‘Walter Widdop – The Great Yorkshire Tenor’ by Michael Letchford


A celebration of that rare thing – a great English tenor! Includes FREE CD with 19 tracks of Widdop’s greatest recordings between 1924 and 1930, superbly transferred by late Roger Beardsley

SKU: 978-0-9564796-1-7 Category:


Walter Widdop was one of the finest British singers of the first half of the twentieth century, the greatest native-born tenor of his time and one of the outstanding heroic tenors in the world between the First and Second World Wars. He was born in Norland, Yorkshire in 1892. After the First World War, he sang in a local church choir and joined the choir of St James’s Church Halifax. People were impressed with his as yet un-trained voice, and as a result, he saved all he could to pay for lessons with a local teacher, Arthur Hinchcliffe. Widdop had made his opera debut in Aida in Leeds in 1923. This was the beginning of a great career in opera and concerts that took him to Covent Garden, Royal Albert Hall, Queen’s Hall, Crystal Palace and tours to Australia, South Africa, USA, Spain and Europe. His career only ended with his death in 1949 the day after singing at a Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall. As a man, Widdop was very sociable and had a great sense of humour. He never forgot who he was and where he came from. Although, somehow Yorkshire forgot its great tenor. It was only thanks to Michael Letchford who conducted extensive research on his life and career that we now, after more than a half of century since his death, get to know of his great achievements and remember him as an exceptional tenor.

The book includes a chronology and selection of reviews from 1923 to 1948 compiled by Michael Letchford, a short biography by Val Parker, ‘Life and My Father’ by the singer’s daughter Veronica Bott, the recorded legacy by Tully Potter and the complete recording sessions by David Mason.


Track 1 – Handel: Judas Maccabaeus – Sound an alarm (rec. 18th January 1929)


Track 15
 – Wagner: Die Walküre (Act 1) –Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater (rec, 23rd august 1927, LSO, cond. Albert Coates)

Additional information





Country of Publication

United Kingdom

Year of Publication


4 reviews for ‘Walter Widdop – The Great Yorkshire Tenor’ by Michael Letchford

  1. admin-smh

    ‘…the immensely valuable CD is worth the price of the publication itself… most excellently produced tribute to a wonderful singer and – by all accounts – fine human being. Strongly recommended.’
    Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review

  2. admin-smh

    ‘The literature on English singers has suffered from a severe lack of information on the career of Walter Widdop, without doubt the greatest and most important Heldentenor ever produced in this country: the only English tenor ever to have sung all the major Wagner roles at the highest level. Hitherto, information regarding his outstanding career could be gleaned only from his HMV recordings, but now the void has been aptly filled by Michael Letchford’s timely compilation.’
    Neil Howlett, The Wagner Journal

  3. admin-smh

    ‘This new volume about one of Britain’s truly great singers…revolves around Widdop’s lifetime work and legacy: (includes) an amazingly detailed chronology with a selection of reviews and a full discography. The engineering and transfers (of the CD) were undertaken by the late and sorely missed Roger Beardsley, and they include some of Widdop’s best work. Where’er you walk from Handel’s Semele is published for the first time and there is a splendid ring and forward sound to two pieces from the sizable chunks of Die Walküre recorded by HMV.’
    Stanley Henig, Classical Recordings Quarterly

  4. admin-smh

    ‘For those devotees of ‘recorded vocal art’ and in particular those who are admirers of great tenor voices, at long last a testament to the talent of Walter Widdop has been published. It is an undertaking of considerable effort that should please all those who admired Widdop’s voice, and it brings him to the notice of many who might not know his worth, as both singer and theatrical artists’.
    Alan Bilgora, The Record Collector

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