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CHARLOTTE BIRCH (b.1815) Autograph Letter
Name: CHARLOTTE BIRCH (b.1815) Autograph Letter
Stock Status: In Stock

  CHARLOTTE BIRCH (b.1815) Autograph Letter
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  CHARLOTTE BIRCH (b.1815) Autograph Letter
click to see larger image


CHARLOTTE BIRCH autograph letter.

British soprano singer.

AL.  2pp.  9 Huntley Street, Torrington Square.  July 2nd 1839.  To "The Gentlemen of the Committee of the Worcester Festival". Together with the original address wrapper.

"Miss Birch hopes she may be pardoned for intruding herself upon the notice of the Gentlemen of the Committee, in laying before them the following statement, which in the necessity she feels for doing so, she trusts to receive the honour of their consideration.  Having accepted an engagement, as one of the Principals, Miss Birch has great pleasure in subscribing to the regulations sent to her by the Committee; she was however much surprised at receiving a notification from the conductor of the parts assigned to her in some of the performances proposed to take place at the Festival, namely "The Messiah" and "The Creation", in as much as all those pieces in which a singer might hope to distinguish herself, are assigned to another lady, who as Miss Birch had understood had been engaged on the same terms. Relative to distinction she felt she could not acquiesce in quite so unequal a division of the music, while to herself is given in the former a very ungrateful part, which however she makes no objection in accepting, and in the latter "The Creation" she has no part at all, except that of a small trio with Chorus, and a duet which takes place at the end of the performance.  Miss Birch feels it derogatory to her [?] as a Principal Singer to accept such a portion and addressed herself to Mr Clarke as Conductor to solicit some mediation by the [?] a solo in the Oratories.  In answer to her application, she is informed that it is not permitted, and that as Conductor he is not disposed to recommend it, so that the only step Miss Birch can take is, humbly to solicit the consideration of the Committee to direct some change in the appointment of the music.  Miss Birch assures the Committee that it is not from any feeling of [?] or jealousy that she is prompted to make this appeal to the kindness of those parties who would approve her statement, but that her fame and standing in the Musical Profession will not allow her consenting to the present arrangement and she hopes under these circumstances the Committee will direct a fairer division of the music."

An excellent letter in which the supressed fury of Charlotte Birch is almost palpable.  Charlotte Birch had been educated at the Royal Academy and studied singing under Sir George Smart.  She had first appeared in public in 1834 and by 1836 she had established herself as a very proficient concert singer with the Sacred Harmonic Society.  In 1838 Charlotte Birch made her first appearance at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester.  Although she sang at the Worcester Festival in 1842, we can find no evidence of her singing there in 1838 so we wonder whether her plea to the Committee might have fallen upon deaf ears and led her to cancel the engagement.  Being desirous of a career as an operatic singer, Charlotte Birch followed her fortunes, first in Leipzig and subsequently in Italy, before returning to England where she appeared at Drury Lane in Balfe's 'Maid of Honour' in 1847.  Charlotte Birch is said to have possessed a beautiful soprano voice, "rich, clear and mellow" but her cold, inanimate manner and want of dramatic feeling made her unsuitable for operatic performing.  She continued to enjoy much success and popular acclaim as a concert singer until increasing deafness forced her retirement.

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