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Sheet music, tea tray and piano from The Graphics Fairy. Other sheet music from DigitalCollageImages. The flourish to the left is from Vintage Art Download and the vintage postcard of Clara Butt is in my own collection.

Known as ‘The Voice of the Empire’ or ‘The Voice of the Century’, Dame Clara Butt (1872-1936) was born in Sussex and brought up in Bristol. She became one of the most famous and beloved of English recitalists and concert singers. A ‘booming’ contralto, she was remarkably imposing at 6’ 2".

Dame Clara was not loved by all. Some who considered themselves as superior, serious musicians tended to dismiss her; one famous comment that has passed into folklore came from the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham who is reported to have said, “On a clear day, you could have heard her across the English Channel.”

She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1920 for her charity concerts during The Great War. However, nothing could have made up for the sadnesses in her middle and later life. She had three sons by her husband, baritone Kennerly Rumford, but the eldest died of meningitis, the youngest by his own hand. The singer was diagnosed with spine cancer in the 1920s, which ultimately contributed to her death in 1936 at the relatively early age of 63.

Winifred Ponder’s biography of Butt, published in 1928 while the contralto was still alive, includes this paragraph: “She stands out head and shoulders from among her contemporaries in personality as she does in stature, and the amazing range and power and beauty of her voice have placed it beyond comparison with all others. That superb voice alone must inevitably have won worldwide fame for her. Yet to Clara Butt her voice is only a means to express something greater than any voice—greater even than music herself—a spiritual force that must have found expression through her by some means even if she had had no voice at all.”

[Research: Encyclopaedia Britannica; Cantabile-subito.de; Wikipedia; MarstonRecords.com]

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clara butt, singer, contralto, dame, sheet music, piano, tea tray, flourish, musical notation, black, white, vintage postcard, digital collage

I am a self-employed actress, artist and writer who has always loved creating art of one form or another. Thank you for all comments and forgive me if health problems prevent me from always replying.

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Comments

  • Danica Radman
    Danica Radmanabout 3 years ago

    love love love it

  • You’ve made me cry! Thank you!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • shanghaiwu
    shanghaiwuabout 3 years ago
  • Gosh, I’m so flattered – thank you very much!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • JUSTART
    JUSTARTabout 3 years ago

    beautiful work

  • Thank you – great to have your endorsement!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • garts
    gartsabout 3 years ago

    Coll creation, great stuff.

  • Thank you so much!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • Rene Hales
    Rene Halesabout 3 years ago

  • My pleasure!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • Danica Radman
  • How lovely. Thank you so much!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • Greta  McLaughlin
    Greta McLaughlinabout 3 years ago

    An outstanding composition Sarah, totally deserving of the features!!!! Beautiful work!!!!

  • Many thanks, Greta!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • Clo Sed
    Clo Sedabout 3 years ago

    I love the atmosphere you’ve created here, and I didn’t know her (sorrrrrrrrrrry, i’m just french !!!!)
    Magali

  • I wouldn’t expect British people to have heard of her either, unless they’re getting on in years! So pleased you like it. Thank you, Magali.

    – Sarah Vernon

  • tori yule
    tori yuleabout 3 years ago

    wonderful work

  • Thank you, Tori!

    – Sarah Vernon

  • RobynLee
    RobynLeeover 1 year ago

    Lovely Work! Btw,isn’t “Graphic Fairy” Great? I’ve used alot of their images in my artworks:-)

  • Bless you, Robin. And oh yes, that Karen ‘Graphic Fairy’ Watson is a valuable lady to have in one’s corner!

    – Sarah Vernon

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