Michael Letchford Artists

LOUISE KIRKBY LUNN (1873 – 1930)

‘Softly Awakes My Heart - Celebrating the Majestic Career of Louise Kirkby Lunn’

The contralto Kirkby Lunn was born in Manchester, studied at the Royal College of Music and made her first Proms appearance in 1895 and her operatic debut in 1893 the following year. She sang major opera roles with the Carl Rosa Company and in 1902 began a highly distinguished 20 year career at Covent Garden where she sang with many of the international opera stars of the time, including Caruso, Martinelli, Melba, Plançon and Scotti, on equal terms. She sang in the first performances of Parsifal in America and appeared regularly at the Met in New York. She also sang under the baton of Gustave Mahler in America. The book includes many reviews of Lunn’s performances, an extensive chronology, a complete discography and is illustrated with some rare photographs. The accompanying CD contains many of Lunn’s operatic recordings.

This is the first and only book devoted to Louise Kirkby Lunn. £28.00 p&p.


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‘Michael Letchford has made something of a speciality of writing about singers whose careers have not hitherto been examined in detail. Hot on the heels of his book on the celebrated English tenor Walter Widdop, the author now focuses on another major English singer almost forgotten save by the specialist collector of early vocal recordings. Louise Kirkby Lunn shared the operatic stage on equal terms with the likes of Enrico Caruso, Ernest van Dyck, Antonio Scotti, Pol Plançon, Eduard de Reszke, Milka Ternina and Olive Fremstad. Letchford’s book delivers exactly what it promises concentrating on Kirkby Lunn’s career rather than attempting a full ‘life and times’ biography. The detailed account of her career including performances in the USA, Australia and New Zealand is followed by a full chronology and a discography compiled by David Mason. The accompanying CD contains 18 of her operatic recordings. There are no duds among the 18 tracks; my own favourite is O don fatale from Don Carlo, in which Kirkby Lunn’s forceful attack makes Princess Eboli a woman on a mission. An excellent survey of these recordings by Tully Potter concludes with an apt summation of Kirkby Lunn’s career; ‘she was one of England’s greatest singers with a voice that can still thrill with its richness and colour’.’

Stanley Henig,
Opera Magazine.

‘Michael Letchford’s previous books on singers of the past have been distinguished by exceptional quality in terms of biographical and musical research, printing and presentation and accompanied by a CD of some of the artist’s famous recordings. This latest book is no exception, maintaining the quality for which this author is well-known… the book is illustrated with some rare photographs and posters, setting a standard which will be difficult to match and impossible to improve upon. This book is most enthusiastically recommended.’

Robert Matthew-Walker,
Musical Opinion Quarterly.


Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila – Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix (recorded 1909)




Each volume includes: - A biography, reviews, performance chronology, discography, rare photographs and, where recordings exist, a CD.

All books are available from the author:

Michael Letchford, Goar Lodge, Smith’s Green, Takeley, CM22 6NS

Email mlartists2@gmail.com. Telephone +44 (0) 1279 870590. Mobile +44 (0) 7815 871766

Please request invoice, which will include cost of postage, with your name and address. Payment by Sterling cheque, PayPal or bank transfer. Thank you