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William Ludwig

Born Dublin 1847, died London 1923.

Between 1880 and 1900 he was one of the most famous baritones in Britain. He also toured extensively in the United States where he sang to great acclaim. He was regarded as one of the great Wagnerian interpreters of his time. To many people he was the definitive Flying Dutchman. He also toured with concert parties, eventually leading his own tours.

At the time of his death he warranted obituaries on the front page of The Freeman's Journal, The Irish Times and The Irish Independent. However there was no obituary in The Times or The New York Times.

The latter days of his life were blighted by a loss of his voice around 1910 and having been a great supporter of charities all his life he depended on a benefit concert to purchase an annuity to see him through his last days.

This is the story of a man who rose from humble beginnings to describing his stay in New York as "with the Mayor". He also supplied John McCormack with a letter of introduction to (Sir) Henry Wood.

Researching William was hampered initially by the fact that his real name was William Ledwidge. None of the standard reference works mentions William Ledwidge. I discovered his stage name purely by chance.

In the latter stages of his life he called himself William Ludwig even on travel documents and the 1901 census forms. It was only through the help of Clive Jacobs, Derek Walsh, Peter Goulding, Kiaran Goddard and Mark Ignatovich that I have managed to progress the story this far. Last month Derek sent me the only image of Ludwig that I know of. I still hope that there is a recording out there made by the great baritone. 

June 2006

The Penny Illustrated has revealed another illustration of Ludwig. August 2006

New information suggests that Ludwig visited Canada. August 2007

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