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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (born 28 May 1925) is a retired German lyric baritone and conductor of classical music, one of the most famous lieder (art song) performers of the post-war period. At his peak, he was greatly admired for his interpretive insights and nearly perfect control of his beautiful voice. He was notable, too, for his exceptional rhythmic sense and incisive diction (sometimes, critics asserted, at the expense of an ideally smooth legato vocal line). Fischer-Dieskau has also performed and recorded many operatic roles.

Although his vocal technique was highly accomplished -- particularly when modulating his volume from mezza-voce to ppp -- Fischer-Dieskau's voice was rather light, with less-than-overwhelming power. Despite this, he performed and recorded such heroic bass-baritone roles as of Richard Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer, Wotan, Hans Sachs, Friedrich von Telramund, Amfortas or of Richard Strauss, Mandryka, Jochanaan, Orest, and the baritone roles of Verdi, Iago, Renato, Macbeth, Rigoletto, Falstaff and of Puccini, Scarpia.

Contents

Early years

Albert Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin to Albert, a school principal, and Dora, a teacher. He started singing as a child and began formal voice lessons at the age of 16. When he was drafted into the Wehrmacht during World War Two, in 1943, Fischer-Dieskau had just completed his secondary school studies and one semester at the Berlin Conservatory. He was captured in Italy in 1945 and spent two years as an American prisoner of war. During that time, he sang lieder in PoW camps to homesick German soldiers.

Singing career

In 1947, he returned to Germany where he launched his professional career as a singer in Badenweiler, singing in Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem without any rehearsal. (He was a last-minute substitute for an indisposed singer.) He gave his first lieder recital in Leipzig in the autumn of 1947 and followed it soon afterwards with a highly successful first concert at Berlin's Titania-Palast.

From early in his career he collaborated with famous lyric sopranos Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, and the recording producer Walter Legge, issuing instantly-successful albums of lieder by Schubert and Hugo Wolf.

In the autumn of 1948, Fischer-Dieskau was engaged as principal lyric baritone at the Städtische Oper Berlin (Municipal Opera, West Berlin), making his debut as Posa in Verdi's Don Carlos under Ferenc Fricsay. This company, known after 1961 as the Deutsche Oper, would remain his artistic home until his retirement from the operatic stage, in 1978.

Subsequently, Fischer-Dieskau made guest appearances at the opera houses in Vienna and Munich. After 1949 he made concert tours in the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Italy. In 1951, he made his Salzburg Festival concert debut with Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) under Wilhelm Furtwängler. That year, he also made his British debut, at the Royal Albert Hall in London during the Festival of Britain. In 1956, Fischer-Dieskau made his Boston performance debut for the Peabody Mason Concert series,[1] and appeared again in 1958.[2] He appeared in Frederick Delius's A Mass of Life, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.[3] He made regular opera appearances at the Bayreuth Festival between 1954 and 1961 and at the Salzburg Festival from 1956 until the early 1970s.

As an opera singer, Fischer-Dieskau performed mainly in Berlin and at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He also made guest appearances at the Vienna State Opera, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, at the Hamburg State Opera, in Japan, and at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh, during the Edinburgh Festival. His first tour in the United States took place in 1955, when he was 29, with his concert debut in Cincinnati on 15 April (J. S. Bach's Kreuzstab cantata) and 16 April (Ein Deutsches Requiem). His American lieder debut, singing Franz Schubert songs, took place in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on 19 April. His New York City debut occurred on 2 May at The Town Hall, where he sang Schubert's song cycle Winterreise without intermission. Both American recitals were accompanied by pianist Gerald Moore.

In 1951, Fischer-Dieskau made his first of many recordings of lieder with Gerald Moore at the EMI Studios, London. They would perform in recitals until Moore retired from public performance in 1967. They continued, however, to record together until 1972, in which year they completed their massive project of recording all of the Schubert lieder appropriate for the male voice. Gerald Moore retired completely in 1972, and died in 1987, aged 87. Their recordings of Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise are highly prized examples of an artistic partnership.

Fischer-Dieskau also performed many works of contemporary music, including Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, Hans Werner Henze, Karl Amadeus Hartmann (who wrote his Gesangsszene for him), Ernst Krenek, Witold Lutosławski, Siegfried Matthus, Winfried Zillig, Gottfried von Einem and Aribert Reimann.

Beyond his recordings of lieder and the German opera repertoire, Fischer-Dieskau also recorded performances in the Italian operatic field. His recordings of Verdi's Rigoletto (alongside Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi) and Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlos, are probably the most respected of these ventures. Others, such as the title role in Verdi's Macbeth (with Elena Souliotis), Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La traviata, and Scarpia in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca (with Birgit Nilsson), are not delivered by him with the same degree of effectiveness. They display his characteristic perceptiveness and intelligence but lack idiomatic Mediterranean vocal colour and temperament - perhaps, in short, seeming too Germanic.[citation needed] However, as with the operatic interpretations of Schwarzkopf and Maria Callas, Fisher-Dieskau's performances on disc always seem thought out and are often true to the score.[citation needed] Fischer-Dieskau retired from opera in 1978, the year he recorded his final opera, Aribert Reimann's Lear that the composer had written at his suggestion.

He retired from the concert hall as of New Year's Day, 1993, at 67, and dedicated himself to conducting, teaching (especially the interpretation of lieder), painting and writing books. He has still performed as a recitator, reading for example the letters of Strauss to Hugo von Hofmannsthal, read by Gert Westphal, for the Rheingau Musik Festival in 1994. He is also an honorary member of the Robert Schumann Society.

