Michael Letchford Artists

The Life & Career of a Great British Bass - Norman Walker - Front Cover

Singing With A Line – Norman Walker

The Life & Career of a Great British Bass - Norman Walker (1907 - 1962)

Norman Walker one of the outstanding basses of his time, was born in Lancashire and left school at 13 to work in a cotton mill. From an early age he impressed many with his sonorous and seemingly seemingly naturally produced bass voice, encompassing two octaves, and was compared, not unfavourably, with the famous bass Norman Allin.

In 1929, with the financial help from the local musical society he was able to study at the Royal Manchester College of Music, where he won the Curtis Gold Medal for vocalists. During the early 1930s Walker’s career as a concert singer was developing and in 1935 he sang in the Verdi Requiem at the invitation of Sir Thomas Beecham He made his first appearance with the Covent Garden Opera company Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. He continued to appear in major concert halls throughout the kingdom and appeared with the Glyndebourne Opera under Fritz Busch in 1937. During 1938 and 1939, in addition to his very busy concert career, he sang various roles at Covent Garden under Beecham, including King Mark in Tristan und Isolde, a role in which he was much admired post-war performances with Kirsten Flagstad. Walker sang with many of the leading singers of his time including Victoria de los Angeles, Isobel Baillie, Boris Christoff, Kathleen Ferrier, Sylvia Fisher, Hans Hotter, Set Svanholm, Ljuba Welitsch and Walter Widdop.

His career was curtailed by a stroke in 1955. After retiring from his performing career Norman Walker became a professor of singing at Guildhall School of Music. The author of this book had the good fortune of being one of his pupils.

A CD containing a selection of Norman Walker’s recordings, including un-published and 'live', is supplied with this book.

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Reviews of The Life & Career of a Great British Bass - Norman Walker

‘Given the fine career enjoyed by Walker, both in the opera house, in the concert hall and on radio, his discography in the book is limited to just a handful of pages, and the author had done well to assemble a CD which represents well his repertoire – from Handel to Wagner, commercial and off-air, published and unpublished. The CD ends with three delightful drawing-room songs. His voice comes across with warmth, depth and power, and particularly demonstrates his legato, ‘singing with a line.’

Michael Letchford was a pupil of Walker at the Guildhall School of Music for two years from 1960 and clearly learned much and formed a close connection with his teacher. His new book gives ample evidence of his admiration for the singer, and is beautifully produced, together with ample illustrations and intriguing endpapers. At £25 it’s a bargain!’

Roger Neill,
The Record Collector.


Handel: Acis and Galatea – I rage, I melt, I burn…O ruddier than the cherry (recorded 1954)




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