London Office lOa Soho Square

London, W.I


Edited by

Telephone Gerrard Z136, 2137


Tele,rams Parmaxto, Rath, London

Vol. XIV


No. 161


The Favourite Singer

THE number of entries for the best essay on " My Favourite Singer" for which the prize offered was the H.M.V. album of lieder sung by Lotte Lehmann was a disappointment. I had anticipated a much larger entry: and so, evidently, did the competitors, f?r I?ost of the accompanying letters alluded to the hkelihood of my being swamped under by essays. The act~al number was under forty, and I cannot help feeling that such a small number is symptomatic of the presen~ decline of public interes t in singing due, I am cO~1Vmced, .above all to radio, which has give n the pubhc a surfeIt of mediocre singing, and on top of th~t has done .a great deal of harm to really good vOlC~S by e~posmg the~ ~o the danger of bad reproductlon owmg to the VICIOUS habit so many wireless users have of boosting up their machines. I t would not be r ash to assert that not less than 80 per cent. of the owners of wireless sets persiste ntly abuse the volume control kn ob. One cannot blame the entertainment direct?rs of .the various radio organizations for suc h excess ive rehan ce on mediocre singing any more than one co uld have blamed the hostesses of the latter half of the ~ineteenth .century for the after-dinner singers ',: ho enjoyed .the hberty of their dra,,,,·ing-rooms. The Simple truth IS that th ere are not enough good singers to supply a demand whi ch insists that day in day '-out so many hou rs have to be occupied in producing a ll over Europe, all over the world indeed, the noise of a ~an or wo~an singing. The appetite of li steners is Jad ed~ and It may be a minor sign of such a jaded appetlte that our recent Bach competition should-have produced six times as many entries as what on the surf<l:ce ~ould seem the much more popular task of nommatmg a favourite singer with reasons for the choice.. I t might be presumptuous to make any deductIOns from such a small entry, but i t is at least worth mentioning that more women readers of THE GRAMOPHONE entered for this competition than have ever entered for a gramophone competition before. In fact well over a third of the competitors were women and the uSHal proportion of women to men in our competitions is one woman to fifty men.

.The only two . singers to draw more than a single tnbute from theIr admirers were John MacCormack,


who drew five essays, and Viorica Ursuleac, who drew th~ee. . I have no hesitation in awarding the prize to MISS Ida North, 106 West Hill, Putney, S.W.I5, for her essay on Viorica Ursuleac. The effect i t had on myself was to send me immediately to the pile of September records in order to tryout the ten-inch Decca-Polydor disc of Friihlingsfeier and Ciicilie, orchestrated versions by Strauss himself of songs of his already well known. Not having the words of either song at hand, and being too indifferent a German scholar to follow the singer, I found myself wishing more earnestly than ever that the r ecord ing companies would make th e extra efforts necessa ry to present a new singer to the best advantage, and really the first thing a new singer req uires is that the public should be able to follow hi s or h er words . The other two essays on Viorica Ursuleac were good, but they lacked what one may caU the compulsion of ~1.iss Nort h's app reciation. However, before I agree with her eulogy I must hear more of Viorica Ursuleac's records.

Ar: excellent essay ca me from Miss Marjory Locke, 40 Hmdes Road, Harrow-on-the-Hill, who chose Kirsten Flagstad; but the essay that pleased me most afte r Miss North's was that of Mr. John Rich ardso n 49 Arbitration Street, Doncas ter, on Conchita Supervi~ - whi ch we are printing, with Miss North's. Other co mpetitors who deserv e special mention are Miss M. Radford , 37 Chatsworth Road, St. Annes, Lancs, for her thoughtful essay on John McCormack; Mr. C. Baker, 15 Swinton T errace, Dunkirk Lane, Halifax, for his enthusiastic and ac ute appreciation of John <?oates which we are printing; and finall y, a charming httl e essay on Caruso by Mr. M. Maher, of Killer a ule Co. Tipperary. ' Swing Music

The offer of twelve Swing music discs for the best d efinition ?f Swir:g music produced a good crop of ext ~emely lOterestlOg letters, from a careful perusal of willch I have been enabled to make my award, which goes to Mr. A. A. Clinch, 9 Braundton Avenue, Sidcup, for the following definition:

" Swing Music is aform of music of negroid origin, the foundati on of which is the four-in-a-bar rhythm either of the fox-trot or of the n egro blues, played by th e rhythm section, i,e ., piano drums guitar, double-bass, of a band. ' ,