Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

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josé echenique
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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Fri May 18, 2012 8:14 am

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One of the giants of the XX Century passed away. What a great loss.
Last edited by josé echenique on Fri May 18, 2012 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Fri May 18, 2012 8:19 am

German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, considered to be one of the finest interpreters of German art song of the 20th century, has died in Bavaria, 10 days shy of his 87th birthday.

Although he had retired from singing in 1992, for years afterward he continued to conduct and offer master classes, sharing a lifetime of insights with younger singers.

Two of his most notable German pupils were baritones Thomas Quasthoff and Christian Gerhaher.

His flexible, lyric voice, as much as a thick volume of the collected Lieder of Franz Schubert, were as much a part of my childhood as Pokémon or transformers have been to others. Through his dozens of recordings of song and aria — many reinterpreted as the decades went by — he revealed the magical depths and possibilities behind each printed note.

The singer’s repertoire covered the full two-and-a-half centuries of German art song. He also sang opera, but rarely outside Berlin and Munich.

This singer worked best without a set or costumes.

Fischer-Dieskau would conjure entire scenes of love, abandon and grief with a toolbox of inflections, pauses and breaths that he came to wield as a master craftsman and artist.

In his memoirs, Gerald Moore, the equally legendary piano accompanist of the 20th century, wrote of Fischer-Dieskau: “He had only to sing one phrase before I knew I was in the presence of a master.”

The singer’s childhood experiences no doubt had an influence on the power of his artistry.

His first public recital, of Schubert’s Winterreise, was cut short by an Allied bombing raid on Berlin, in 1943. He was 17.

Marc
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Marc » Fri May 18, 2012 9:06 am

A beautiful voice, combined with a complete dedication to the art of music (and speech!): rest in peace, Herr Fischer-Dieskau!

Seán
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Seán » Fri May 18, 2012 9:15 am

This is very sad news indeed. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has left a truly great leagacy, may he Rest in Peace.
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

josé echenique
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Fri May 18, 2012 9:59 am

The BBC has the news in it´s main page, but neither CBS nor NBC cared for the passing of the Master Lieder singer.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Fri May 18, 2012 10:10 am

josé echenique wrote:The BBC has the news in it´s main page, but neither CBS nor NBC cared for the passing of the Master Lieder singer.
The NY Times site, which updates throughout the day, also still has no mention, but I expect this to change. However, the commercial US networks would normally only cover such a death if the person were also some kind of American culture hero like Bernstein.

I must say I was jolted by this news.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by stenka razin » Fri May 18, 2012 10:20 am

In my humble opinion, F-D was the greatest baritone of the second half of the 20th century. His many great recordings are his lasting legacy. He did it all and he did it his way. His voice is one the most familiar and easily recognizable voices of all great singers. He shall truly be missed. May he rest in peace. Sad, sad news. :( :( :( :(


Regards,
Mel :(
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Marc » Fri May 18, 2012 12:27 pm

stenka razin wrote:In my humble opinion, F-D was the greatest baritone of the second half of the 20th century. [....] His voice is one the most familiar and easily recognizable voices of all great singers. [....]
His voice was easy recognizable and so were his initials: F-D, like you wrote it, was sufficient. Every classical music lover knew that quality mark.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Fri May 18, 2012 12:38 pm

The New York Times

May 18, 2012
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Bountiful German Baritone, Dies at 86
By DANIEL LEWIS

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the German baritone whose beautiful voice and mastery of technique made him the 20th century’s pre-eminent interpreter of art songs, died on Friday at his home in Bavaria. He was 86.

His wife, the soprano Julia Varady, confirmed his death to the German press agency DPA.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau was by virtual acclamation one of the world’s great singers from the 1940s to his official retirement in 1992, and an influential teacher and orchestra conductor for many years thereafter.

