Elizabeth Rainforth

Elizabeth Rainforth (1814–1877), was a British soprano opera and concert singer, and music arranger of the 19th century.

Elizabeth Rainforth in Bickerstaffe and Arne's Love in a Village in 1838[1]


Elizabeth Rainforth was born in November 1814. She was the daughter of Sampson Rainforth, a custom-house officer,[2] and she became a pupil of Tom Cooke, Domenico Crivelli, and George Perry, and subsequently, for dramatic action, of Mrs. Davison.[3]

She first sang in public at the vocal concerts, 29 February 1836, when she sang an aria from Der Freischütz. Her success was so pronounced as to lead to an immediate engagement for the succeeding concert in March. On 27 October in the same year Miss Rainforth made her stage début as Mandane in Thomas Arne's Artaxerxes at the St James's Theatre, and for many seasons she was a popular dramatic singer at this theatre, the English Opera House, Covent Garden, and Drury Lane. At the same time her services as a concert-singer were in great demand. In 1837 she appeared in oratorio under the auspices of the Sacred Harmonic Society[3] and in 1838 she was pictured in Bickerstaffe and Arne's Love in a Village in 1838.[1] On 18 March 1839 she sang at the Philharmonic concerts; and in 1840 at the Concerts of Ancient Music. In 1836 and 1842 she was a principal singer at the Norwich Festival. In 1843 and 1845 her success at the Birmingham Festival and at the Worcester festival was no less emphatic; in 1844 she was performing in Dublin. On 27 November 1843 she created the rôle of Arline in Balfe's The Bohemian Girl.[3]

Rainforth appears to have been responsible for introducing the public to Lady Nairn's Jacobite song, The Hundred Pipers, some five or more years after that lady's death. Rainforth lived in Edinburgh from 1851[4] or 1852 to 1856,[3] and contemporary publications post reviews of her performance of the song in the capital;[5] and she published the song with her own (and the now standard) musical arrangement in 1852.[6][7][8]

She retired from public life in 1859, and until 1871 she taught singing at Windsor. In 1871 she withdrew to Chatterton Villa, Redland, Bristol, where she died 22 September 1877.[3]

Critical appraisalEdit

According to the Dictionary of National Biography, Miss Rainforth was an admirable singer, but lacked sufficient power to place her in the foremost rank of great sopranos.[3]


The Hundred Pipers, music arranged by Elizabeth Rainforth - sheet music cover c.1852
  1. ^ a b British Museum.
  2. ^ Gilliland 2004.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Legge 1897.
  4. ^ Fuld 2000.
  5. ^ Weekly Review 1852.
  6. ^ The University of Reading.
  7. ^ Brown 1901.
  8. ^ Kuntz 2010.
Works cited
  • Andrew Kuntz (2010). "The Fiddler's Companion HUN-HY". The Fiddler’s Companion. Ibiblio. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  • Brown, James Duff (1901). Characteristic Songs and Dances of All Nations. Edinburgh: Bayley & Ferguson. p. 24. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  • Fuld, James J. (2000). The Book of World-famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk. Toronto: General Publishing Company Ltd. p. 656. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  • J. Gilliland (2004). "R. H. Legge, 'Rainforth, Elizabeth (1814–1877)'". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  • Legge, Robin Humphrey (1896). "Rainforth, Elizabeth" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  • "The Hundred Pipers: the celebrated Jacobite song from mss. lays of Strathearne". Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers. The University of Reading. c. 1850. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  • "British Museum number 1852,1009.726". British Museum Collection Image Gallery. British Museum. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  • The Weekly review and dramatic critic. v.1-3 (1852-53). Edinburgh: H. Robinson. 1852. p. 48. Retrieved 27 January 2015.

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLegge, Robin Humphrey (1896). "Rainforth, Elizabeth". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co.