Post by Louis
Sad news indeed... A great voice with an incredible range of emotions.
Very sad news indeed. I saw him "live" only once, an all-Schubert recital
at San Francisco's Masonic Auditorium c. 1975. But of his many recordings
-- how many, hundreds, most likely? -- I have quite a few (including that
big Schubert box).
Here is the obituary from Gramophone:
Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has died aged 86
Born May 28, 1925; Died May 18, 2012
Fri 18th May 2012
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (photo: Harald Hoffmann/DG)
Celebrated German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has died at the age of
86, just 10 days before his 87th birthday. One of the giants in the
tradition of Lieder interpretation, Fischer-Dieskau featured prominently in
Gramophone's Hall of Fame.
Fischer-Dieskau emerged as a performer following the Second World War, and
established a style of interpretation that focused on the poetry allied to
an extraordinary control of timbre, tone and colour which gave his
performances remarkable insight. Often working with Walter Legge as
producer, Fischer-Dieskau's style with its strong focus on the text is
often compared with that of his contemporary and frequent partner Elisabeth
Schwarzkopf. He was frequently partnered by Gerald Moore, Jörg Demus,
Daniel Barenboim and Alfred Brendel, among other pianists. His work in the
opera house was very wide-ranging, and linguistically broad (taking in
Mozart, Strauss, Verdi, Wagner as well as modern works) but it was in song
that he was unequalled. The baritone part in Britten's War Requiem was one
of numerous works written for him.
Here is the obituary from The Guardian:
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the distinguished German baritone, has died aged
86. His Protean career was surely unique, as he sang and recorded more
vocal music than any who came before. In particular, he broached more
lieder (German songs) than any of his predecessors of the genre, his
recordings running into the hundreds. Many of these songs he recorded
several times over: for instance, he made no fewer than eight recordings of
Schubert's Winterreise cycle alone.
This truly incredible output was the result of an inquiring mind, an
insatiable desire to tackle any and every song he could find, and to be a
proselytiser for the art of lieder and singing in general, all these
underlined by an instinctive wish to achieve perfection in his craft. More
than that, he was an inspiration to the vast number of singers who have
followed his example in this field, and made the singing of lieder a common
experience, not to forget the audience he created for this kind of music-
making. Go to the Wigmore Hall, London, any week or look at the myriad
discs of songs pouring off the CD presses, and you will hear the benefits
of his pioneering effort.
Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin and studied there with the veteran
lieder artist Georg Walter, then after the second world war with Hermann
Weissenborn, who partnered him at the piano in early recitals. But many of
his first successes were in opera in Berlin. After his stage debut there,
at the City Opera as Posa in Don Carlos in 1948, he was heard in most of
the major baritone roles, Italian and German, in the house. From 1949
onwards he was appearing regularly at the Vienna State Opera and at the
Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He also sang at the Bayreuth festival from
1954 to 1956 as the Herald (Lohengrin), Wolfram, Kothner and Amfortas.
In 1961 he created, magnificently, the ego-mad Mittenhofer in Henze's Elegy
for Young Lovers at the Schwetzingen festival and in 1978 the title role in
Reimann's Lear at Munich, an overwhelming portrayal. His Covent Garden
debut came in 1965 when he created an immense impression as the impassioned
Mandryka in a new production of Richard Strauss's Arabella under Georg
Solti. He returned later to portray Verdi's Falstaff, a large-scale but
somewhat unidiomatic reading.
Among roles in which he was unforgettable and which he recorded for
posterity are Count Almaviva, Don Giovanni, the Flying Dutchman, Wolfram in
Tannhäuser, Teiramund in Kempe's classic set of Lohengrin, Busoni's Faust,
Hindemith's Mathis, Mandryka, Barak in Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten,
and both Oliver and the Count in the same composer's Capriccio.
One of Fischer-Dieskau's first and most moving portrayals on disc was as
Kurwenal in Wilhelm Furtwängler's legendary 1952 recording of Tristan und
Isolde. Another classic recording with the German conductor was of Mahler's
Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesselen. He twice recorded the same composer's Das
Lied von der Erde, more usually sung by mezzos, first under Paul Kletzki,
then with Leonard Bernstein, and made it very much his own.
Tall, with expressive features, Fischer-Dieskau was a riveting figure on
stage and a not inconsiderable actor. Nobody who caught him as Mandryka,
Mathis or Wolfram is likely to forget the experience.
His enormous repertory also included many choral works. Besides recording
many of Bach's cantatas, he was a sympathetic Christ in both that
composer's Passions, an imposing Elijah and one of the original soloists in
Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, the baritone contributions written
specifically for him. Britten in 1965 composed his Songs and Proverbs of
William Blake for Fischer-Dieskau, just one of the many commissions his
Yet it was with his lieder accomplishments that he achieved his greatest
deeds. He recorded all the songs of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Hugo Wolf
and Strauss suitable for a male voice. He worked on them first with Gerald
Moore, doyen of pure accompanists, and then was partnered by a host of
distinguished solo pianists and the conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch, each of
whom inspired him to refreshingly new insights.
Fischer-Dieskau had a full, firm and resonant baritone, which could be
honed down to the most delicate mezza voce. It was used with the utmost
care in managing and projecting the text. He could on occasion be too
emphatic in his treatment of words and was sometimes accused of overloading
climaxes, but these were only the downside of a singer who was totally
immersed in everything he undertook. An excellent linguist, he was almost
as happy singing in Italian, French and English as in his native tongue,
and he spoke English with virtually no accent.
In a career lasting more than 40 years, there was, as the years went by,
inevitably some deterioration in his tone, but he compensated for the
decline with a new lightness of approach and an even deeper penetration
into the meaning of each song, as his 1986 recording of Winterreise with
Alfred Brendel reveals. After he had retired from singing in 1992, he took
up another career reciting literary texts, often associated with song. He
was also willing to give private lessons to carefully chosen singers to
whom he imparted his immense experience as an interpreter.
He published a book of memoirs, Nachklang, in 1987, translated into English
as Echoes of a Lifetime. It was an unusual autobiography in showing a man
who, for all his many achievements, was uncertain of himself. That
reflected the impression made when you met him. He was initially shy, but
you always felt that behind the quizzical, sly, humorous eye and manner lay
a man of philosophical bent, perhaps amazed himself at what his genius, for
it was no less, had led him to achieve.
He is survived by his fourth wife, the soprano Julia Varady, whom he
married in 1977, and three sons by his first wife, the cellist Irmgard
Poppen, who died in 1963.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone singer, born 28 May 1925; died 18 May
And here is the obituary from Billboard.com:
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