Alfred Deller

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Deller, Alfred (George)

Deller, Alfred (George) , English countertenor;b. Margate, May 31, 1912; d. Bologna, July 16, 1979. He studied voice with his father; began singing as a boy soprano, later developing the alto range. He sang in the choirs of the Canterbury Cathedral (1940–47) and at St. Paul’s in London. In 1950 he formed his own vocal and instrumental ensemble, the Deller Consort, acting as conductor and soloist in a repertoire of early English music. This unique enterprise led to a modest revival of English madrigals of the Renaissance. In 1963 he founded the Stour Music Festival in Kent. Britten wrote the part of Oberon in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream for him. In 1970 Deller was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


M. and M. Hardwick, A. D.: A Singularity of Voice (London, 1968; 2nd ed., rev., 1982); J.-L. Tingaud, A. D.: Le contre-tenor (Paris, 1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Deller, Alfred (George) (b Margate, 1912; d Bologna, 1979). Eng. countertenor. Lay clerk Canterbury Cath. 1940–7. Was heard in 1943 by Tippett, who invited him to sing at a Morley Coll. concert. Sang Purcell's Come, ye Sons of art, away on opening night of BBC Third Programme, Sept. 1946. Full-time career from 1947. Formed Deller Consort 1950 for authentic perf. of baroque mus. (début Salzburg Fest. 1972). Deller's artistry almost solely responsible for revival of counterten. v. and its use in Purcell, Handel, Monteverdi, etc. Created role of Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1960. OBE 1970. Son Mark Deller (b St. Leonards, 1938) is also counterten.

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Dupré, Desmond (John) (b London, 1916; d nr. Tonbridge, 1974). Eng. lutenist, guitarist, and viol player. Lute-song duo with Alfred Deller from 1950, touring widely. Many solo recitals. Recorded J. S. Bach's sonatas for va. da gamba and hpd. with Thurston Dart. Member of Morley Consort, Jaye Consort of Viols, Musica Reservata, etc.

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