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Phyllis Lett

(1883-1962), Contralto singer

Sitter in 1 portrait

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Phyllis Lett, by Ernest Walter Histed, published by  Breitkopf & Hartel - NPG x197798

Phyllis Lett

by Ernest Walter Histed, published by Breitkopf & Hartel
bromide postcard print, 1900s
NPG x197798


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Elaine Merckx and Neal Rigby

11 March 2019, 09:57

Phyllis Lett (1883-1962) was born in Lincolnshire, but educated at Wakefield Girls’ High School (1894-1900). After studying at the Royal College of Music and in Paris she achieved distinction as a professional contralto singer and recording artist, particularly in the period 1906 - 1925. Phyllis worked with the most distinguished musicians of the day, including Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Henry Wood, and was a major performer at the Proms in 1913, 1914 and 1915. During the Great War she supported the national effort in over 1,000 concerts at home, in France and in Belgium. Radio and the gramophone were increasingly important and Phyllis embraced both. She married Charles Rupert de Burgh Ker in 1924 and the newly married couple moved to Australia in 1925. She died at Yea, Victoria, Australia in 1962.

John France

04 September 2015, 08:01

Phyllis Burgh Ker née Lett was born in Wakefield during 1884. As a mezzo-soprano, Lett was a popular recitalist during the nineteen twenties. The Times reports that she ‘had a pleasing voice of even quality, intelligence and interpretation and persuasive delivery'. The RCM Magazine notes that she 'was possessed with a magnificent contralto voice [and] was perhaps one of the most famous oratorio singers of her day, and was in great demand at the chief festivals…’ Lett died in Yea, Victoria in Australia on 1st June 1962.

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