Wagner Biographies

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925 – 2012)

"His greatest achievement as an artist is maybe that he has given us an answer to the eternal question "prima la musica vs prima le parole"? (music, or words first?) He showed us that question in itself is false: in his interpretations, he created a unity between text and music unlike few before or after him. He set the benchmark in enunciation, and he emphasised key words through changing the sound of the note on which the word was sung. Thus, he not only clarified the sense of the word, but he let every syllable and every note sound together and thereby created a unity of harmony and colours unlike anyone else. For the word "death", for example, he didn't only use a different colour when pronouncing it (because he knew it was an extraordinary word), no, he also knew which colour to use for the note on which "death" was sung. He created a new dimension of the comprehensibility and understandability of the text."
Daniel Barenboim in The Guardian




Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at Bayreuth


Tannhäuser (Wolfram von Eschenbach)
Lohengrin (Der Heerrufer)


Tannhäuser (Wolfram von Eschenbach)
Parsifal (Amfortas)


Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Fritz Kothner)
Parsifal (Amfortas)


Tannhäuser (Wolfram von Eschenbach)





Fischer-Dieskau is one of the few singers who take an active interest in contemporary music. His fastidiousness and meticulous preparation were astonishing in the performances of Stravinsky's Abraham and Isaac (in perfect Hebrew!) and in works by Lutoslawski and Aribert Reimann, which I was fortunate enough to perform with him. I also remember doing a recording with him of Il matrimonio segreto by Cimarosa, and it was fascinating to see how he managed, with his mixture of intuition and German thoroughness, to capture the comic aspects of the character as well as the Italian language.
Daniel Barenboim in his autobiography A Life in Music


Selected Biographies



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