From the Vaults: George Jellinek's Tribute to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Friday, May 18, 2012

In this 2003 edition of The Vocal Scene, George Jellinek presents art song recordings by the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who died on May 18 at age 86.

Fischer-Dieskau recorded more art songs than any other artist in history, said Jellinek in his introduction. He began his career logically by recording the song masterpieces of Schubert, Beethoven and Brahms. But as his fame grew his interests widened and eventually took on encyclopedic proportions.

This episode includes songs by Beethoven, Schubert, Meyerbeer, Wolf, Strauss, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Peter Cornelius in recordings from the 1950s through the '80s.

This show airs on WQXR on Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 12 pm, and on the Operavore stream on Friday at 7 pm; Saturday at 1 pm and 10 pm; and Sunday at 10 am and 8 pm


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Comments [15]

Steve Kur from Jersey City, NJ

I've always loved Mr. Dieskau's voice; I can't remember whether I heard him years ago at The Met Opera as Barak (it may have been Walter Berry), but I know I at least HEARD him in that Strauss role.

And I love the Bernstein recoring I have of DFD singing the title role in Verdi's "Falstaff"--brilliant conducting and singing.

First, Donna Summer, then Andy Gibb, and now(SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST), Mr. Dieskau.

I am truly saddened by his passing.

May. 21 2012 03:15 PM
Brian York from UK.

I agree with all of the comments. DFD was a truly great man. I heard him in all-Schubert recital in 1968 at Edinburgh Festival, with Jorg Demus.I will never forget that presence, that beautiful, manly voice, so long as I live. DFD was fastidious about his accompanist`s interpretation as well, and also about the piano. He insisted on a Bosendorfer, so the Tovey Bosendorfer was borrowed from the University, making for a perfect trilogy of DFD, Demus, Bosendorfer. Schubert must have been very happy that evening. Certainly the audience was, as they received a standing ovation, and gave seven encores.

May. 21 2012 08:18 AM
herbert adler from Brooklyn, New York

Sharing such cosmic sensibnilities George Jellinek and Fischer Diskau are kindred souls. "Ther vocal scene" endure forever A divine providence playing out in their common humanity.

May. 19 2012 10:16 PM
Nancy Wight from New York City

I am enormously saddened by the death of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. I feel so fortunate to have heard him live on so many occasions and also in a vocal duet recital with Janet Baker. I even heard him in a semi-staged opera performance of Gluck's Orfeo and Euridice at Carnegie Hall in the 1960's. It was always such a great event. I recently bought a CD of Fischer-Dieskau conducting the Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Konzerthausorhester Berlin. The piano soloist is Konstantin Lifschitz. I highly recommend this divine CD on Orfeo.

Nancy Wight

May. 19 2012 05:13 PM
Kathryn Jenkins from New York City

I first heard DFD 30+ years ago. I was just beginning to study German, a friend was taking voice lessons, and those two circumstances resulted in my purchase of FD's recording of Kindertotenlieder with Karl Böhm. I was instantly hooked, and his recordings have been part of my life ever since. They led me to explore and love far more music than I would have otherwise encountered, and to appreciate other singers whom I am sure that I would not otherwise have discovered. The loss of such a mind — knowledge, talent, life experience — is difficult to accept. This morning as I went about my work, I found a few minutes to pull out my iPod and listen to a song I had heard him perform at Carnegie Hall, Schumann's "Der Einsiedler". That performance was one of the most perfect things I have ever heard. I'm quoting the final stanza, as it seems fitting:

O Trost der Welt, du stille Nacht!
Der Tage hat mich so müd gemacht,
das weite Meer schon dunkelt;
laß ausruhn mich von Lust und Not,
bis daß das ewge Morgenrot
den stillen Wald durchfunkelt.

May. 19 2012 02:09 PM

Good-bye Mr. D. Everytime I open a window and hear the birds chirping or the wind rustling I know it's really you up there singing in that celestial choir. WILL TRULY MISS YOU!

May. 19 2012 07:08 AM
Karen Davidowitz from Flushing, NY

A really special voice has been silenced! How wonderful were his recordings of Bach cantatas, Passions & the b minor Mass. Well I guess the chorus of the Heavenly Hosts has a new baritone in their midst! Good for them, not so good for us, but DFD will remain with us for ever through his wonderful recordings!

May. 18 2012 11:47 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

George Jellinek's cornucopia of interviews and recordings upon which he commented should be archived in such a manner as to be accessible to students, artists and the general public.

May. 18 2012 07:57 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from R

DIETRICH FISCHER-DIESKAU will be remembered as an artist whose art reflected the composer's intentions without artifice or exaggeration or undue resort to lacrymosity, gushiness, or prolongation of notes simply for displaying that ability. I have seen him in concert at what was known as Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in NYC and abroad where his following is like that of a rock star. Besides being the possessor of a voice of unique and warm textured timbre, he was a good musician and his dramatic instincts were not fostered with a desire for sensationalism. So, one may consider them authortive. RIP, DIETRICH, YOUR RECORDS WILL EXTOL YHOUR TALENT AND HOW YOU GAVE LIFE TO THE MASTERPIECES YOU SANG !!! I am a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor, the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where all the roles of Wagner and Shakespeare are coached, and an opera composer of “Shakespeare” and “The Political Shakespeare." I have sung, and commercially recorded LIVE for Valhalla Records CDs four main hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium, solo concerts, three of them three hours long. I well remember the George Jellinek interview program with DIETRICH when it was originally broadcast with those iconic recordings. George Jellinek's programs with the interviews and the commentaries on recordings should be repeated for this era's ears and be available as a valued resource to artists and the general public. George Jellinek's cornucopia of interviews and recordings upon which he commented

May. 18 2012 07:46 PM
John Spencer from Florida

May he rest in peace. DFD will never be replaced.

My first hearing was when I was in the Army in Erlangen Germany. (1967)

It was the Recording of "The War Requiem". Composer B. Britten.

May. 18 2012 05:17 PM
Eugene B. Kordahl from New Orleans, LA

With the passing of DFD, my circle of living operatic champions dwindles once again and reminds me that while the new performers are certainly talented, there have been benchmarks in my life that are very, very hard to beat.


I'm standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads his white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

He is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last he hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.  Then someone at my side says,  'There, he goes.' Gone where?  Gone from my sight - that is all.

He is just as large in mast and hull and spars as he was when he left my side and just as able to bear his load of living freight to the places of destination.

His diminished size is in me, not in him.  And just at the moment when someone at my side says 'There, he goes!',  there are other eyes watching his coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout 'Here he comes.'

May. 18 2012 05:15 PM
lynn silberman from manhattan

his was the first great voice i ever heard, and all my life has been my standard for lieder singers. the intelligence and emotional power of his interpretations has not been surpassed, in my estimation.

May. 18 2012 05:13 PM
gregg mayer from manhattan

thank you. My most favorite singer in the whole world since 1960 when I discovered DFD. May he rest in peace. May he and George Jellinek be somewhere together right now, having a great chat about the Vocal Scene.


May. 18 2012 04:46 PM
Jennie Stein from New York, NY

I still have his beautiful record of duets with Victoria de los Angeles, and just listened to it a few weeks ago on my old turntable. An unlikely but charming pairing.

May. 18 2012 04:18 PM
Steve Reade from Randolph, NJ

Growing up with classical music in the 60's, Diskau was the giant, the great hero, the icon. Let me bid him "Farewell" in German:

"Lebe wohl, Meister! Lebe wohl."

May. 18 2012 04:03 PM

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