Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge (1866 – 1956), known as Amanda Ira Aldridge, was a prominent British opera singer, teacher, and composer, performing under the pseudonym Montague Ring. She was the daughter of the renowned Afri-can-American Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge. Amanda Aldridge, opera singer, was not only known for her exceptional vocal talents but also her remarkable contributions as a composer. Her legacy includes a collection of Amanda Aldridge songs that continue to enchant music enthusiasts today.
Who was Amanda Aldridge?
Amanda Aldridge, born on March 10, 1866, in Upper Norwood, London, was the third child of the Afri-can-American Shakespearian actor Ira Frederick Aldridge and his second wife, Swedish-born Amanda Brandt Read More.
Education and Career
Aldridge received voice training from Jenny Lind and Sir George Henschel at the Royal College of Music in London. She also studied harmony and counterpoint with Frederick Bridge and Francis Edward Gladstone. After completing her studies, Amanda Aldridge pursued a career as a concert singer, piano accompanist, and voice teacher. Sadly, a throat condition ended her concert performances.
Her legacy in teaching was remarkable, with notable students such as Roland Hayes, Lawrence Benjamin Brown, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. She even gave Paul Robeson the gold earrings her father, Ira Aldridge, had worn as Othello when he played the iconic role in the West End in 1930. She also mentored Ida Shepley, transforming her from a singer to a stage actor
Montague Ring: The Pseudonym
In the world of music, Amanda Aldridge was known by her pseudonym, Montague Ring, under which she composed and taught in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Her father, Ira Aldridge, made history as an Afri-can-American actor starring as Othello in London in 1825. Amanda had a talented sister, Luranah Aldridge, who almost became the first performer of African heritage at the Bayreuth Opera House. Unfortunately, illness prevented this historic moment. Amanda’s family also included brothers Ira Daniel Aldridge and Ira Frederick, both of whom passed away young.
Amanda Aldridge’s musical journey included studying composition and singing at the Royal College of Music with renowned figures like Jenny Lind and Frederick Bridge.
A Missed Opportunity
In 1921, W. E. B. Du Bois invited Amanda Aldridge, renowned as an opera singer and composer, to the Second Pan-African Congress to address issues stemming from European colonialism. However, she regretfully couldn’t attend the prestigious event due to her dedication to caring for her ailing sister, a gifted contralto singer. Amanda Aldridge’s multifaceted talents as an opera singer, composer, and creator of memorable songs continue to illuminate her legacy.
A Prolific Composer
Amanda Aldridge, under the pseudonym Montague Ring, composed over thirty Romantic parlour songs and numerous instrumental pieces. Her compositions were widely popular, blending various rhythmic influences and genres. Some of her works include “Three Arabian Dances,” “Lazy Dance,” “Little Southern Love Song,” and “Little Missie Cakewalk.”
What is a Parlour Song?
Parlour songs were designed for intimate settings, usually featuring voice and piano accompaniment. They were accessible to both amateur and professional musicians, fostering a sense of shared joy and connection. Other prominent women in this genre included May Brahe, Amy Woodforde-Finden, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, and Charlotte Alington Barnard.
A Lasting Legacy
Amanda Aldridge’s contributions to parlour music left an indelible mark on British music and the African-British community in London. Her compositions, filled with memorable melodies, continue to resonate with audiences today.
After studying under Jenny Lind, also known as the “Swedish Nightingale,” and George Henschel, Amanda established her career by creating and composing art songs that frequently featured poetry by African American poets.
I cannot be away for more than a few minutes at a time.” At the age of 88, Aldridge made her inaugural television appearance on the British show “Music For You,” during which Muriel Smith performed Montague Ring’s “Little Southern Love Song.” Following a brief illness, she passed away in London on March 9, 1956, just one day before her 90th birthday.
Aldridge utilized music to delve into her diverse ethnic background, amalgamating various rhythmic influences and genres with poetry by Black American authors. It is believed that she employed the pseudonym as a means of distinguishing her composing career from her singing and teaching amanda aldridge songs.