He was also a formidable industry, making hundreds of recordings that pretty much set the modern standard for performances of lieder, the musical settings of poems first popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. His output included the many hundreds of Schubert songs appropriate for the male voice, the songs and song cycles of Schumann and Brahms, and those of later composers like Mahler, Shostakovich and Hugo Wolf. He won two Grammy Awards, in 1971 for Schubert lieder and in 1973 for Brahms’s “Die Schöne Magelone.”

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau had sufficient power for the concert hall, and for substantial roles in his parallel career as a star of European opera houses. But he was essentially a lyrical, introspective singer whose effect on listeners was not to nail them to their seatbacks, but rather to draw them into the very heart of song.

The pianist Gerald Moore, who accompanied many great artists of the postwar decades, said Mr. Fischer-Dieskau had a flawless sense of rhythm and “one of the most remarkable voices in history — honeyed and suavely expressive.” Onstage, he projected a masculine sensitivity informed by a cultivated upbringing and by dispiriting losses in World War II: the destruction of his family home, the death of his feeble brother in a Nazi institution, induction into the Wehrmacht when he had scarcely begun his voice studies at the Berlin Conservatory.

His performances eluded easy description. Where reviewers could get the essence of a Pavarotti appearance in a phrase (the glories of a true Italian tenor!), a Fischer-Dieskau recital was akin to a magic show, with seamless shifts in dynamics and infinite shadings of coloration and character.

He had the good luck to age well, too. In 1988, at 62, he sang an all-Schumann program at Carnegie Hall, where people overflowed onto the stage to hear him. Donal Henahan, then the chief music critic of The New York Times, noted that Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s voice had begun to harden in some difficult passages — but also that he was tall and lean and handsomer than ever, and had lost none of his commanding presence.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau described in his memoir “Reverberations” (1989) how his affinity for lieder had been formed in childhood. “I was won over to poetry at an early age,” he wrote. “I have been in its thrall all my life because I was made to read it, because it gave me pleasure, and because I eventually came to understand what I was reading.”

He discerned, he said, that “music and poetry have a common domain, from which they draw inspiration and in which they operate: the landscape of the soul.”

Albert Dietrich Fischer was born in Berlin on May 28, 1925, the youngest of three sons born to Albert Fischer, a classical scholar and secondary school principal with relatively liberal ideas about education reform, and his young second wife, Theodora Klingelhoffer, a schoolteacher. (In 1934, Dr. Fischer added the hyphenated “Dieskau” to the family name; his mother had been a von Dieskau, descended from the Kammerherr von Dieskau, for whom J. S. Bach wrote the “Peasant Cantata.”)

Family members knew Dietrich, as he was called, as a shy, private child who nonetheless liked to entertain. He put on puppet shows in which he voiced all the parts, sometimes for an audience of one: his physically and mentally impaired brother, Martin, with whom he shared a room.

Before adolescence Dietrich was inducted into a Hitler Youth group where, he recalled years later, he was appalled by the officiousness as well as the brutality. His father died when he was 12. And he had just finished secondary school and one semester at the Berlin Conservatory when, in 1943, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and assigned to care for army horses on the Russian front. He kept a diary there, calling it his “attempt at preserving an inner life in chaotic surroundings.”

“Poems by Morgenstern,” read one entry. “It is a good idea to learn them by heart, to have something to fall back on.”

“Lots of cold, lots of slush, and even more storms,” read another. “Every day horses die for lack of food.”

It was in Russia that he heard that his mother had been forced to send his brother to an institution outside Berlin. “Soon,” he wrote later, “the Nazis did to him what they always did with cases like his: they starved him to death as quickly as possible.”

And then his mother’s apartment in Lichterfelde was bombed. Granted home leave to help her, he found that all that remained of their possessions could be moved to a friend’s apartment in a handcart. But as early as his second day home, he and his mother began seeking out “theater, concerts, a lot of other music — defying the irrational world.”

