Mary Bothwell

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Mary Bothwell 1948

Mary Bothwell (November 28, 1900 - May 3, 1985) was a Canadian classical vocalist and painter. As a singer she began her career as a contralto, but ultimately ended up performing soprano parts in the opera and concert repertoire.

Born in Hickson near Woodstock, Ontario, Bothwell studied at the Canadian Academy of Music in Toronto where she was a voice student of Otto Morando and a piano student of Peter C. Kennedy. From 1920-1929 she performed as a contralto in opera and oratorio performances in Toronto and Buffalo, New York. In 1937 she went to Austria to study singing at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg. The following year she moved to New York City where she was a pupil of Paul Althouse. She made her recital debut in that city at Town Hall on November 1, 1938 and continued to appear there until the early 1960s.

In 1947 she made her first European tour which included performances in Germany, the Netherlands, and England. That same year she was much admired at the Scheveningen Festival for her portrayal of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She was also celebrated for her portrayal of Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, a role she notably performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Adrian Boult in 1948. She performed on radio in New York, Paris, London, and Basel. Among her recordings for Royale are An Hour of Lieder:

  • Hugo Wolf Sung by Mary Bothwell (1310)
  • An Hour of Concert Songs (1318)
  • Bless This House (1538)
  • Richard Strauss Album (4069)

Bothwell was elected president of the Canadian Women's Club of New York City at the annual meeting in the Savoy Hilton on May 12, 1958. During her term as president of the Canadian Women's Club of New York she encouraged the careers of young Canadian performers.

Bothwell became known also for her paintings of flowers. "Wild Flowers of Switzerland", 36 botanical studies in oil by Mary Bothwell was exhibited for the first time at the Horticultural Society of New York on April 18, 1971.


  • Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
  • MARY BOTHWELL GIVES ANNUAL SONG RECITAL - New York Times, February 16, 1953. Page 18
  • Canadian Women Plan To Aid Blind Children - New York Times, December 10, 1961, Sunday.Page 100.
  • What's New in Art. In the Galleries: MARY BOTHWELL-The Horticultural Society of New York. New York Times, March 25, 1973, Sunday. Section: AL, Page 162.