Tenor History of a Voice John Potter

Publication date:
03 Aug 2010
306 pages: 198 x 129 x 24mm
12 black-&-white illustrations

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From its emergence in the sixteenth century to the phenomenon of the 'Three Tenors' and beyond, the tenor voice has grown in popularity and esteem. This engaging and authoritative book - the first comprehensive history of tenor singing - presents fascinating details about the world's great performers, styles of singing in different countries, teachers and music schools, the variety of compositions for the tenor voice, and much more. John Potter begins by surveying the prehistory of the tenor in the medieval period, when Gregorian chant and early polyphony had implications for a voice-type, and proceeds to the sixteenth century, when singers were first identified as tenors. He focuses on many of the greatest tenors - those who predated the gramophone as well as those whose recorded voices may still be heard - and considers the ways in which each is historically significant. The names range from legendary early figures like Ludwig Schnoor von Carolsfeld (Wagner's first Tristan) to those more familiar like Enrico Caruso, Richard Tauber, Mario Lanza, Roberto Alagna, Ian Bostridge, Andrea Bocelli, Il Divo, and, of course, Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras. Admirers of the tenor voice will especially appreciate the book's unique reference section, with bibliographical and discographical/video information on several hundred tenors.

More about this title

• Supplementary Material: Full biographical list
• John Potter has also compiled an Online Supplement to the above biographical list; this contains a wealth of updated links and discographies.

John Potter was a chorister at King's College Choir School, Cambridge, and later a choral scholar at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge University. His teachers include the great tenor Peter Pears; his early career included spells with the BBC Singers and Swingle II, and he was a founder member of the avant-garde ensemble Electric Phoenix. He was a member of the Hilliard Ensemble from 1984 to 2001, a career which included collaborations with jazz musicians Jan Garbarek and Peter Erskine, and with whom he won four gold discs. (As a session singer he worked with Mike Oldfield, the Who and with Emmerson, Lake and Palmer, and he has recorded with the Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.) In addition to recording John Potter has a very active career as a performer and vocal coach, both on the European mainland and in the USA, and is artistic advisor to the Tampere International Choir Festival (Finland). His singing teaching experience includes periods at Goldsmith's College, University of London and the Akademie fur alte Musik, Bremen. He was appointed to a lectureship at the University of York in 1998, and in 2003-4 he was the holder of an Edison Fellowship at the British Library. Among his many publications is Vocal Authority: Singing Style and Ideology (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

"A model of conciseness and clarity, Potter''s work gratifies lovers of cultivated singing [to] no end." --Ray Olson, Booklist

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