The following is extracted from Volume IV of the 1986 edition of South African Music Encyclopedia (J.P. Malan, ISBN 0 19 570311 1)
LLOYD STRAUSS-SMITH, tenor, born 31 January 1921 in Lichtenburg
Lloyd Strauss-Smith's extremely musical family included: a grandfather who conducted church choirs; an aunt, Violette Cowie (stage name: Violette Noveni) who sang with the Leonard Rayne Opera Company in South Africa and with others in Australia and India; and an uncle who was a soloist at municipal concerts in Johannesburg. His own career started at fifteen with Aimée Parkerson who spotted the potential of his voice. After two years' training he made his professional debut. The Second World War intervened, and six years later, after demobilisation, he joined John Connell's National Opera Company and sang tenor parts, for example in Lohengrin (1945).
In 1947 he went to London, where he was to stay, with brief interruptions, for twenty years. There he took roles in more than eighty operas, mostly produced for radio. They included many works by moderns, including British premieres of works by Schönberg, Reizenstein, Dallapiccola, Fricker, and Frank Martin. Two were television firsts: Menotti's The Saint of Bleeker Street and Nino Rota's I Due Timidi in which he sang the principal role. Other activities include some 200 broadcasts of songs and oratorios, appearances with leading orchestras and at the 1965 Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and visits to the continent. He sang the tenor part in Bach's B minor Mass at Naarden in Holland, when Kathleen Ferrier interpreted the contralto arias (1951).
In South Africa he sang the part of Eisenstein in PACT's 1966 production of Die Fledermaus. The next year he took roles in The Bartered Bride and Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Since 1967 he has lived in Cape Town and taught (until 1978) at the College of Music. He has often sung in concerts and opera productions put on by CAPAB and the College of Music.
The following is extracted from Musicus, Volume 30.1 (2002)
LLOYD STRAUSS-SMITH 80
by Barry Smith
Sometimes we South Africans tend to forget all too easily some of our singers who pioneered a place in world music, especially in an age where we seem to recognise younger talent that has ‘made good’ abroad quickly. One of these much neglected figures is the tenor Lloyd Strauss Smith, who turned 80 on 31 January 2001. Part of this neglect is possibly due to the fact that the most active part of his career was spent in England and that, although he sang in more than 80 operas, he was primarily an
oratorio and Lieder singer, a field which attracts less attention than that of the opera world. Born in Lichtenburg in 1921, the young Lloyd and his family moved to Johannesburg when his father died in the early 1930s and was educated at Parktown Boys
High. At an early age he knew that his career would inevitably be in music and his early musical training came from books found in libraries. The information he found in them taught him much of what he needed to know and by the age of 16 he had already written a symphony.
He had sung since boyhood and whilst working in a building society began taking singing lessons with the noted teacher, the British contralto Aimee Parkerson, who later also taught Mimi Coertse. When the war broke out Lloyd enlisted in the South
African Medical Corps and saw service in North Africa, mostly in Egypt. It was here that he gained his early experience in the regular series Music for All, which was largely masterminded by Clifford Harker who was later to have a distinguished career as organist of Bristol Cathedral. Here he sang a great variety of music, both popular and serious, ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in Cairo.
On his return to Johannesburg in 1945 he became principal tenor with John Connell’s National Opera Company of South Africa thus gaining further wideranging experience in operas such as Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Madama Butterfly and Carmen. He also took the principal role in a production of Lohengrin – a remarkable achievement for a singer still in his mid-twenties. By 1947 he had made the decision to move to London to gain further experience and to try his wings in the international scene. As luck would have it, he landed a part in Sir Thomas Beecham’s recording of Delius’ A Village Romeo and Juliet for HMV which proved to be the break he had been hoping for. He was soon on the books of London’s leading agent Ibbs and Tillett, and a regular broadcaster for the BBC.
During his 20 years of singing in England he performed with some of the greatest conductors of the time, including Sir Adrian Boult, Sir John Pritchard, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir David Willcocks, Rafael Kubelik, Rudolph Kempe, Ernest Ansermet, Herman Scherchen, Willem van Otterloo and Thomas Schippers. He also performed under the baton of such famous composers as Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gina-Carlo Menotti, Luigi Dallapiccola and Nono Rota, and with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Philharmonic orchestras. Colleagues on stage and concert platform included such glitterati as Kathleen Ferrier, Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Janet Baker, Leontyne Price and Sir Geraint Evans. Highlights in his career included the first British performances of Janáček’s Jenufa and Nino Rota’s I Due Timidi, the first BBC TV opera production of Menotti’s The Saint of Bleecker Street and Verdi’s Macbeth at the 1965 Glyndebourne Opera Festival.
During his time abroad he returned to South Africa on several occasions to sing in operas for the performing arts boards, operas such as Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Die Zauberflöte as well as Die Fledermaus and The Bartered Bride. In 1967 he decided to return to South Africa to take up a post as lecturer in singing at the University of Cape Town (UCT) College of Music where he taught a number of devoted students until 1977. Before his recent retirement from public singing he was a frequent performer in Cape Town and other parts of the country, singing in countless oratorios, passions and masses as well as giving Lieder recitals and broadcasts. A notable achievement was a recital in a packed Baxter Concert Hall of Schubert Lieder on his seventieth birthday which coincidentally happened to be the same date as Schubert’s birthday. He still teaches singing and has in the past examined for Unisa.
Barry Smith was Associate Professor at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town, and is Organist and Master of the Choristers at St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town