B1017. JANET BAKER (Alan Blyth). New York, Drake, 1973. 64pp. Discography; Photos; DJ. - 0-87749-528-9
“Although she had no reputation for diva behavior and her name was as plain as Polly Peachum’s, Janet Baker was the greatest English singer of the postwar era. Her predecessor Kathleen Ferrier is uniquely mourned and beloved, and Peter Pears was a great singer, but for beauty of voice, range of repertoire, and unrivaled musicianship, Baker deserves any praise one can lavish on her….irresistible for anyone who prizes singing of the highest caliber.”
- Huntley Dent, FANFARE
“During the early 1960s Alan Blyth began writing music criticism for The Times and later in The Listener, The Guardian, and Gramophone. He was an associate editor for the magazine Opera between 1967–1983, and worked as a staff critic for The Daily Telegraph between 1977–1989.
Alan Blyth's affectionate early portrait of the mezzo-soprano was published in 1973, and he knew and admired her work probably better than most. For several years I tried to convince him that he was ideally placed to write a full biography of the singer, but it was a request he always managed to deflect."
- Philip Reed, THE GUARDIAN, 15 Aug., 2007
"Following the end of her performing career, Janet Baker has taken up a number of positions, most notably as a long-standing chancellor of the University of York and a patron of the Leeds piano competition. But she says that her work as a singer in a way prepared her for retirement. In a 1967 interview she revealed that she was reading Jung. 'The stuff of performing has to be very much an interior journey', she says now. 'You have to understand an awful lot of what is going on inside yourself. My interest in what makes a human being function was applied to roles, but has also been part of something that helps me in my retirement.
You get absorbed by a job, you retire from it, and then, if you're lucky, there is this period of preparing to die if you like, a very interesting stage of life in itself. People say how lucky you are to have a gift, although what you do with that gift it has nothing to do with luck. But the really great thing is that it clarifies your life. Most people have to experiment with lots of different things with greater or lesser levels of satisfaction. So it has been a huge simplification of life to know that you are on the right path as both a performer and now as a retired performer. I've always trusted that there is a purpose to my life.
Opera made up about a third of my life and so did recording, but I couldn't have lived without the concert repertoire as well'. She explains that there is 'one less layer' between the singer and audience in a recital. 'You are responsible for everything. You are the guide and whether the audience follows is solely down to you. The music emerges from a place in your gut that is completely your idea of how to serve the composer and the poet so there is no hiding place. You hold something very precious in your hands for two hours and God help you if you drop it'."
- Nicholas Wroe, THE GUARDIAN, 13 July, 2012
"You can’t expect anyone else to help you get through life, but if you have a relationship with God which gives you an absolute bedrock then you’re given a tremendous strength which no other human being could give you.
Everything that I learnt during my working days in order to set foot on a platform and open myself to other people, all that discovery through my job has made possible the last half of my life. Without that career and all the blessings of it, I don’t think I’d be able to cope with not being able to do it anymore, (a terrible bereavement in itself) or with the lessons of recent years. I feel so lucky to have had this gift in my life which has permeated everything that I am. I come to the end of my life feeling resting in a sort of gratitude that I’ve done what I think I was born to. I like to think I’ve done my best for my composers and librettists."
- Janet Baker
“Don’t confuse your God-given talent with your self. Talent is something you’re entrusted with: respect it. And don’t believe your own publicity!”
- Janet Baker in interview with Rupert Christiansen, THE TELEGRAPH, 5 Oct., 2011