penetrating assessments based on meticulous research, some of which he began during his war service. The research for his later articles, as for much of his book on Verdi, was undertaken during his holidays in Italy. Walker's death, by suicide, was a great loss to English musical scholarship.
‘New Light on Hugo Wolf's Youth’, ML, xx (1939), 399–411
‘Wolf's Spanish and Italian Songs’, ML, xxv (1944), 194–209
‘Verdi and Francesco Florimo: some Unpublished Letters’, ML, xxvi (1945), 201–8
‘The History of Hugo Wolf's Italian Serenade: the End of a Controversy’, MR, viii (1947), 161–74