In this detailed and fascinating interview, Geraldine Frank discusses her musical childhood in Vienna in the 1930s, coming to England as a Jewish refugee in 1938 at the age of 14, and her life during and after war in Britain. She also discusses the pedagogy of her singing teacher Helene Isepp and shares her memories of working as a language coach at Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House and for choirs all over the UK and beyond.
Born in 1923 into a Jewish family in Vienna highly aware of the political turmoil in the run-up to the Anschluss in 1938, Geraldine Frank was one of the first Jewish children evacuated to Britain before the official start of the Kindertransport. During the war she worked as a parlour maid and trained as a nurse.
After the war she was able to train as a singer in the Opera School founded by Joan Cross and other members of the English Opera Group, and with the influential Viennese émigré teacher Helene Isepp, who also taught Dame Janet Bakerand many other important British singers. After singing professionally for a few years Geraldine Frank took up teaching at Morley College and later at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio.
Her inside knowledge of singing became instrumental in her work as a highly respected language coach for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Opera, the Birmingham Symphony Chorus and the BBC Singers, to mention but a few. She has been a formative influence on countless professional and amateur singers in Britain and beyond and has touched many with her extraordinary love of words and music.