Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Raymond Wesley Beatty (1903–1973)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published:

Raymond Wesley Beatty (1903-1973), bass-baritone and teacher of singing, was born on 22 June 1903 at Narrandera, New South Wales, son of James McIntyre Beatty, schoolteacher, and his wife Marie, née Weissel. He was educated at East Maitland High School and the State Conservatorium of Music, where he studied singing under Roland Foster and in 1923 won the Dame Clara Butt scholarship, followed by two others. In November 1926 he gave the first of many recitals with his fellow-student Heather Jean Kinnaird, contralto, whom he married at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church on 21 August 1935. In 1928 he won the Welsh delegation's vocal championship for New South Wales.

Beatty had a 'robust bass-baritone voice', appeared in conservatorium opera productions, and was successful in oratorio and concert performances with the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney and the Welsh Choral Society. In November 1930 he had an enthusiastic reception at his farewell concert before leaving for Britain next February. He achieved some success in England, singing at orchestral concerts in Bournemouth, Bristol and Northampton; he also sang for the British Broadcasting Corporation and in 1932 gave a recital at the Wigmore Hall, London. Next year he broadcast in the United States of America. On his return in September 1933 the Sydney Morning Herald music critic wrote that, although Beatty's voice retained 'its intrinsic force and quality', he had become over-enthusiastic 'on the subject of diction' and 'the flow of the music was chopped into a disturbing staccato'.

On his honeymoon in New Zealand in 1935, Beatty worked for its Broadcasting Service. Both he and his wife were in demand as soloists and used air travel to keep appointments as far apart as Townsville, Queensland, and Sydney on successive nights. In the 1936 Australian Broadcasting Commission grand opera season of seven months, Beatty, with Florence Austral, sang title roles in Don Pasquale and The Marriage of Figaro, and Dr Bartolo in The Barber of Seville. He toured Australia as a soloist with (Sir) Malcolm Sargent in 1936, 1938 and 1939. He went to New Zealand for the A.B.C. in 1940, achieving an 'outstanding success' at the centenary celebrations—especially as a soloist in Elijah, and as Mephistopheles in a stage production of Gounod's Dr Faustus. He also appeared with Sir Thomas Beecham later that year in Australia. Credited by Foster with over 200 performances in the Messiah, he sang annually in the St Matthew Passion.

On 30 June 1941 Beatty enlisted, saw active service in the Australian hospital ship Manunda and was in Darwin during the bombing; he was discharged on 4 April 1945. He had taught privately since 1934; in 1946-73 he taught singing and voice production at the Conservatorium of Music. He sang in 1947 in A.B.C. concert versions of The Barber of Seville and Peter Grimes.

Beatty lived at Lindfield and enjoyed swimming and tennis for relaxation. Survived by his wife and two sons, he died of cerebro-vascular disease in Royal North Shore Hospital on 5 December 1973 and was cremated with Methodist rites. He had a wide repertoire: as well as arias and oratorio from Mozart, Handel, Brahms, Verdi and Schumann, he was interested in folk-songs, and often included the works of modern British composers.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Foster, Come Listen to My Song (Syd, 1949)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Nov 1926, 3 Dec 1928, 12 Nov 1929, 8, 17 Nov 1930, 9 May, 21 Nov 1931, 23 Jan, 11 June 1932, 1 Nov 1933, 29 Oct 1935, 29 Aug 1936, 20 Nov 1937
  • Argus (Melbourne), 26 Feb 1936.

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Beatty, Raymond Wesley (1903–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 28 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


22 June, 1903
Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia


5 December, 1973 (aged 70)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.