She studied with Bodi Rapp, Jo Bollekamp, Sam and Jacoba Dresden-Dhont and later french art song with Pierre Bernac. She won the first prize during the Vocal Concours in 's-Hertogenbosch in Holland (1956) and the Concours International de Musique in Geneva (1958). After her professional début as a concert singer in Rotterdam in 1953, she performed for more than 40 years in virtually every major culture centre in the world. Her frequent appearances with the leading international orchestras and conductors (Bernard Haitink, Rafael Kubelik, Carlo Maria Giulini, Benjamin Britten, Seiji Ozawa, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Kurt Masur, Neville Marriner, Karl Münchinger, André Previn, Edo de Waart among others) established her as one of the greatest singers of our age.
She made her career mainly as a concert and lieder singer with some excursions into opera (Mozart, Haydn) and became world-renowned for her recitals of French and German songs and for her superlative interpretive gifts. She is equally at home in chamber music, orchestral music, operas, and oratorios. She made her U.S. recital debut at New York's Lincoln Center in 1968 and her opera debut in 1974 as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo in Washington, D.C..
Contemporary works, particularly by her countrymen Bertus van Lier and Robert Heppener, are also part of her large repertoire. Ameling has recorded more than 150 albums and has won many coveted recording prizes, including The Edison Award, the Grand Prix du Disque and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. For her services to music, Dr. Ameling has been awarded four honorary degrees and has been knighted by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands for her services to music (the Orde van Oranje Nassau).
Nowadays Elly Ameling is in great demand throughout the world for her masterclasses for singers and their pianists.
- Hamilton, David. (1987). The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to the World of Opera. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo: Simon and Schuster. p. 21. ISBN 0-671-61732-X.
- Sadie, Stanley and John Tyrrell. (2001).The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Vol. 1, p. 462. ISBN 0-333-60800-3.
- Janny de Jong. (1978) "Elly Ameling, vocaal avontuur". The Netherlands, De Gooise Uitgeverij Bussum. ISBN-13: 9789026984044
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