Jane Manning

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Jane Manning

Jane Marian Manning

(1938-09-20)20 September 1938
Died31 March 2021(2021-03-31) (aged 82)
Known forContemporary classical music
Spouse(s)Anthony Payne

Jane Marian Manning OBE (20 September 1938 – 31 March 2021) was an English concert and opera soprano, writer on music, and visiting professor at the Royal College of Music. She was described by one critic as "the irrepressible, incomparable, unstoppable Ms. Manning – life and soul of British contemporary music".[1]

Early life[edit]

Manning was born in Norwich on 20 September 1938 to Gerald Manville Manning and Lily Manning (née Thompson).[2] She was educated at Norwich High School for Girls, the Royal Academy of Music (graduating LRAM in 1958), and the Scuola di Canto at Cureglia, Switzerland. She was promoted to ARCM in 1962.[3][4] She describes her musical upbringing as one of a "very traditional background in oratorio and Gilbert & Sullivan".[2]


Manning's London debut came in 1964, at a Park Lane Group concert together with her mentor Susan Bradshaw.[2] She gave her first BBC broadcast the following year, singing Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire. She first sang at a Henry Wood Promenade Concert in 1972,[2] and was part of The Matrix with Alan Hacker.[5] She founded her own virtuoso ensemble, called Jane's Minstrels, in 1988, together with her husband. The group played music by Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar, Frank Bridge, Percy Grainger, Anton Webern and Arnold Schoenberg.[6]

Manning specialised in contemporary classical music. Her voice and sense of pitch made her a leading performer of new music. She was noted as a performer of Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire.[6] She sang regularly in concert halls and festivals throughout Europe, with more than three hundred world premières given. She toured Australia and New Zealand in 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1996, 2000 and 2002, and the United States in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996 and 1997.[3] She was the author of a textbook, New Vocal Repertory in two volumes.[7][8] A follow-up, Vocal Repertory for the 21st Century, was published in 2020. Volume 1 covers works from the second half of the 20th century, Volume 2, works written from 2000 onwards.[9][10]

In his preface to Manning's 65th birthday concert at Wigmore Hall in 2003, the British critic Bayan Northcott wrote:

It was an inspired choice to present Jane Manning as Miss Donnithorne, not only because she is an artist of astonishing gift but because she is also one of the greatest performers of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and in her performance of the Maxwell Davies, the two pieces are palpably linked.... Her performance is desperately touching, the more disturbing for being played as reminiscence.... a performance of scorching intensity (without conductor).[1]

Several leading composers composed new works for Manning including Harrison Birtwistle, James MacMillan and Colin Matthews. She commissioned the opera King Harald's Saga from Judith Weir in 1979.[6] Richard Rodney Bennett's choral work Spells was written for her,[11] as was Matthew King's The Snow Queen (1992).[12]

The critic Ivan Hewett wrote of Manning:

For many people Jane Manning is simply the voice of contemporary classical music in this country. Anyone who took an interest in this burgeoning area of music in the 1970s and '80s grew up with the sound of her astonishing voice in their ears. It's instantly recognisable, but it’s also a chameleon. Whether she's faced with the pure angular leaps of Anton Webern, the throaty suggestiveness of Schoenberg or the black, crazed humour of György Ligeti, Jane Manning is always equal to the task.[13]

Her world premieres include the role of Max in Oliver Knussen's Where the Wild Things Are (1980).[2][6] Judith Weir created a one-woman opera for her, King Harald's Saga, premiered in 1979.[6] She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007 (along with her husband Anthony Payne) by Durham University. This marked the first time the university honoured a married couple in this manner.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Manning married the composer Anthony Payne in 1966. He composed his first piece for her one decade later, titled The World’s Winter. She subsequently sang it at the Cheltenham Festival in 1976, with the Nash Ensemble. She did not use her married name professionally.[2]

Manning died on 31 March 2021, at the age of 82.[2][6]





  1. ^ a b "Jane Manning OBE, soprano". Classical Artists Worldwide. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Jane Manning, British soprano praised for her 'superhuman range' in tackling avant-garde contemporary music – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2021. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac "Manning, Jane Marian", in Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008.
  4. ^ Nick; Graham; Jane (13 February 2012). "Jane Manning". n-ISM. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Harrison Birtwistle: Nenia; The Fields of Sorrow; Verse for Ensembles: Jane Manning / David Atherton / Alan Hacker / London Sinfonietta – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Soprano Jane Manning dies, aged 82". BBC Music Magazine. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Manning, Jane (1994). New Vocal Repertory: An Introduction. Clarendon Press / Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-816413-5.
  8. ^ Manning, Jane (1999). New Vocal Repertory: Volume 2. Clarendon Press / Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-879019-8.
  9. ^ Manning, Jane (2020). Vocal Repertory for the 21st Century, Volume 1: works written before 2000. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-939102-8.
  10. ^ Manning, Jane (2020). Vocal Repertory for the 21st Century, Volume 2: works written from 2000 onwards. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-939097-7.
  11. ^ Harris, Paul; Meredith, Anthony (1 August 2011). Richard Rodney Bennett: The Complete Musician. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-588-0.
  12. ^ Maycock, Robert (5 December 1992). "Music / Notices: The Snow Queen – Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  13. ^ Hewett, Ivan (1 March 2010). "Jane's Minstrels at the Purcell Room, review: Jane's Minstrels, the group formed by veteran new music singer Jane Manning, celebrated their 21st birthday in style at the Purcell Room. Rating: ****". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Husband and wife musicians celebrated at Durham University". Durham University. 7 February 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Dr Jane Manning". Kingston University London, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Kingston University. 2 June 2014. Archived from the original on 29 April 2016.
  16. ^ "NPG x18624; Jane Marion Manning - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  17. ^ Matthews, Fran (16 September 2013). "2013 BASCA Gold Badge Award Recipients Announced" (Press release). British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.

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