Obituary: Audrey Langford

Audrey Langford, singer, conductor, voice teacher: born Rochdale 28 June 1912; married 1936 Frederick Riddle (two daughters), 1949 Andrew Field; died Bromley, Kent 5 August 1994.

AUDREY LANGFORD will no doubt go down in musical history as a superb singing teacher over a period of 50 years, but she also had two other successful careers, as a soprano who sang at Covent Garden in the late 1930s and, after the war, as a conductor, most particularly of the Bromley Philharmonic Choir and the Kentish Opera Group, both of which organisations she founded.

Born in Rochdale, she studied in London at the Royal College of Music, taking piano as her first subject and singing as her second. In 1936, at the age of 24, she was engaged by Sir Thomas Beecham for his Grand Opera Season at Covent Garden, to sing minor roles. She also appeared in Beecham's Winter Season (1936- 37), the Grand Opera Season of 1937, when she took part in Wagner's Ring cycle conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler, and the Imperial League of Opera Season during November and December of the same year. She did not sing in 1938, but returned for the Grand Opera Season of 1939, the last before the Second World War.

Langford spent the war years singing with ENSA and soon afterwards, when a perforated eardrum forced her to abandon her own singing career, began to teach - among her earliest pupils was the mezzo-soprano Josephine Veasey, who had just been accepted, at the age of 18, as a member of the Covent Garden chorus - and also to conduct. She was married first to the viola player Frederick Riddle, and in 1949 to the bass-baritone Andrew Field; together they set up the Cantica Voice Studio in Bromley.

As music director of the Kentish Opera Group, Langford chose an admirably varied repertory, most of which she conducted herself. From the mid-Fifties to the mid-Sixties the group's annual performance during July at Orpington Civic Hall included Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann (1956); and Vaughan Williams's Riders to the Sea in a double bill together with a shortened version of Rossini's The Thieving Magpie (1958), a family affair in which the conductor's daughter the mezzo Sally Langford, sang Ninetta, while her husband, Andrew Field, took the part of Ninetta's father, Fernando Villabella.

Kentish Opera Group also presented a triple bill of Richard Arnell's Moonflowers, Arthur Benjamin's The Devil Take Her and Donizetti's The Night Bell (1959); the British premieres of Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino and Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief (1960); Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers, with Sally Langford in the title role; the British premieres of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah (1961) and Menotti's The Saint of Bleecker Street (1962), as well as Vaughan Williams's Falstaff opera, Sir John in Love (1963).

In 1965 Audrey Langford conducted Agrippina for Opera 1961 at LAMDA theatre - a performance which, believe it or not, turned out to be the first London staging of Handel's opera - with Sally now re-christened Elizabeth Langford as Otho; this very successful production was repeated the following year at Eltham Palace, where I remember enjoying it very much indeed.

During the 1970s Audrey Langford expanded her teaching activities by giving master classes in Britain and the United States. Later she taught at the Royal Northern College of Music and frequently visited Australia. She will be remembered with affection and gratitude by her many pupils.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen