Derek Hammond-Stroud: Acclaimed baritone

 

The baritone Derek Hammond-Stroud was remarkably versatile, encompassing lieder and opera from Gilbert and Sullivan to Wagner and Richard Strauss.

His name is inextricably associated with the English National Opera, from its days at Sadler's Wells, the move to the London Coliseum, and the "English Ring" cycles under Reginald Goodall, in which he sang the role of Alberich.

He was born in London and, after attending the Salvatorian College at Harrow Weald, he studied at the Trinity College of Music and later in Munich and Vienna with Elena Gerhardt and Gerhard Hüsch, and also with Roy Henderson in London. In 1954 he won first prize in the London Music Festival and second prize in the Fourth International Vocal Competition at 's-Hertogenbosch in 1957.

Hammond-Stroud was a lieder singer with a remarkable ability to articulate the meaning and the mood of the text with clarity and feeling, the more effectively for being somewhat understated. A performance of Die Winterreise ("the ultimate test of a male lieder singer's art") at the Wigmore Hall in 1979 is still remembered by many who were there. Fortunately it was recorded and belatedly issued on CD in 2002. On this occasion the pianist was Geoffrey Parsons; he also worked with, among others, Gerald Moore – at whose final "Winter Journey" before retirement in 1966 he sang – Erik Werba, Nina Walker and Josephine Lee.

Also remembered in recital were performances of Fauré's La bonne chanson, Britten's William Blake songs (not quite his cup of tea, it was felt), Pfitzner's Eichendorff settings and Brahms's Die schöne Magalone. He also sang Bach and Handel, including Christus in the St John Passion. He was a warmly avuncular and often magical soloist in Vernon Handley's 1976 recording of Elgar's The Starlight Express and served as an adjudicator for the Kathleen Ferrier Awards in 1974.

But it was in opera that he was most widely known. After early appearances with the Chelsea Opera Group, the New Opera Company and at the St Pancras Festival – where he continued to perform for several years, including the first British performance of Rossini's La Pietra del Paragone in 1963 – he was at Glyndebourne from 1959 and joined the Sadler's Wells company in 1961. He tended at first to take the comic roles but his characterisations were much admired. As Chalcas in La belle Hélène he was, in the view of Joan Chissell, "the living personification of every wily Greek in history". His Dr Bartolo (The Barber of Seville) was, for Alan Blyth, "a masterpiece of comic observation".

Wagner flourished under Reginald Goodall at Sadler's Wells and later at the Coliseum, culminating in performances of Wagner's entire "Ring" cycle in English. But The Mastersingers came first, in 1968, with Hammond-Stroud as Beckmesser. Goodall's biographer John Lucas records that Hammond-Stroud "became aware that Goodall identified himself closely with the frustration and anguish of the Nuremberg town clerk who is treated with ridicule by his fellow citizens. For Goodall, Beckmesser was a tragic, rather than a comic character" and this was reflected in Hammond-Stroud's approach, which became "an impersonation of remarkable subtlety and virtuosity".

By contrast he was the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe, Jack Point in The Yeoman of the Guard, Koko in The Mikado and, most memorably (for me), Reginald Bunthorne – the "Fleshly Poet" – in John Cox's production of Patience, with excellent casts and breathtaking sets and costumes by John Stoddart.

His Faninal (Rosenkavalier) at Covent Garden was much admired, and he was for many the star of the 1972 revival of Madame Butterfly at the Coliseum. He also sang Papageno, Rigoletto, Kecal (The Bartered Bride), Tonio (Pagliacci), Sacristan (Tosca), Mellitone (The Force of Destiny), Cecil (Gloriana), and at festivals and opera houses throughout the world. He appeared often at the Proms and broadcast frequently on radio and television, including the television premiere of Walton's The Bear and Façade.

He conducted masterclasses and taught privately, and was professor for singing at the Royal Academy of Music from 1974-90. He was appointed OBE in 1987. The affection and esteem in which he was held by professional colleagues, as well as by audiences, was considerable, if the number and quality of signed photographs of international musical legends of the 20th century with whom he worked, on display at his home, is any indication.

Derek Hammond-Stroud, baritone: born London 10 January 1926; died Roden, Shropshire 14 May 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Supervisor

£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Software Developer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Junior Software Deve...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Store Sales Executive

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Sales Executive ...

Recruitment Genius: Night Porters - Seasonal Placement

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Night Porters are required to join a family-ow...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn