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)