Henry Cummings 1906-1989

Henry Cummings was an Irish baritone who studied at the Royal Academy of Music, then later with John Coates. He won a Westmoreland Scholarship and other grants. After a career as a baritone, he was appointed Professor of Voice at the RAM and he married Norah Newby, an accompanist. He gave the first Sunday Promenade Concert at the Albert Hall in 1943.

During the Second World War he broadcast on Radio Luxembourg with coded messages to help the resistance movement in Europe, usually in the middle of the night. A car would collect him from his home in Watford to take him to Haberdasher Aske’s Boys School in Elstree where he sang songs in foreign languages – possibly Flemish or Dutch.

Later he lived at 52 Carlton Hill.

Henry Cummings (1906-1989), FRAM; Royal Academy of Music;  Portrait by Margaret Palmer (1985)







This page was added on 23/06/2020.

Comments about this page

  • Henry was my late first wife’s (Jan Cummings) Uncle Henry. The family has Welsh roots (Powells etc.)and never mentioned Irish. My wife studied at the Academy in the drama faculty (LRAM) while he was Professor of Voice. He was wonderful company and very hospitable!
    His burgeoning operatic career was hampered by the after effect – a limp – of polio but the voice remained strong and true. For a time he had his own radio programme and a group of singers, with a varied upbeat programme of traditional English song.
    He certainly relished the cloak-and-dagger operaticism of that clandestine wartime work.
    He was an invited additional baritone chorister for the expanded forces for the 1953 Coronation.
    Henry would have been incandescent at the axing of the BBC Singers – he was certainly a force in the movement for choral work on radio.

    By John Faulkner (17/03/2023)

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