Thomas Quasthoff to Retire from Concert Stage

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 10:46 AM

After nearly 40 years on the concert scene, German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff has decided to retire from singing due to health reasons.

The news was first reported in the German news media on Wednesday and immediately spread across international outlets. It comes on the heels of Quasthoff announcing in September that he was cancelling the remainder of his 2011 engagements due to persistent laryngitis.

In a press release on his Web site (and reposted by arts blogger Norman Lebrecht), Quasthoff stated:

"My health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness. On the contrary, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will now enter my life. I would like to thank all my fellow musicians and colleagues, with whom I stood together on stage, all the organizers, and my audience for their loyalty.”

No further details were given on the nature of Quasthoff's health problems. The 52-year-old singer was born with serious birth defects caused by his mother's exposure during pregnancy to the drug thalidomide. He spent his first years in hospitals and was initially not expected to live long.

In the statement, Quasthoff said he will continue to teach at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin and further his work as artistic director of international song competition “Das Lied,” which launches next year. Not one to take it easy in retirement, Quasthoff will also be a presence at the Konzerthaus Berlin with talk show series “Thomas Quasthoff Nachtgespräche.” The next installment of this program will feature thesp Katharina Thalbach on February 22.

The singer was last heard in New York with an April 2011 concert appearance at Carnegie Hall alongside soprano Sylvia Schwartz, mezzo Bernarda Fink and tenor Michael Schade. In September, he released his latest disc, Tell It Like It Is, featuring covers of pop songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and “Short People.” Of his May 2010 recital at Carnegie Hall, WQXR host Naomi Lewin wrote “The recital went beyond superb singing. Quasthoff's interpretation—or rather, embodiment—of the material was what makes a recital truly great.”

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Comments [3]

John Seabrook from nyc

I'm looking for a Miranda De Kay who is the daughter of HR Knickerbocker. I think my grandfather CF Seabrook knew him in Russia in 1930 and I'm hoping to locate MDK by way of learning more. If you are the poster above pls contact me at jmseabrook@gmail.com. Sorry for the off topic postings. john

Jan. 16 2012 01:54 PM
miranda dekay from ny ny

a loss to the music world

Jan. 12 2012 11:36 AM
Renate Perls from New York City

I first saw Thomas Quasthoff at an early recital of his in Munich. As I was an agent in the music field, I was fortunate to become acquainted with many musicians and the next time I saw Tommy was at an audition for Sir Colin Davis after a rehearsal at the Gasteig in Munich. I silently prayed, "Colin, Take him. Take him. He is wonderful!!!" The third time was at Avery Fisher Hall during rehearsal again for Sir Colin where Tommy was the artist for that concert, came up to where I was sitting and we started to talk. At that time I discovered that not only was he a superb singer, but a lovely, warm, thoughtful, intelligent man. After that we became "backstage friends" and I absolutely adore the man. I was so looking forward to seeing him again and am selfishly heartbroken that he will not be singing in public anymore. Anyone who has not heard him in person has missed the voice of a great artist -- a superb performer and one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.
Thank you, Tommy, for the joy of listening to you sing and for the friendship we had on all too short occasions.

Jan. 11 2012 03:33 PM

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