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Open Features: John Beard

Peter Wintersgill introduces us to John Beard, a singer who helped to establish the importance of the tenor voice.


He was a Chapel Royal Chorister until 1734.

Adult life
He sang frequently in Handel's Covent Garden company, in operas, church music and oratorio. The tenor parts of Israel in Egypt, Messiah, Samson, Judas Maccabeus and Jephtha were written with him in mind. He also sang in other composers' works, notably Mac Heath in the Beggar's Opera.

He helped to establish the importance of the tenor voice, when castratos and women were often taking leading male roles.

He died on 5th February, 1791, in Hampton, aged 74.


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