Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

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Belle
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Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Thu May 03, 2018 6:48 pm

One of my friends is presenting a program on this forgotten Australian singer next week for our community music group. This is a National Library of Australia blog based upon my friend's research, which might interest opera lovers here on CMG. My friend Hilary is responsible for bringing this singer out of obscurity and into public attention:

http://www.nla.gov.au/blogs/behind-the- ... ral-part-1

Florence Austral died in poverty and is buried in our area, north of Sydney.

Lance
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Fri May 04, 2018 12:51 am

Forgotten but not by me! I collected Florence Austral recordings starting at age 17 and was taken with her "Inflamatus" from Rossini's Stabat Mater. It rings in my ears yet! Florence Mary Wilson took the name Austral in honour of her country's name. J. B. Steane talks about her (how much I cannot recall) in his book Singers of the Century, Volume 1. CD releases have not been kind to Austral. I'd like to share with you some of Austral's recordings I have. She was considered a top Wagnerian singer until Kirsten Flagstad came along. A pity a woman and singer of this stature died poor. She deserved better than that. I hope that one day a biography will be written about her life and career. Thank you, Australia, for so many great singers from Australia including Austral and Peter Dawson. He is a subject for another conversation/post!

These are CD/LP recordings I presently have of Austral.

• CD Pearl 9146 - Opera arias, mostly acoustic (pre-1926)
• CD Dutton 7025 - "Stars of English Oratorio," Volume 1 [collection, many singers]
• CD Dutton 7030 - "Stars of English Opera," Volume 4 [collection, many singers]
• LP HMV RLS-707 - Stars of Old Vic / Sadlers Wells
• LP HMV COLH-147 - Opera and oratorio (all Austral), including "Inflamatus," which is also available on some other LPs or hard-to-find CDs
• LP RCA LCT-6701 - "50 Years" [collection of varous singers]
• LP Enharmonic EN 82-004, R. Strauss song "Cäcilie"
• LP Rubini RDA-005 - Collection, songs, opera arias, oratorio [all Austral]
• LP EMI 2901693 - Record of Singing, Volume 3 [collection, many singers]
• LP EMI OXLP-7650 - Flotow: Martha, "Last Rose of Summer"

Preiser also issued both an LP and CD transfer, and there are some downloads available from the Internet of Austral. For others interested in the singer, Wikipedia has a good article here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Austral
Lance G. Hill
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John F
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by John F » Fri May 04, 2018 2:47 am

Forgotten in Australia, perhaps, but as Lance says, not by collectors of old records. When HMV recorded 30 sides of "Gotterdammerung" in 1928, she was the Brunnhilde. I don't understand why; HMV had the greatest Brunnhilde of that time and possibly any time under contract, Frida Leider, and later rerecorded the dawn duet and immolation scene with her.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Fri May 04, 2018 3:21 am

You're absolutely amazing, both of you; thanks for your contributions!! I'll pass your collection details and these comments onto my friend. The National Library of Australia is relying on my friend for more information to add to their records. She is eager to get some recognition of the singer on the 50th anniversary of her death and has phoned our national ABC-FM fine music network - who've shown zero interest!!!

Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Fri May 11, 2018 6:40 am

Here's the second and last instalment of the National Library of Australia bio of Florence Austral that my friend wrote:

https://www.nla.gov.au/blogs/behind-the ... ral-part-2

It appears she was experiencing the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis from as early as 1930.
Also mentioned in this article is her accompanist on piano; the Belgian, Raymond Lambert. By a strange coincidence this is the same man who taught piano at Melbourne University to my friend and fellow convener of our community music program!!

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Fri May 11, 2018 1:13 pm

What wonderful work Hilary Oliver has done in bringing back the memory of Florence Austral! I will be presenting a radio broadcast in Austral's memory sometime in the near future and would like to use some of the information provided by Ms. Oliver. Please compliment her for me, and determine if she would mind if I use some of her information. More than ever, I want to get to Australia and meet all you wonderful folks. I've already met Barney in New York City, corresponded with the late Agnes Selby who wrote a marvelous book on Constanze Mozart. I sure do miss her presence on CMG boards. Her daughter is a noted pianist throughout Australia and I have presented a radio tribute to her. Thank you again for this wonderful post. I hope the Austral thread can go on further! Would Hilary Oliver ever consider writing a book (loaded with photos) of Florence Austral?
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Fri May 11, 2018 8:03 pm

