(Born 28 May 1925 in Berlin)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was a German lyric baritone (now retired).
He has often been considered as one of the "supreme vocal artists of the 20th century."
The French called him "Le miracle Fischer-Dieskau" and soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf called him "a born god who has it all."
Hugely admired both for his interpretive insights and exceptional control of his beautiful voice Fischer-Dieskau has performed and recorded many operatic roles as well as many other areas of music such as lieder and art songs and is one of the most recorded artists of all time.
For over thirty years he dominated the opera stages and concert platforms.
Musicologist Alan Blyth said of him, "No singer in our time, or probably any other has managed the range and versatility of repertory achieved by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Opera, Lieder and oratorio in German Italian or English came alike to him, yet he brought to each a precision and individuality that bespoke his perceptive insights into the idiom at hand."
In addition, he recorded in French, Russian, Hebrew and Hungarian.
Despite a vocal technique that was highly accomplished, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's voice was rather light, a lyric-chamber baritone and certainly was not laden with limitless or overwhelming power.
The amazing thing is that despite this, he still performed and recorded many heavy heroic baritone and bass-baritone operatic roles such as Wotan, Hans Sachs, Amfortas, Iago, Macbeth, Scarpia, and Jokanaan with authority and distinction.
Begining his career mainly in the lieder repertoire collaborating in recordings with Elizabeth Schwartzkopf and her husband Walter Legge he moved into the opera world in 1948 giving a performance at the Städtische Oper Berlin (Municipal Opera, West Berlin), making his debut as Posa in Verdi's Don Carlos. This company was later to become the Deutsche Oper and Fischer- Dieskau would remain there at what he considered his artistic home until his retirement from the operatic stage in 1978.
Following his debut he guested at opera houses in Vienna and Munich and in 1949 he made his British debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London for the Festival of Britain.
Between 1954 and 1961 he made regular opera appearances at Bayreuth and also at the Salzburg Festival from 1956 until the early 1970s.
On the opera stage Fischer-Dieskau mainly performed in Berlin and at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
He made guest appearances at the Vienna State Opera and at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the Hamburg State Opera, in Japan, and at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh.
In the USA he toured for a series of recitals with world renowned pianist Gerald Moore.
Aside from the myriad of performed contemporary and classical rep he performed and recorded Fischer-Dieskau recorded performances (in the Italian operatic field) such as Verdi's Rigoletto (with Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi) and Rodrigo in Verdi's Don Carlos. He also recorded Verdi's Macbeth (with Elena Souliotis) and played Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La Traviata, and Scarpia in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca (with Birgit Nilsson).
In 1978 he recorded his final opera Aribert Reimann's Lear and then retired from the opera stage.
It is fair to say that Dietrich Fischer Dieskau was an exceptional artist particulary in the non operatic areas of music- lieder/contemporary music/ art songs etc are all areas where he had few peers.
His readings of lieder and art songs set standards by which others are still measured today. Because of his strong stamp on these areas of music it is hardly surprising that his opera contributions will forever be slightly overshadowed by these.
He remains nonetheless an aristrocrat in the world of music and one of the most memorable and revered singers of the 20th Century.