Biography series exploring the greatest people who ever lived. Matthew Parris interviews an eminent…
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Kathleen Ferrier was a British contralto singer who died in 1953 from breast cancer. Her professional career had lasted just 14 years but in that time she had had become an international star, singing at Covent Garden, Glyndebourne and Carnegie Hall; and had worked with such luminaries of post-war music as Benjamin Britten, Sir John Barbirolli, and Bruno Walter. Not bad for someone who had no formal training as a singer and who had left school to work in the Blackburn telephone exchange. Ferrier never lost her common touch, never became a prima donna, and retained her liking for beer, cigarettes, and risque jokes. In this programme, broadcaster Sue MacGregor tells Matthew Parris why she admires Ferrier's work. Joining the discussion is conductor Christopher Fifield who edited Ferrier's letters.