Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (born May 28, 1925) is regarded by many as the finest Lieder singer of his generation. He is greatly admired for his interpretations and the tonal qualities and shadings of color in his voice. Fischer-Dieskau also performed and recorded many operatic roles.

Early years

Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin to Albert, a principal, and Dora, a teacher. He started singing as a child and began formal voice lessons at age sixteen. When he was drafted into the Wehrmacht 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.

Singing career

In 1947, he returned to Germany where he launched his professional career as a singer in Badenweiler when he sang in Brahms' German Requiem without any rehearsal -- he was a last-minute substitute for a singer who was indisposed. He gave his first lieder recital in Leipzig in the fall of 1947 and followed it soon afterward with a highly successful first concert at Berlin's Titania-Palast.

In the fall of 1948, Fischer-Dieskau was engaged as principal lyric baritone at the Berlin State Opera, making his debut as Posa in Verdi's Don Carlos under Ferenc Fricsay. Subsequently, Fischer-Dieskau made guest appearances at the opera houses in Vienna and Munich. After 1949 made concert tours in England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Italy. In 1951, he made his Salzburg Festival concert debut with Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer under Wilhelm Furtwngler. 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 at 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 concert tour in the United States took place in 1955, and he gave his first lieder recital at New York City's Carnegie Hall in 1964.

In 1951, Fischer-Dieskau made his first recordings of lieder with the pianist Gerald Moore, EMI Studios, London; they performed and recorded frequently until the latter's retirement in 1967 and were renowned above all for their performances of Franz Schubert.

Fischer-Dieskau also performed many works of contemporary music, including Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, Hans Werner Henze, Ernst Krenek, Witold Lutoslawski, Siegfried Matthus, Winfried Zillig, Gottfried von Einem and Aribert Reimann.

In his 1972 essay "The Grain of the Voice", French literary critic Roland Barthes said that Fischer-Dieskau "... reigns more or less unchallenged over the recording of vocal music."

Fischer-Dieskau retired from the concert hall in 1992 and dedicated himself to conducting, teaching (especially Lieder), painting, writing books etc..

Personal life

In 1949, Fischer-Dieskau married 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 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.


  • The Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder: The Original Texts of over 750 Songs, translated by Richard Stokes and George Bird. Random House, 1977. (ISBN 0394494350)
  • Reverberations: The Memoirs of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, translated by Ruth Hein. Fromm International, 1989. (ISBN 0880641371)
  • Robert Schumann Words and Music: The Vocal Compositions, translated by Reinhard G. Pauly. Hal Leonard, 1992. (ISBN 0931340063)
  • Schubert's Songs: A Biographical Study. Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. (ISBN 0394480481)
  • Wagner and Nietzsche, translated by Joachim Neugroschel. Continuum International, 1976.

Further reading

Neunzig, Hans A. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Trans. Kenneth S Whitton. Gerald Duckworth & Co, 1998. (ISBN 0715628186)

Whitton, Kenneth S. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Mastersinger Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1981. (ISBN 0841907285)

External links

ja:ディートリヒ・フィッシャー=ディースカウ lb:Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau no:Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sv:Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau


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