Lance wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 1:13 pm
What wonderful work Hilary Oliver has done in bringing back the memory of Florence Austral! I will be presenting a radio broadcast in Austral's memory sometime in the near future and would like to use some of the information provided by Ms. Oliver. Please compliment her for me, and determine if she would mind if I use some of her information. More than ever, I want to get to Australia and meet all you wonderful folks. I've already met Barney in New York City, corresponded with the late Agnes Selby who wrote a marvelous book on Constanze Mozart. I sure do miss her presence on CMG boards. Her daughter is a noted pianist throughout Australia and I have presented a radio tribute to her. Thank you again for this wonderful post. I hope the Austral thread can go on further! Would Hilary Oliver ever consider writing a book (loaded with photos) of Florence Austral?
Thanks, Lance. She worked on this with another fellow who presented the first of the two programs for us last Thursday. She studied singing in Italy herself for a few years and is able to explain about singing techniques.

I cut and pasted this thread and sent it to her and this is what she's written just now:

Tell him that the best book (but difficult to read) is When Austral Sang - The Biography of Florence Austral by Michael Elphinstone & Wayne Hancock. I think he could pick it up on eBay.

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Sat May 12, 2018 1:29 am

Yes, I have actually ordered TWO biographies of Austral, neither of which I knew about for some reason. I am very anxious to read them. Thanks for the very quick follow-up. Much appreciated. And please thank Hilary for advising about the books.
Belle wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 8:03 pm
Thanks, Lance. She worked on this with another fellow who presented the first of the two programs for us last Thursday. She studied singing in Italy herself for a few years and is able to explain about singing techniques.
I cut and pasted this thread and sent it to her and this is what she's written just now:

Tell him that the best book (but difficult to read) is When Austral Sang - The Biography of Florence Austral by Michael Elphinstone & Wayne Hancock. I think he could pick it up on eBay.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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maestrob
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by maestrob » Sat May 12, 2018 10:27 am

Image

Found this on American amazon for only $6.98.......

......and this collectors' item for $35 (8.99 in mp3 downloads)

Image

Lance
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Sat May 12, 2018 2:40 pm

On LP and CD, I have a huge number of Preisers. They generally did a great job in either transferring 78s or LPs to the CD format. I don't have the Austral Preiser on CD and don't have it on LP either. A big miss for me. Preisers that are apparently unavailable now are going for high prices.
maestrob wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 10:27 am
Image

Found this on American amazon for only $6.98.......

......and this collectors' item for $35 (8.99 in mp3 downloads)

Image
Lance G. Hill
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______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Sat May 12, 2018 5:01 pm

I'll say it again; YOU PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!!!

Lance
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Sun May 13, 2018 12:26 am

Well, thank you! It's very nice of you to put it that way, but it is people like yourself on CMG that contribute enormously to a site like this! After seeing a number of classical music boards, I think we are friendly, non-intimidating, and are here for one reason: we love classical music. I'm personally delighted to have a forum like this to talk about music, recordings, concerts, books, and related subjects. I have made so many friends through CMG and it all makes life more interesting and keeps our enthusiasm going for what we enjoy. So, to repeat your comment:
YOU PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!
Belle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 5:01 pm
I'll say it again; YOU PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!!!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Lance
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Mon May 14, 2018 12:24 pm

Sue (Belle), look what you started by mentioning Austral's name! We have over 350 hits on the subject. Good for you!
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Thu May 17, 2018 12:42 am

There is a download (only way to get it) of 21 tracks on the "Maestoso" label. Either Amazon/USA or Amazon/England has it available. I downloaded it tonight. Not a bad selection of music, but ... caveat emptor! Side joins from the old 78s is not great, but the biggest bummer is that the engineer reduces the volume and fades too fast at the end of the sides. We do get some of the music cut off. Nevertheless, the fabulous Austral voice shines through resplendently. There a marvelous duet with tenor Tudor Davies, a fabulous Welsh tenor (Trovatore: Miserere); and another piece selection with the Australian tenor Browning Mummery, a voice I am not familiar with. It transferred well to the hard drive and to a CD quickly. The Preiser Austral disc arrived recently. Much better transfers and includes Wallace's "Scenes that are Brightest" - made famous in our own time by Joan Sutherland. It is a great thrill for me to reinvestigate this lovely voice of Austral.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Lance
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Fri May 18, 2018 7:45 pm

Today, the book When Austral Sang: The Biography of Florence Austral by Michael Elphinstone and Wayne Hancock — first published in Australia in 2005 — arrived today. All 655 pages! It will take some time to go through this from beginning to end, but just thumbing through it already looks very interesting and inviting. I now await the other Austral biography.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Fri May 18, 2018 8:37 pm

The Elphinstone/Hancock book was the main reference material which one of the presenters used for his program two weeks ago.