Instead of returning to the disastrous campaign in Russia, he was diverted to Italy along with thousands of other German soldiers. There, on May 5, 1945, just three days before the Allies accepted the German surrender, he was captured and imprisoned. It turned out to be musical opportunity: soon the Americans were sending him around to entertain other P.O.W.’s from the back of a truck. The problem was, they were so pleased with this arrangement that they kept him until June 1947. He was among the last Germans to be repatriated.

With all that, he was still only 22 when he returned for further study at the Berlin Conservatory. He didn’t stay long. Called to substitute for an indisposed baritone in Brahms’s German Requiem, he became famous practically overnight. As he said, “I passed my final exam in the concert hall.”

Because of his youth, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau had been in no position to make his own choices in the 1930s and ’40s, so he didn’t encounter the questions about Nazi ties that hung over many a prominent German artist after the war. (The soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, his frequent musical collaborator, repeatedly denied that she had joined the Nazi Party until confronted with evidence in 1983. “It was akin to joining a union,” she said in an explanatory letter to The Times, “and exactly for the same reason: to have a job.”)

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau gave his first professional lieder recital in Leipzig in the fall of 1947. Success followed success, with lieder performances in Britain and other European countries beginning in 1949. He first toured the United States in 1955, choosing for his New York debut to sing Schubert’s demanding Winterreise cycle without intermission.

Meanwhile, he had made his opera debut in 1948, singing Posa in Verdi’s “Don Carlos” at Berlin’s Stadtische Oper (later renamed the Deutsche Oper), where he was hired as principal lyric baritone. He also sang regularly at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and appeared frequently in the opera houses of Vienna, Covent Garden, Salzburg and Bayreuth.

Versatility was not the least of his assets. He tackled everything from Papageno in “The Magic Flute” — who knew that a goofy bird catcher could have immaculate diction? — to heavier parts like Wotan in “Das Rheingold” and Wolfram in “Tannhauser.” He recorded more than three dozen operatic roles, Italian as well as German, along with oratorios, Bach cantatas and works of many modern composers, including Benjamin Britten, whose “War Requiem” he sang at its premiere in 1962.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau was married in 1949 to his sweetheart from his student days, the cellist Irmgard Poppen. They had three sons: Matthias, who became a stage designer; Martin, a conductor; and Manuel, a cellist. Ms. Poppen did not live to see them grow: she died of complications after Manuel’s birth in 1963. For her husband, it was a profound, disorienting loss.

He was married again, to the actress Ruth Leuwerik, from 1965 to 1967, and again, to Christina Pugel-Schule, the daughter of an American voice teacher, from 1968 to 1975.

His fourth marriage, to Ms. Varady, the Hungarian soprano, in 1977, was a rewarding match. Like the many artists who studied with him more formally, Ms. Varady found him to be a kindly, constructive and totally unsparing mentor.

His insistence on getting things right comes through vividly in scenes of Mr. Fischer-Dieskau at rehearsal or conducting master class. In a widely circulated video, at the time, of him coaching a young Christine Schäfer, Ms. Schäfer is singing beautifully, or so it would seem to your average mortal, yet the smiling maestro interrupts time and again to suggest something better. And it isn’t merely that he is invariably correct; it’s also that when he rises to sing just a few illustrative notes, the studio is instantly a stage, and he illuminates it with what seems to be an inner light. Even better is a documentary by Bruno Monsaingeon, “Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Autumn Journey” with archival and up-to-date footage of a master at work in his many trades.

Besides making music, he wrote about it — insightful, accessible books about the lives and music of great composers, including Schubert and Schumann. He was a widely exhibited painter, too, known especially for his portraits.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau retired from opera in 1978. He continued giving song recitals through the end of 1992 and then, on New Year’s Day 1993, announced that he would sing onstage no more.

Of the many tributes he received over the decades, perhaps none was more heartfelt than that of the British music critic John Amis:

“Providence gives to some singers a beautiful voice, to some musical artistry, to some (let us face it) neither, but to Fischer-Dieskau Providence has given both. The result is a miracle and that is just about all there is to be said about it.”

Mr. Amis continued, “Having used a few superlatives and described the program, there is nothing else to do but write ‘finis,’ go home, and thank one’s stars for having had the good luck to be present.”

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by THEHORN » Fri May 18, 2012 1:23 pm

Rest in peace Dietrich Fischer Dieskau - you were truly "Der Meistersinger von Berlin ".

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Lance » Fri May 18, 2012 1:49 pm

Oh my ... the title of this thread sounds so FINAL, which it is, of course. But DFD's music will live on. This is totally shocking news. Just late yesterday night I was looking throughout his marvelous EMI multi-CD box ... the red bannered one shown below ... thinking how lucky I am to have so much of his work on discs and the next day he is gone. The world has lost a major, major artist.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Len_Z » Fri May 18, 2012 11:43 pm

Most likely THE best interpreter of German Lieder of the XX century.

I am having a really hard time trying to come up with another name that could aspire to the same title.

If not him, who?

As much as I love Hermann Prey, just the scope of F-D legacy puts him out of reach.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Ricordanza » Sat May 19, 2012 6:39 am

jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:The BBC has the news in it´s main page, but neither CBS nor NBC cared for the passing of the Master Lieder singer.
The NY Times site, which updates throughout the day, also still has no mention, but I expect this to change. However, the commercial US networks would normally only cover such a death if the person were also some kind of American culture hero like Bernstein.
When I checked the NY Times website at around 5 pm on Friday, this item was front and center, with photo. However, no mention on NBC news at 6:30 pm.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Sat May 19, 2012 7:41 am

In addition to the obituary, the Times gives us its music critic's appreciation:

The New York Times

May 19, 2012
The Voice That Made You Fall in Love With Lieder
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI

I was a serious piano student of 16 or so when I decided the time had come to discover what German lieder were all about. The first recording I bought was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert’s “Schöne Müllerin” with the pianist Gerald Moore. This was not Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s first recording of the cycle, from 1951, but the one he made 10 years later, though I knew nothing of this at the time.

I was immediately hooked. It is a tribute to Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s artistic greatness and incomparable legacy that I am just one of countless music lovers who had him as their first guide to the art of the song.

Mr. Fischer-Dieskau died on Friday, just shy of his 87th birthday. The music world knew this day would come. But his death reminds me of the way I felt in 1971, when, then a student at Yale, I went to the music building for a piano lesson and saw a note posted on the door with a message of just four words: “Igor Stravinsky died today.” The death of Mr. Fischer-Dieskau feels comparably monumental.

What captivated me in that first experience of his Schubert was the seemingly effortless mix of vocal beauty and verbal directness. Even when not really following the English translation of the German poems, I hung on every word. His technique was superb. In the manner of the great musical theater performers, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau sang as if he were speaking. And there was nothing quite like his voice: a rich, warm, textured baritone. He could dip into his low range and project phrases with chesty emphasis, and soar high, sounding mellifluous and lyrical with almost tenorish colorings.

My collection of Fischer-Dieskau recordings grew steadily, not just songs of Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Beethoven, Mahler and more, but also his operatic roles. Alas, my experience of his artistry comes mostly from recordings, and in this I am also not alone, at least among Americans. I heard him only in recital. But he sang opera mainly in Berlin, Munich and elsewhere in Europe, and never performed at the Metropolitan Opera.

His voice was probably light for some of the operatic roles he took on, though I remember from his recitals how penetrating and vibrant his sound was. In the theater, as critics and opera buffs consistently reported, he drew listeners in, never forcing his sound, making a virtue of subtlety.

My favorite Fischer-Dieskau opera recording — even more than his distinguished portrayal of Hans Sachs for the conductor Eugen Jochum’s classic account of Wagner’s “Meistersinger” (unrivaled for me) — is Berg’s “Wozzeck,” with Karl Böhm conducting the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, recorded in 1965. Mr. Fischer-Dieskau utterly inhabits the title role, an oppressed, delusional soldier who is forced to do menial tasks for his captain and subjected to medical experiments by a quack doctor in order to earn some money to support his common-law wife (the great Evelyn Lear) and little boy.

Yet touches of refinement and elegance in his singing lend humanity, even tragic stature, to this lowly character. While conveying the sharp contours and modernism of Berg’s atonal musical language, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau reveals the plaintive lyricism of the vocal writing.

How fitting, and a little eerie, that his death comes 12 days before the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Britten’s “War Requiem,” an enormous work for three vocal soloists, chorus, boys’ choir, organ and two orchestras. It was commissioned for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral in England, which had been bombed during World War II.

Britten, a pacifist, incorporated antiwar poems by Wilfred Owen into a setting of the Latin Requiem Mass text. For the premiere performance, as a gesture of reconciliation, Britten wanted as soloists the tenor Peter Pears (an Englishman), the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya (a Russian) and Mr. Fischer-Dieskau (a German), but the Soviets kept Ms. Vishnevskaya from taking part. Britten conducted this shattering work with those soloists for a 1963 recording with the London Symphony Orchestra. Talk about a classic.

Though the statistics are hard to pin down, Mr. Fischer-Dieskau may be the most recorded artist in classical music history. But the stunning range of his recordings of older repertory, which include a survey of the entire catalog of Schubert songs appropriate for the male voice with his faithful collaborator Gerald Moore at the piano, tended to obscure his considerable involvement with contemporary music. He performed operas, concert works and songs by, among others, Hans Werner Henze, Aribert Reimann, Gottfried von Einem and Witold Lutoslawski.

There may have been a slight downside to Mr. Fischer-Dieskau’s reputation as a paragon among lieder singers, a tendency for listeners to take him for granted and search out fresher approaches. But on recording after recording he emerges as a searching and adventurous artist. When he returned to songs he had recorded years and decades earlier, to work with pianists like Sviatoslav Richter, Alfred Brendel and Christoph Eschenbach, he did not simply give his old performances with new partners but threw himself into rethought interpretations.

I get such a kick from a New Yorker cartoon by William Hamilton that appeared in 1975. A Manhattan couple, obviously divorcing, are packing up things and sorting through recordings. In the caption the glowering wife says: “Just a minute! You don’t get three years of my life and the Dietrich Fischer-Dieskaus!”

How poignant that seems today. What could be more central to a person’s well-being than Fischer-Dieskau recordings?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Sat May 19, 2012 7:44 am

Len_Z wrote:Most likely THE best interpreter of German Lieder of the XX century.

I am having a really hard time trying to come up with another name that could aspire to the same title.

If not him, who?

As much as I love Hermann Prey, just the scope of F-D legacy puts him out of reach.
There were other great Lieder singers before DFD of course, like Gerhard Hüsch and of course Hans Hotter, but what DFD did more than anyone else, before or after, was to take Lieder beyond Germany´s borders and put it in the World´s musical map. I have often said, that if a young singer can give a Liederabend in Guadalajara, Mexico, or Cape Town...and have an audience...it´s mostly because of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, really his importance in the XX Century is incommensurable.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by THEHORN » Sat May 19, 2012 9:28 am

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was simply - Der Meistersinger ! RIP .

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by dulcinea » Sun May 20, 2012 1:55 pm

WSMR-FM posted an Schumann Lied in his honour. Very generous of the weasels, stoats, mustelids, rodents, ferrets and martens, who have not played any Lieder since the Presidency of GWB. :( :x :( :x :( :x :( :x :( :x
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 20, 2012 2:10 pm

dulcinea wrote:WSMR-FM posted an Schumann Lied in his honour. Very generous of the weasels, stoats, mustelids, rodents, ferrets and martens, who have not played any Lieder since the Presidency of GWB.
In the words of Elton John, sad songs say so much.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Ted Quanrud » Mon May 21, 2012 3:59 pm

dulcinea wrote:WSMR-FM posted an Schumann Lied in his honour. Very generous of the weasels, stoats, mustelids, rodents, ferrets and martens, who have not played any Lieder since the Presidency of GWB. :( :x :( :x :( :x :( :x :( :x
Unfortunately, memorializing artists, even truly great artists like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, is not nearly as easy on radio as it used to be, ever since the implementation of Millenium Copyright Act, which restricts (some say handcuffs) music programmers in several ways. Here's the rundown from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

......there are limitations on the number of tracks you can play from the same CD, album or cassette ("CD"), limitations on the number of songs by the same artist, and limitations on how many songs from the same CD or artist can be transmitted consecutively. In any three (3) hour period you can transmit up to three (3) different selections of sound recordings from any one CD, but you can transmit no more than two (2) consecutively. Additionally, in any three (3) hour period you can transmit up to four (4) different selections by the same featured artist, or up to four (4) different selections of sound recordings from any set or compilation of CD's, but you can transmit no more than three (3) consecutively.

In addition, "you cannot publish or distribute a program schedule or list of the titles of the specific sound recordings that will be transmitted in advance."

I would have gladly filled up all three hours of my program last night with Fischer-Dieskau recordings. As it was, I could only program four for the entire program. I probably pushed the envelope a bit by programming Schwanengesang and announcing it as a single work.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by IcedNote » Mon May 21, 2012 4:19 pm

Ted Quanrud wrote:......there are limitations on the number of tracks you can play from the same CD, album or cassette ("CD"), limitations on the number of songs by the same artist, and limitations on how many songs from the same CD or artist can be transmitted consecutively. In any three (3) hour period you can transmit up to three (3) different selections of sound recordings from any one CD, but you can transmit no more than two (2) consecutively. Additionally, in any three (3) hour period you can transmit up to four (4) different selections by the same featured artist, or up to four (4) different selections of sound recordings from any set or compilation of CD's, but you can transmit no more than three (3) consecutively.

In addition, "you cannot publish or distribute a program schedule or list of the titles of the specific sound recordings that will be transmitted in advance."
Thanks for that info, Ted. I understand why they put it into effect, but this is definitely an unwanted result of such a law. C'est la vie.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Mon May 21, 2012 6:06 pm

That´s the kiss of death for Classical Music, because most people buy cds that they listen on the radio, who will buy Stenhammar or Zelenka if they don´t hear them first on the radio?

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by CharmNewton » Mon May 21, 2012 10:58 pm

DG has publshed an obituary for the singer here: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/artist/?ART_ID=FISDI

Near the bottom of the page is a link to DG Radio which is playing a 2-CD collection of the artist performing Schumann lieder.

John

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Lance » Tue May 22, 2012 2:18 am

Thank you for sharing that, John. The DGG tribute to DFD is one of the finest tributes I have read yet honoring the artist.
CharmNewton wrote:DG has publshed an obituary for the singer here: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/artist/?ART_ID=FISDI

Near the bottom of the page is a link to DG Radio which is playing a 2-CD collection of the artist performing Schumann lieder.

John
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by John F » Tue May 22, 2012 2:43 am

josé echenique wrote:most people buy cds that they listen on the radio, who will buy Stenhammar or Zelenka if they don´t hear them first on the radio?
Is that really so? I mean, that sales of classical recordings depend on classical music radio. That doesn't seem to be the case in Classical Music Guide, and there are large areas of the classical repertoire that hardly go on the air at all - like Lieder, except for the famous song cycles by Schubert, Schumann, and especially Mahler. Yet people buy CDs of Lieder too.
John Francis

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Tue May 22, 2012 7:31 am

John F wrote:
josé echenique wrote:most people buy cds that they listen on the radio, who will buy Stenhammar or Zelenka if they don´t hear them first on the radio?
Is that really so? I mean, that sales of classical recordings depend on classical music radio. That doesn't seem to be the case in Classical Music Guide, and there are large areas of the classical repertoire that hardly go on the air at all - like Lieder, except for the famous song cycles by Schubert, Schumann, and especially Mahler. Yet people buy CDs of Lieder too.
I didn´t mean exclusively of course. The people from CMG are mostly very well informed and knowledgeable , they surely don´t need to hear a recording on the radio to decide if they are going to buy it or not, but we are a minority, there´s a larger audience of not so dedicated aficionados who buy recordings because they liked them when they heard them on the radio.
People are more likely to buy music from composers they are familiar with, the public at large shy away from little known composers, so the only showcase they have is radio.
Many years ago I used to distribute independent labels in Mexico like Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi, and both Bernard Coutaz and Ted Perry begged us, the independent distributors, to make sure that their recordings were played on the radio. I made an arrangement with one of the 2 public Classical Music stations that we have in Mexico. I used to donate newly released cds in exchange for a 2 hour weekly program where these new recordings were showcased.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Tue May 22, 2012 11:07 am

josé echenique wrote: Many years ago I used to distribute independent labels in Mexico like Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi, and both Bernard Coutaz and Ted Perry begged us, the independent distributors, to make sure that their recordings were played on the radio. I made an arrangement with one of the 2 public Classical Music stations that we have in Mexico. I used to donate newly released cds in exchange for a 2 hour weekly program where these new recordings were showcased.
Payola, classical music style. :wink:

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Tue May 22, 2012 11:23 am

jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote: Many years ago I used to distribute independent labels in Mexico like Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi, and both Bernard Coutaz and Ted Perry begged us, the independent distributors, to make sure that their recordings were played on the radio. I made an arrangement with one of the 2 public Classical Music stations that we have in Mexico. I used to donate newly released cds in exchange for a 2 hour weekly program where these new recordings were showcased.
Payola, classical music style. :wink:
That´s the only promotion our limited budgets allowed :(

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Seán » Tue May 22, 2012 1:59 pm

josé echenique wrote: Many years ago I used to distribute independent labels in Mexico like Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi, and both Bernard Coutaz and Ted Perry begged us, the independent distributors, to make sure that their recordings were played on the radio. I made an arrangement with one of the 2 public Classical Music stations that we have in Mexico. I used to donate newly released cds in exchange for a 2 hour weekly program where these new recordings were showcased.
What a lovely idea, well done Pepe. Off topic I know but I am wondering if you still have two Classical Music stations in Mexico?
Seán

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Lance » Tue May 22, 2012 4:00 pm

The lesson I see here is that most of us are NOT going to make it to the age that even DFD made it. If you can make it to 90-plus and still have your basic health and especially your mind, still read, still listen to (and enjoy) music, still go to concerts and fine restaurants, and do some minor (maybe major) traveling, count your blessings. So, go ahead, BUY those CDs you've put on hold. ENJOY IT because you cannot take them with you. That's my sermon for today! :cry:
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by josé echenique » Tue May 22, 2012 4:08 pm

Seán wrote:
josé echenique wrote: Many years ago I used to distribute independent labels in Mexico like Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi, and both Bernard Coutaz and Ted Perry begged us, the independent distributors, to make sure that their recordings were played on the radio. I made an arrangement with one of the 2 public Classical Music stations that we have in Mexico. I used to donate newly released cds in exchange for a 2 hour weekly program where these new recordings were showcased.
What a lovely idea, well done Pepe. Off topic I know but I am wondering if you still have two Classical Music stations in Mexico?
Yes, we do Seán. One is the National University Radio, the other is called Opus 94 because it´s on 94.5 FM.
In the early 80´s we used to have 4 full time Classical Music stations in Mexico City, but the other 2 were privately owned and eventually became news stations.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by CharmNewton » Tue May 22, 2012 10:44 pm

Lance wrote:Thank you for sharing that, John. The DGG tribute to DFD is one of the finest tributes I have read yet honoring the artist.
CharmNewton wrote:DG has publshed an obituary for the singer here: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/artist/?ART_ID=FISDI

Near the bottom of the page is a link to DG Radio which is playing a 2-CD collection of the artist performing Schumann lieder.

