Amanda Aldridge: age at time of death, who was opera singer - why is Google Doodle celebrating her today?

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The most recent Google Doodle honours a groundbreaking opera vocalist who recorded over 30 songs and produced dozens of musical tracks.

On this day in 1911, Amanda Aldridge gave a piano recital at Queens Small Hall, the pre-war principal music venue in London and the original home of the BBC Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestras.

Here is everything you need to know about her.

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Who was Amanda Aldridge?

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons) | Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge, was an Afro-British opera singer and teacher who composed under the pseudonym of Montague Ring.

She was the third child of African American actor Ira Frederick Aldridge and his second wife, Amanda Brandt, and was born in Upper Norwood, London, in 1866.

At the Royal College of Music in London, Aldridge studied voice under Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind and German-born British composer George Henschel.

Aldridge worked as a concert singer, piano accompanist, and voice teacher after finishing her education, but her performance appearances were cut short in 1907 after laryngitis damaged her throat.

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Aldridge used music to explore her mixed ethnic heritage, combining numerous rhythmic influences and genres with poetry by Black American authors to produce romantic Parlour music, a popular genre played in middle-class living rooms.

Aldridge was an accomplished composer in this genre: in the time before record players were a common household item, the most efficient way for songs to spread was through sheet music.

Parlour music was intended to be played at home with a piano — a common feature in middle-class homes — and accompanied by vocals.

Under the pseudonym Montague Ring, she published about 30 songs in this style, as well as instrumental music in other styles, and as a vocal coach, pianist and composer, her talents continued to develop.

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The piano composition ’Three African Dances’, written in 1913 and influenced by West African drumming, became Aldridge’s most famous work.

Aldridge wrote love songs, sambas, and orchestral works far into her 80s, gaining international acclaim; she made her first appearance on television at the age of 88, on the British show "Music for You," where she introduced a new generation to her songs.

How did she die?

She died in London in March 1956 - a day before her 90th birthday - after a brief illness.

Inspiration for today’s Google Doodle comes from one of the few remaining images of Aldridge, which depicts the musician at her peak.

A touch of embellishment, made from the treble and bass clefs of musical notation, surrounds the focal image.

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