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Ferri, Baldassare [Baldassarre]

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Ferri, Baldassare [Baldassarre]

(b Perugia, 9 Dec 1610; d Perugia, 18 Nov 1680). Italian soprano castrato. He sang at Orvieto Cathedral (1623–4) before going to Rome to study with Vincenzo Ugolini of Perugia, maestro of the Cappella Giulia. In 1625 Prince (later King) Władisław IV of Poland heard him sing in Rome and took him to the Warsaw court, where he took part in performances of drammi per musica. He was in Perugia between 1637 and 1639, when he sang sacred works by G.F. Marcorelli, and again in 1651. In 1643 he was honoured for his singing in Venice, by being made a Knight of St Mark and in 1654 he visited Stockholm. Leaving Poland in 1655, Ferri went to Vienna, to the court of Ferdinand III and of his successor Leopold I, who heaped honours on him; in a portrait of the time he is called ‘Baldassarre of Perugia, King of Musicians’. In March 1664 he performed in an oratorio in Perugia together with G.A. Angelini, and in Holy Week of the same year he sang in S Apollinare, Rome, in the presence of Queen Christina of Sweden. He was in London in 1669–70. In 1675 (or 1680) he retired to Perugia where he worked principally at the church of S Filippo Neri. He was praised by his contemporaries, as the ‘Phoenix of Swans and of Singers’, for his vocal gifts and outstanding musical intelligence.


Il pianto de’ cigni, in morte della Fenice de’ musici, il cav. Baldassarre Ferri (Perugia, 1680)

G. Conestabile: Notizie biografiche di Baldassarre Ferri, musico celebratissimo (Perugia, 1846)

A. Lupattelli: ‘Baldassarre Ferri’, Perugia ed i suoi uomini illustri (Perugia, 1882, 3/1890), 82–4

G. Monaldi: Cantanti evirati celebri del teatro italiano (Rome, 1920)

K. Targosz-Kretowa: ‘Le théâtre d’opéra à la cour de Ladislas IV, roi de Pologne (1635–1648)’, Revue d’histoire du théâtre, xix (1967), 33–56

M. Baiocco: Su Baldassarre Ferri, cantante evirato del Seicento (diss., U. of Perugia, 1992–3)


Ferri, Lambert

(fl c1250–1300). French trouvère. He is known to have been a clerk of the Benedictine monastery of St Léonard (Pas-de-Calais) in 1268, and in 1282 was mentioned as canon and deacon of the same monastery. He seems to have been popular as a partner in jeux-partis, of which 27 examples are extant; his partners included Jehan Bretel, Jehan le Cuvelier d’Arras, Jehan de Grieviler, Jehan de Marli, Phelipot Verdiere, Robert Casnois and Robert de La Pierre. 11 songs survive with music of which seven are jeux-partis and one, Aïmans fins, is a Marian song in the form of a serventois. The jeux-partis survive in the single manuscript tradition represented by F-As 657 (facs., ed. A. Jeanroy, Paris, 1925), I-Rvat Reg.lat.1490 and I-Sc H.X.36. Two of these, Biaus Phelipot and Jehan Bretel, par raison, have a different melody in each of their sources, a phenomenon not uncommon in this manuscript tradition. The song J’ai tant d’amoursshares its melody and form with an anonymous song that has the same first line (R.2054); it is not known which is the contrafactum.


Edition: Trouvère Lyrics with Melodies: Complete Comparative Edition, ed. H. Tischler, CMM, cvii (1997–)


Aïmans fins et verais Debonairetes, R.198 (serventois)

Amours qui m’a du tout en sa baillie, R.1110

J’ai tant d’amours apris et entendu Que desoremais, R.2053

Li tres dous tens ne la saison novele, R.604


Biaus Phelipot Verdiere, je vai proi, R.1674

De ce, Robert de la Piere, R.1331

Grieveler, j’ai grant mestier, R.1291

Jehan Bretel, par raison, R.1888

Jehan, tres bien amerés, R.908

Prince del pui, selon vostre pensee, R.547

Sire Bretel, entendés, R.927


G. Raynaud: Mélanges de philologie romane (Paris, 1913), 315ff

H. Petersen Dyggve: Onomastique des trouvères (Helsinki, 1934/R), 165

M. Spaziani: ‘Il canonico Lambert Ferri’, Mélanges de linguistique et de littérature romanes à la mémoire d’István Frank (Saarbrücken, 1957), 678

R. Dragonetti: La technique poétique des trouvères dans la chanson courtoise (Bruges, 1960/R)

For further bibliography see Troubadours, trouvères.


Ferrier, Kathleen (Mary)

(b Higher Walton, Lancs., 22 April 1912; d London, 8 Oct 1953). English contralto. She intended to become a pianist and it was only in 1937, after winning the contralto class at the Carlisle Festival, that she considered a career as a singer and studied with J.E. Hutchinson and then Roy Henderson. During the war years, touring the provinces and singing with the Bach Choir in London, she established herself among England’s leading concert artists. She made her stage début as Lucretia in the first performance of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne in 1946, and the following year sang Gluck’s Orpheus there. These remained her only operatic roles.

Ferrier soon became known in Europe and the USA. Her appearances in Das Lied von der Erde at the Edinburgh Festival in 1947 and at Salzburg in 1949 were specially notable, and her recording of the work with Bruno Walter (and Julius Patzak) remains a classic. She also gave lieder recitals in Edinburgh and London with Walter as her partner. Though she did not always manage the degree of nuance appropriate to lieder, Walter wrote that ‘No summit of solemnity was inaccessible to her, and it was particularly music of spiritual meaning that seemed her most personal domain’. She also had a close artistic relationship with Barbirolli, and her performances as the Angel in The Dream of Gerontius under him were peculiarly radiant. Covent Garden staged Gluck’s Orfeo for her in February 1953 with Barbirolli as conductor. She could sing only two of the four scheduled performances before illness forced her to yield; these were her last public appearances (see illustration).

Ferrier’s warm, ample and beautiful voice was firm through all its range. She used it with increasing expressiveness, overcoming a certain inflexibility. She was at her greatest in music calling for ‘classical dignity’ (Cardus’s phrase for her style), breadth, nobility and deep emotional commitment: she was an ideal interpreter of Elgar, a very good one of Bach, Handel, Gluck and Mahler, as her recordings show. A winning (and quite un-solemn) personality, she often delighted her audiences by closing her recitals with a Northumbrian folksong, sung with a characteristic lilt.

Bliss’s scena The Enchantress and the alto part of Britten’s Second Canticle were composed for Ferrier. Scholarships are awarded annually in her memory by the Royal Philharmonic Society.


N. Cardus, ed.: Kathleen Ferrier: a Memoir (London, 1954, 2/1969) [with discography]

W. Ferrier: The Life of Kathleen Ferrier (London, 1955)

C. Rigby: Kathleen Ferrier: a Biography (London, 1955)

M. Leonard: Kathleen (London, 1988)

J. Spycket: Kathleen Ferrier (Lausanne, 1990)

P. Campion: Ferrier: a Career Recorded (London, 1992) [discography]

J.B. Steane: Singers of the Century (London, 1996), 61–5


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