Pleasant and smooth of voice, Gerald English became one of England's most important lyric tenors in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Although most often remembered as a concert and oratorio singer, he sang many opera performances in a wide-ranging repertory that covered several centuries. He was as comfortable and authentic in Monteverdi as he was in the music of his own time. During the latter part of his performing career, he became a respected professor of music. After spending much of his early years in Belgium and Northern France, English entered Oxford University as a student of science. Following a period of military service, he returned to school, this time as a student at the Royal College of Music undertaking voice studies with Jennifer Ryan. At age 25, he became a member of the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir and, shortly thereafter, the Deller Consort. With the latter, his continental upbringing proved of value in singing idiomatic French. During this time, he also began to build a reputation as a recitalist, eventually gaining particular authority as an interpreter of Fauré. English's debut in opera took place with the English Opera Group in 1955 when he sang the evil Peter Quint both in England and in Milan. In addition to works by Britten, English received good notices for his interpretations in works by contemporary composers such as Tippett, Richard Rodney Bennett (who had requested him for the title role in The Ledge), Berg, Stravinsky, Dallapiccola, and Henze. The venues in which he sang included Paris, Vienna, Barcelona, and Stockholm, as well as Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, and Sadler's Wells (predecessor to the English National Opera). Meanwhile, his concert work took him to various cities in America, Brussels, Rome, Cologne, Stockholm, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Rio de Janeiro. Beginning in 1960, English served as a professor of music at his alma mater, the RCM, and in 1977, he assumed directorship of the Victoria College of the Arts in Melbourne while continuing his concert and recital work. Among the singer's many recordings are fine ones of French songs, Bach cantatas, Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, Purcell's Te Deum and lute songs, and Vaughan William's The Pilgrim's Progress.
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