Personal life

In 1949, Fischer-Dieskau married the cellist Irmgard Poppen. Together they had three sons: Mathias (stage designer), Martin (conductor), and Manuel (cellist). Irmgard died in 1963 of complications following childbirth. Afterwards, Fischer-Dieskau was married to the actress Ruth Leuwerik, from 1965 to 1967, and Christina Pugel-Schule, from 1968 to 1975. Since 1977 he has been married to the soprano Julia Varady.

Partial discography

As singer

Fischer Dieskau recorded mainly on the labels EMI, DG and ORFEO.

On video

As conductor

Footnotes

  1. ^ Christian Science Monitor, 24-Oct-1956, Harold Rogers, Boston
  2. ^ Boston Globe, 7-Nov-1958, Kevin Keley, "Superb German Baritone"
  3. ^ Liner notes to Portrait of Dietriech [sic] Fischer-Dieskau, HMV, released by World Record Club

Books

  • The Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder: The Original Texts of over 750 Songs, translated by Richard Stokes and George Bird. Random House, 1977. (ISBN 0-394-49435-0)
  • Reverberations: The Memoirs of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, translated by Ruth Hein. Fromm International, 1989. (ISBN 0-88064-137-1)
  • Robert Schumann Words and Music: The Vocal Compositions, translated by Reinhard G. Pauly. Hal Leonard, 1992. (ISBN 0-931340-06-3)
  • Schubert's Songs: A Biographical Study. Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. (ISBN 0-394-48048-1)
  • Wagner and Nietzsche, translated by Joachim Neugroschel. Continuum International, 1976.
  • Jupiter und ich: Begegnungen mit Furtwängler, Berlin University Press, 2009.

Further reading

  • Neunzig, Hans A. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Trans. Kenneth S Whitton. Gerald Duckworth & Co, 1998. (ISBN 0-7156-2818-6)
  • Whitton, Kenneth S. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Mastersinger Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1981. (ISBN 0-8419-0728-5)

External links


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.]] Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (born 28 May 1925 in Berlin) is a German baritone singer. He is now retired, but for more than 30 years he was thought of by many as the greatest male singer in classical music. He was particularly famous for his singing of Lieder (German art songs), but he was also a superbly great singer of opera as well as a concert singer with orchestras. Later in his career he also conducted.

Fischer-Dieskau had a lyrical baritone voice, not a powerful, heroic voice like a Heldentenor. In spite of that he recorded many operatic roles which are traditionally thought of as being for Heldentenor: Wotan in Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Amfortas in Parsifal, Macbeth in Verdi's opera etc.

He is the most recorded singer of all time.[1]. He sang in many languages as well as German: French, Russian, Hebrew and Hungarian.

Contents

Early years

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin. His parents were teachers. He started singing as a child and began voice lessons at the age of 16. He had to join the German army (the Wehrmacht) during World War II, in 1943. He had only just finished school. He was captured in Italy in 1945 and spent two years as an American prisoner of war. During that time, he sang Lieder in POW camps to homesick German soldiers.

Career

In 1947 he returned to Germany where he started his professional career singing the baritone solo in Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem without any rehearsal. (He was a last-minute substitute for a singer who was ill.) He gave his first Lieder recital in Leipzig later that year.

From early in his career he worked with famous lyric sopranos Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Irmgard Seefried, and the recording producer Walter Legge, producing very popular albums of lieder by Franz Schubert and Hugo Wolf.

In the autumn of 1948, Fischer-Dieskau became principal lyric baritone at the Städtische Oper Berlin (Municipal Opera, West Berlin), making his first opera performance in the role of Posa in Verdi's Don Carlos under the conductor Ferenc Fricsay. This company, known after 1961 as the Deutsche Oper, was to be his artistic home until his retirement from the operatic stage, in 1978.

Fischer-Dieskau made guest appearances at the opera houses in Vienna and Munich. After 1949 he made concert tours in the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Italy. In 1951, he first appeared at a concert in the Salzburg Festival with Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) under Wilhelm Furtwängler. He was starting to appear all over the world: in the Royal Albert Hall, London, Boston, Massachusets and at the Bayreuth Festival.

As an opera singer, Fischer-Dieskau performed mainly in Berlin and at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He also made guest appearances at the Vienna State Opera, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, at the Hamburg State Opera, in Japan, and at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh, during the Edinburgh Festival. His first tour in the United States took place in 1955, when he was 29. For his recitals there he was accompanied by Gerald Moore. He recorded many Lieder with Gerald Moore, and gave many recitals with him until Moore retired in 1967. However, they continued to make recordings after that. Their recordings of the Schubert song cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise were very highly thought of.

Fischer-Dieskau also performed many works by living composers including Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, Hans Werner Henze, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Ernst Krenek and Witold Lutosławski.

Fischer-Dieskau also recorded many famous roles in Italian operas, e.g. Verdi's Rigoletto and Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlos, Scarpia in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca. He retired from opera in 1978.

Fischer-Dieskau's musicianship and technique were always perfect. He retired from the concert hall on New Year's Day, 1993, at 67, and spent his time conducting, teaching (especially the interpretation of Lieder), painting and writing books.

Personal life

In 1949, Fischer-Dieskau married the cellist Irmgard Poppen. Together they had three sons: Mathias, who became a stage designer,Martin (a conductor), and Manuel (a cellist). Irmgard died in 1963 of complications following childbirth. Afterwards, Fischer-Dieskau was married to the actress Ruth Leuwerik, from 1965 to 1967, and Christina Pugel-Schule, from 1968 to 1975. Since 1977 he has been married to the soprano Julia Varady.

References

  1. Matthew Boyden. The Rough Guide to Opera 3rd Edition London: Rough Guides Ltd., 2002








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