I learned that Florence Austral's ashes are represented by a plaque on a brick wall at the crematorium 10 minutes' drive from my house. A simple plaque: Florence Mary Amadio 1892-1968. Our two presenters have certainly stirred interest in this singer - from the National Library to the University Conservatorium and beyond. She did have a magnificent voice and extraordinary range. I note she sang Wagner right through to Handel. These days singers seem to specialize in certain repertoire.

Do you think you might present one of your radio programs about Florence Austral sometime in the future? Some of our audience members wondered if there was any way of cleaning the crackles and blurriness of those early recordings? What are your thoughts on this, Lance?

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Fri May 18, 2018 8:44 pm

Stirred some interest? My word, we have over 630 posts regarding a (fabulous) singer that many people never heard of but certainly should! So, Sue, it was YOU who got things started for Austral. I think she would be very pleased with her "memory resurrection," if I can call it that. (Who knows, maybe she is looking down upon us with a smile!)

Will I present a tribute to her? Absolutely. Yes, sometime in the future. I have a lot of personal research to do on her and evaluate my own recordings of her work. Since this first came about on CMG, I have already amplified the recordings I had quite a bit. I will keep you posted on when. In the meantime, I continue to L@@K for recorded repertoire!

I will smile as I know Australia - so far away - is hearing me on the radio!
Belle wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 8:37 pm
The Elphinstone/Hancock book was the main reference material which one of the presenters used for his program two weeks ago.

I learned that Florence Austral's ashes are represented by a plaque in the crematorium 10 minutes' drive from my house. A simple plaque: Florence Mary Amadio (with her dates). Our two presenters have certainly stirred interest in this singer - from the National Library to the University Conservatorium and beyond.

Do you think you might present one of your radio programs about Florence Austral sometime in the future? (I'll be listening to you tomorrow morning at 9am AEST.)
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Fri May 18, 2018 9:48 pm

I heard the program about Eileen Joyce and I'll listen in tomorrow!! It's at 9am here. And I've sent this thread to the two presenters for our group on Florence Austral so they can read any ensuing comments or developments here on CMG. :D

Thank god for the internet!!! It's the greatest development after stereophonic recordings and FM radio.

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Sun May 20, 2018 12:44 am

Right, Sue, but please add home made cherry pie to the greatest development since stereo and FM radio!
Belle wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:48 pm
I heard the program about Eileen Joyce and I'll listen in tomorrow!! It's at 9am here. And I've sent this thread to the two presenters for our group on Florence Austral so they can read any ensuing comments or developments here on CMG. :D

Thank god for the internet!!! It's the greatest development after stereophonic recordings and FM radio.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Sun May 20, 2018 2:42 am

It sounds absolutely delicious, Lance. And a front line of offense in the battle of the bulge!!!

barney
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by barney » Sun May 20, 2018 3:59 am

Did you bring some for the whole class, Mr Hill?

Belle
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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Belle » Sun May 20, 2018 7:08 pm

Barney, ABC FM has shown zero interest in the Florence Austral story. This surprised us in our group, unless they've already done something on her (in which case they might have said that to our researchers).

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by barney » Mon May 21, 2018 6:17 pm

Belle wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Barney, ABC FM has shown zero interest in the Florence Austral story. This surprised us in our group, unless they've already done something on her (in which case they might have said that to our researchers).
That's upsetting. I don't know anyone at Classic FM except Mairie Nicholson, but I suppose it's the same as everywhere - no staff, dropping standards, including standards of civility and common courtesy.

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Re: Florence Austral, forgotten Australian soprano

Post by Lance » Mon May 21, 2018 6:36 pm

Am happy today, the other biography, Florence Austral ("...one of the wonder voices of the world" ... Nellie Melba) arrived today from Australia, the one by James Moffat. I guess I've got both biographies now unless there is some other one out there.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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