Robert Easton (bass)

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Robert Easton (8 June 1898 in Sunderland, England – 1987) was a British bass of the mid-twentieth century.

His teachers were Bozelli, Dinh Gilly, Norman Notly and Harry Plunket Greene. He was successful in both concert hall and opera house, being noted, inter alia, for the heavy Wagnerian bass roles.

On 5 October 1938 he was one of the original 16 singers in Ralph Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music. The solo lines composed for him set the words, 'The reason is, your spirits are attentive' and 'Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.'

Robert Easton was severely wounded in the trenches in the First World War, having a leg amputated, and when he was invalided out of the army he was offered training, first as an accountant, which he realised quickly he was not suited for, and then as a singer.

His 'debut' (so he always said) was deputising for an indisposed Harold Williams at the Royal Albert Hall in the early 1920s, singing Stanford's Songs of the Sea under Thomas Beecham, who then offered him many opportunities to forward his career.

He recorded principally for the Columbia label, but, unfortunately, most of these do not do his voice justice. Private recordings made in the 1950s are a much better indication of what he really sounded like, the voice being warm and round. He was a true bass, being able to sing bottom B with ease.

In 1930s he sang at Covent Garden and in the early 1950s took part in the first BBC television broadcast, thereafter appearing frequently, including having his own series.

He continued singing as well as being an inspirational teacher throughout the 1970s until he died in 1987. He freely gave of his time for all kinds of charity recitals and when Owen Brannigan was severely injured in a car crash took over many of his engagements, in spite of being in his seventies.

He had a large build with a sense of humour to match and even in later life used to flirt with every attractive young lady he would encounter on the London Underground. Having said this, he was very happily married, with one daughter, and lived in Haslemere for at least the last twenty years of his life.

Literature[edit]

  • D. Brook, Singers of Today (Revised Edition - Rockliff, London 1958), 70-74.