Amanda Aldridge: A Musical Legacy and Inspirational Educator

Under the pen name Montague Ring, Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge, sometimes known as Amanda Ira Aldridge, was a British opera singer and teacher who lived from 10 March 1866 to 9 March 1956. She wrote love songs, suites, sambas, and light symphonic compositions.

Lives

The third child of Swedish-born actor Ira Frederick Aldridge and his African-American second wife, Amanda Brandt, Amanda Aldridge was born in Upper Norwood, London, on March 10, 1866. She was blessed with two brothers, Ira Frederick and Daniel, and two sisters, Rachael and Luranah. At the Royal College of Music in London, Aldridge studied voice with Jenny Lind and George Henschel, and harmony and counterpoint with Frederick Bridge and Francis Edward Gladstone.

Following her education Aldridge pursued careers as a concert vocalist, pianist, plus voice instructor. Her career as a concert pianist came to an end due to a throat issue. She thereafter focused on teaching and wrote approximately thirty romantic parlour songs and other instrumental music between 1907 and 1925. Her students included the offspring of politically engaged Black middle-class Londoners, such as Amy Barbour-James, John Barbour-James’s daughter, Frank Alcindor, Dr. John Alcindor’s son, and Alice Evans, the sister of composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. African-American actors Roland Hayes, Lawrence Benjamin Brown, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and Bermudian-British actor Earl Cameron were among her illustrious students. Aldridge was present when Robeson played Othello in the West End in 1930 and handed Robeson the gold earrings that her father, Ira Aldridge, had worn in the role. Aldridge also accepted taking soprano Ida Shepley under her wing and transforming her into a theatrical performer. She was 86 years old when the African-American weekly magazine Jet reported in 1951 that she was still teaching voice and piano.

When Luranah Aldridge, an opera singer (1860–1932), fell ill, Amanda took care of her. In 1921, W. E. B. Du Bois invited Amanda to the second Pan-African Congress, but Amanda declined, writing, “As you know, my sister is very helpless….” I’m only able to leave for a short while at a time.”

In the British show Music For You, Aldridge made her television debut at the age of 88, performing Montague Ring’s “Little Southern Love Song” with Muriel Smith. Following a brief illness, she passed away one day shy of her ninetieth birthday on March 9, 1956, in London.

Stephen Bourne evaluated the composer’s life and career in the illustrated story “At home with Amanda Ira Aldridge” that appeared in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Historian. Aldridge’s entry for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography was previously penned by Bourne. Google created a Doodle in 2022 to pay tribute to Aldridge.

Look

After laryngitis ruined her throat, Aldridge gave up singing to focus on composition and teaching. Her primary genre of composition was Romantic parlour music, which was mostly played by amateur singers and pianists in the parlours of middle-class families. Her compositions were released under the alias Montague Ring. She became well-known under this name for her numerous piano and voice works, including love songs, sambas, suites, and light orchestral works, all in a popular manner with a cross-genre influence.

