Desmond, Astra, English mezzo-soprano and teacher; b. Torquay, April 10, 1893; d. Faversham, Aug. 16, 1973. She studied in London at Westfield Coll. and with Blanche Marchesi at the Royal Academy of Music. Following additional training in Berlin, she returned to London and made her recital debut in 1915. While she made some appearances with the Carl Rosa opéra Co., she devoted herself principally to the concert and oratorio repertory; was a prof, of voice at the Royal Academy of Music (from 1947). In 1949 she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her interpretations of English music, particularly works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams, were outstanding. Having mastered 12 languages, she also excelled as an interpreter of the Scandinavian song literature.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire