German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died Friday at the age of 86. Esteemed worldwide as the most influential interpreter of Lieder in the modern era, Fischer-Dieskau was also among the most-recorded singers in classical music. The news of his death was announced by his wife, soprano Julia Varady.
Described as "a born god who has it all" by fellow German singing legend Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, Fischer-Dieskau's career began in 1947 when he sang unrehearsed in a performance of Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem.
While Fischer-Dieskau was best known for his performances of the standard German song repertoire of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler, he was also admired as a soloist in Bach's oratorios, and in operatic roles by Mozart, Wagner and Strauss. He also had a certain success as a conductor.
Time Magazine called Fischer-Dieskau "the world's greatest Lieder singer," and his recording of Schubert's song cycle, Die Winterreise, is considered one of the major achievements in recorded classical music.
For his War Requiem, English composer Benjamin Britten wrote the baritone solos for Fischer-Dieskau to sing, which he did at the world premiere of the piece in 1962.
Fischer-Dieskau is survived by his fourth wife, Varady, and three sons from his first marriage to Irmgard Poppen, who predeceased him in 1963.
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on May 18, 2012