Functions

  1. Among the chosen works are:
  2. G. Bowles, “An Assyrian Love Song,” Elkin & Co., London, 1921.
  3. “Azalea,” composed by M. Ring both in lyrics and music. Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew, London, 1907.
  4. E. Weatherly, “Blue Days of June,” Chappell & Co., London, 1915.
  5. Words by P. J. O’Reilly for “The Bride” 1910; London: Chappell & Co.
  6. Simpson, “The Fickle Songster,” words. 1908; London: Cary & Co.
  7. G. Bowles, author of “Little Brown Messenger,” G. Ricordi & Co., London, 1912.
  8. Talbot Owen wrote the words to “Little Missie Cakewalk,” while Clifford Essex played the banjo. Lublin & Co., London, 1908.
  9. “Little Rose in My Hair,” written by E. Price-Evans. Chappell & Co., London, 1917.
  10. “Deux Tiny songs from the South. F. G. Bowles wrote the lyrics to “1. Kentucky Love song 2. June in Kentucky.” Chappell & Co., London, 1912.
  11. In “Love’s Golden Day,” E. Price-Evans writes. Chappell & Co., London, 1917.
  12. “Miss Magnolia Brown,” composed by M. Ring in both lyrics and music. Francis, Day & Hunter, London, 1907.
  13. Melody and lyrics for “My Dreamy, Creamy, Colored Girl” by M. Ring. Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew, London, 1907.
  14. Talbot Owen, “My Little Corncrake Coon,” Lublin & Co., London, 1908.
  15. Simpson, “Simple Wisdom,” words. Lublin & Co., London, 1908.
  16. J. O’Reilly wrote the words for “A Song of Spring.” Boosey & Co., London and New York, 1909.
  17. “Now is the time to love.” P. L. Dunbar wrote the lines “A Summer Night.” Chappell & Co., London, 1925.
  18. “A Summer Love Song,” written by I. R. A. Boosey & Co., London and New York, 1907.
  19. London: Chappell, 1913. “Three African dances”. OCLC 16395461.
  20. In “Supplication,” P. J. O’Reilly writes. 1914; London: Leonard & Co.
  21. “All During the Day. Three melodies. P. J. O’Reilly said, “1. Morning. 2. Noon. 3. Evening.” Boosey & Co., New York and London, 1910.
  22. L. Dunbar, “‘Tis Morning,” words. Elkin & Co., London, 1925.
  23. “When the Coloured Lady Saunters Down the Street,” composed by M. Ring in both text and melody. Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew, London, 1907.
  24. Henry Francis Downing, “Where the Paw-Paw Grows,” Ascherberg, Hopwood & Crew, London, 1907.

FAQs

  1. Who was Amanda Aldridge, and what was her contribution to music?

Amanda Aldridge, born on March 10, 1866, in Upper Norwood, London, was the third child of the Swedish-born actor Ira Frederick Aldridge and his African-American second wife, Amanda Brandt. She was a British opera singer and teacher who, under the pen name Montague Ring, became known for her contributions to Romantic parlour music. After studying at the Royal College of Music in London, where she trained with notable figures such as Jenny Lind and George Henschel, Aldridge pursued a career as a concert vocalist, pianist, and voice instructor. Despite a throat issue ending her concert pianist career, she thrived as a teacher, instructing notable students such as Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson.

  1. How did Amanda Aldridge transition from performing to composing and teaching?

Aldridge’s transition from performing to composing and teaching occurred after laryngitis affected her throat, leading her to give up singing. Despite this setback, she found success in composition, focusing on Romantic parlour music. She adopted the pen name Montague Ring for her compositions, gaining recognition for love songs, suites, sambas, and light symphonic works. Her compositions were well-received, and she continued to teach voice and piano, leaving a lasting impact on the musical education of her students.

  1. What notable works did Amanda Aldridge compose under the alias Montague Ring?

Aldridge, using the pseudonym Montague Ring, composed numerous works, including love songs, sambas, suites, and light orchestral compositions. Some of her selected works include “An Assyrian Love Song,” “Azalea,” “Blue Days of June,” “The Bride,” “Little Brown Messenger,” “Little Missie Cakewalk,” and “Love’s Golden Day.” These pieces showcased her versatility and skill in the Romantic parlour music genre, catering to the tastes of middle-class families of the time.

  1. How did Amanda Aldridge contribute to the musical education of her students?

Aldridge played a significant role in the musical education of her students, including the children of politically engaged Black middle-class Londoners. Notable individuals such as Amy Barbour-James, Frank Alcindor, Alice Evans, Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson were among her illustrious students. Even in her later years, at the age of 86, she was reported to still be actively teaching voice and piano. Her dedication to nurturing talent and transforming students into successful performers demonstrated her lasting impact on the musical landscape.

  1. How did Amanda Aldridge spend her later years, and what was her legacy?

In her later years, Amanda Aldridge cared for her ailing sister, Luranah Aldridge, also an opera singer. She declined an invitation to the second Pan-African Congress in 1921 due to her sister’s condition. Amanda Aldridge made her television debut at the age of 88 on the British show “Music For You,” performing one of Montague Ring’s compositions. She passed away on March 9, 1956, one day before her ninetieth birthday, in London, following a brief illness. Posthumously, her life and career were evaluated by Stephen Bourne in the illustrated story “At home with Amanda Ira Aldridge,” and in 2022, Google paid tribute to her with a Doodle. Her legacy lives on through her compositions and the musical education she provided to generations of talented individuals.

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