Fischer-Dieskau’s artistic ideals


Last week the world mourned the death of the extraordinary baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, (b 1925) who would have turned 87 on May 28th this year.

Although he worked in all genres  of vocal repertoire, he made his mark in lieder. He was also the link with some of the legends of the 20th century, having worked with conductors Furtwangler, Bohm and Karajan, and the likes of  Gerald Moore, Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten. At the time of his death he was married to soprano Julia Varady.

Fischer-Dieskau was respected not just for his artistry but for his fierce intellect. In the Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder, (Limelight Editions, New York, 1995, p17)  he states most emphatically the artistic ideals of the singer:

” The singer’s voice is ….( symbolically responsible for)….the most direct expression of the harmony of form and content,….It might, given the general shift in emphasis towards the fashionably aesthetic, become the voice of conscience – especially so in an age which, being dominated by technology, the mass and universal levelling, calls for a particular effort to reveal it fully. The interpreter as a…builder of bridges to the new… is left with the glorious task of preserving, by means of immaculate performance, the existing creations of the masters.”

The world media covered Fischer-Dieskau’s life and work in detail, and there is little to add. So, in commemoration of his birth anniversary, SoundsLikeSydney has collated links to tributes from his colleagues Daniel Barenboim and Ian Bostridge which tell of their perspectives of working with him. Also, a collection of select performances on video, gathered by The Guardian – see if you agree with them.

There is another aspect to Fischer-Dieskau’s genius about which little is known.  Read more about this at and check out the You Tube clip:

Links to features:

Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney May 2012.

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