Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner

Mary Jarred (Mezzo-soprano, Contralto)

Born: October 9, 1899 - Brotton, Yorkshire, England
Died: December 12, 1993 - London, England

The English mezzo-soprano and contralto, Mary Jarred studied at the Royal College of Music in London.

After her Studies, Mary Jarred, sang minor roles at Covent Garden beginning in 1929. On the recommendation of Lauritz Melchior, she was invited to the Hamburg State Opera and remained there as a guest artist for the following three years. Her roles included the Nurse in Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten and several in contemporary works by Hans Pfitzner and Alban Berg. In 1933, she sang Orpheus in Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice for Sadler's Wells Opera. At Covent Garden she sang every year from 1933 until 1939, when the theatre closed at the outbreak of war. She sang Erda in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, and Fricka in Die Walküre. In 1934, she sang Margret in the first British broadcast performance of Wozzeck for the BBC, conducted by Adrian Boult.

During and immediately after World War II, Mary Jarred performed in recitals and concerts with notable success. She returned to opera in 1953, as Mother Goose, the brothel keeper in the British stage premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress presented by Glyndebourne at the Edinburgh Festival. Her splendidly sung and strongly acted performance of this role, unsurpassed by any British singer in the 40 years since then, was repeated at Glyndebourne in 1954 and 1955. In concert, she was famed as contralto soloist in George Frideric Handel's Messiah, J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244), Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah and L.v. Beethoven's Choral Symphony. She was also a well-known Angel in Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius. The Times commented: "In all these parts her commitment, sincerity and warmth of personality were abundantly evident." On October 5, 1938, she was one of the original 16 singers in Ralph Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music.

After her retirement, Mary Jarred was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music from 1965 to 1973, and she also taught privately. Along with Eva Turner and Roy Henderson, she took part in a BBC Radio broadcast written and presented by John Steane in 1989 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Serenade to Music. Jarred died at the age of 94.

Mary Jarred's recordings include: Bedrich Smetana: The Bartered Bride with London Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus conducted by Thomas Beecham (Somm); Richard Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer - with Royal Opera House Chorus, Covent Garden Choir & London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner (Standing Room Only); L.v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 with BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini (Live performance, November 3, 1937, Queen's Hall, London. Music & Arts); L.v. Beethoven: Mass in D Major, Missa Solemnis, Op. 123, with London Philharmonic Orchestra & Leeds Festival Chorus conducted by Thomas Beecham (Somm); Mary Jarred, contralto with The BBC Orchestra, Section F conducted by Clarence Raybould in Elgar's Interpreters on Record, Volume 5: Broadcasts from the Leech Collection at the British Library (1935-1950) (Elgar Society).

Source: Absoloute Astronomy Website; Obituary in The Insependent (January 1994); Communigate Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2009)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Karl Rankl


BWV 53

Links to other Sites

Obituary: Mary Jarred (Insependent)
Mary Jarred (Communigate)

Mary Jarred (Wikipedia)
Mary Jarred (Absolute Astronomy)
Jarred, Mary (

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


Back to the Top

Last update: Monday, May 29, 2017 08:35