Recordings from the Archives [4CD]

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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin on 28 May 1925 to parents who were both academics. He sang as a child but only started vocal lessons at the age of 16. Two years later he was drafted into the army on completion of his secondary school studies and one term at the Berlin Conservatoire. He was taken prisoner whilst in Italy in 1945 and spent two years as an American prisoner of war during which time he sang lieder in their camps. On return to Germany the indisposition of a major soloist gave him a chance to sing in Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem which he did even without rehearsal. He gave first lieder recital in Leipzig in Autumn 1947 and a successful concert debut at Berlin's Titania-Palast followed soon afterwards.

The next year the opera beckoned with an engagement as principal lyric baritone at Berlin's state and guest appearances in Vienna and Munich. Concert tours to France, Italy and the Netherlands brought him to the notice of those outside his own language countries. At 26 he sang Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Wilhelm Furtwängler at the Salzburg Festival, the same year as his debut in Britain singing Delius A Mass of Life with Sir Thomas Beecham. That year also marked the beginning of a long association with the piano accompanist, Gerald Moore.

In his book "Am I too loud?" Moore recalls how "he had only to sing one phrase before I knew I was in the presence of a master". Although opera continued to form a significant part of his career with regular appearances at the festivals of Bayreuth (1954 - 1961) and Salzburg (1956 - early 1970s) and other houses, he was also a great performer in Choral works, it is good that he committed his Elijah and Paulus in Mendelssohn's oratorios as well as his deeply-felt Christus in the Bach Passions to disc, but, in the final analysis, it is with Lieder (or art songs) that he will always be primarily remembered.

He had a indefatigable desire to discover the entire range of the Lied, particularly that which employed great poetry. It was not just a case of performing the greats - Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Wolf and Richard Strauss - but to inspire a new generation of composers to express themselves in setting the written word. One of the modern greats who answered his call was Britten who, besides, writing a major part in his War Requiem, wrote Songs and Proverbs of William Blake with his distinctive voice in mind, others have included Barber, Henze and Lutos3awski. Since retiring from singing in 1992 he has conducted, written and painted but his genius will be carried forward in his teaching of this generation, and through his recordings, those to come - how to sing with supreme tonal quality employing a remarkable sound palette, exceptional rhythmic sense and impeccable diction.


EMI Classics (UK)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Various Artists
Recordings from the Archives [4CD]
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