CROSSLEY, Ada (1874-1929)


CROSSLEY, Ada (1874-1929)
singer
daughter of E. Wallis Crossley, a farmer, was born at Tarraville, Gippsland, Victoria, on 3 March 1874. Her mother belonged to the same family as the poet, Cowper. Miss Crossley's singing in the country met with so much appreciation that she was sent to Melbourne to be trained, where (Sir) F. H. Cowen, who had come from London to conduct the orchestra at the Melbourne international exhibition of 1888-9, heard her sing and gave her advice. She studied under Madame Fanny Simonsen for singing, and under Alberto Zelman the elder for piano and harmony. Her first appearance was with the Philharmonic Society at Melbourne in 1892, and she sang frequently in Melbourne in 1893 at concerts and in oratorio, and was the principal contralto at the Australian Church. In 1894 she went to Europe and studied under Madame Mathilde Marchesi for voice production, and under Santley for oratorio work. Her first appearance in London was at the Queen's Hall on 18 May 1895, when she had an immediate success. For many years she held a leading place at music festivals and on the concert platform, and five command performances were given by her before Queen Victoria in two years. She was also successful in America, and on returning to Australia in 1904 her tour was a series of triumphs. She also visited South Africa, and her second tour in Australia in 1908 was again very successful. She sang regularly at English festivals until 1913 but retired a few years later, though she made occasional appearances for charity. She never lost her love for her native country and her London house was always open to young singers and artists from Australia. There they received advice, hospitality, and sometimes assistance, without any suggestion of patronage. She died at London after a short illness on 17 October 1929. She married in 1905 Mr Francis Muecke, C.B.E., F.R.C.S. There were no children.
Miss Crossley had a charming personality and had hosts of friends in both England and Australia. Her voice had delightful evenness of quality, and its production was beautifully natural. She appealed to every class of audience in ballad concerts, in oratorio, and in recitals of classic songs. Her renderings of the Agnus Dei from Bach's B minor Mass, and of the solo part in Brahm's Rhapsody, have been especially mentioned as being among her highest achievements.
Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians; The Times, 19 and 21 October 1929; The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 19 October 1929.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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