John
His Schumann with Eschenbach is lovely. Besides the Schumann they also were playing a a single-CD collection of Schubert and his 6-CD collection of Wolf.

John

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Allen » Sat May 26, 2012 7:10 pm


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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by John F » Sat May 26, 2012 8:57 pm

Thanks for posting the link - it's a fine appreciation of what made DFD special. There are other pieces about DFD on that page as well.
John Francis

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by John F » Sun May 27, 2012 1:33 pm

And here's a really outstanding piece from the Boston Globe:

Remembering Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, master of German art song
By Jeremy Eichler
May 27, 2012

“I am unable to imagine my own death,” wrote Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, “since from the beginning I adjusted to the idea of a dubious reincarnation.”

In his memoirs, the legendary baritone confessed to the youthful fantasy, no doubt shared by many artists, of living on through his recordings, picturing his voice embodied in the discs as they fluttered out into the world like swallows “coming to roost” in the collections of music lovers around the world.

He was not so far off the mark. This past week many collectors reached for their own prized swallows to commemorate one of the century’s most extraordinary singers. Fischer-Dieskau died at his home in Bavaria on May 18 at 86, and the tributes have been pouring in. Tenor Ian Bostridge called him “a titanic figure and a mirror of his age.” Baritone Thomas Hampson tweeted that “a hero has passed.” Conductor Daniel Barenboim likened him to cellist Pablo Casals, as a performer who had a revolutionary impact on the field, in this case by showing that a singer does not have to choose between the opera stage and the recital hall.

Indeed, Fischer-Dieskau possessed an astounding musical range, and his career, spanning over four decades, included much-heralded performances in operas by Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner, Strauss, Berg, and Henze as well as oratorios and concert works from Bach to Britten. But the summit of his achievement came in the genre of art songs: those small canvases that, as he showed, can so often contain multitudes, or speak with an unmatched intimacy. He seemed to perform art songs in every conceivable language, but his artistry was deepest in his own native German, in the lieder of composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Brahms, and Strauss.

Personally, I was too young to hear him perform live, but, like so many others listeners, I discovered that core art song repertoire through his early recordings, partnered by Gerald Moore on piano. Surely also like so many others, the first disc I turned to upon hearing news of his passing was Fischer-Dieskau’s “Winterreise” from 1963. Here one finds this singer’s art — and Schubert’s — laid bare: the tone at once burnished and sweet, the remarkable control of nuance and shading, the distillation of meaning to its essence, and most globally, the ability to align and charge the myriad elements of a song in a way that creates its own magnetic field.
Legendary baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died May 18 at age 86.

The intellect behind Fischer-Dieskau’s artistry is unmistakable in the recordings themselves, but it also shines through his published writing on the lieder he spent his lifetime interpreting. In his book “Schubert’s Songs,” he describes “Der Leiermann” — the chilling conclusion of the composer’s “Winterreise” song cycle — as “the last station on the journey of sorrow,” and he goes on to pose the question of whether this music is almost too intimate for public performance. No, he concludes, but the cycle does require a completely unsparing approach from its performer: “If these songs only please, or stir us or frighten us, then we are a long, long way from fully understanding Schubert’s personal statement.” Of the singers of our time, has anyone understood Schubert’s statement more fully?

Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin in 1925, and his life appears in retrospect inseparable from the sweep of German history and culture. When he strolled down Berlin’s wide Unter Den Linden boulevard, he could nod to one of his ancestors, General C.W. von Dieskau, an artillery general in the army, depicted in the famous Christian Rauch statue of Frederick the Great on horseback. Bach wrote his “Peasant Cantata” for another ancestor. And Fischer-Dieskau’s father was a passionate amateur musician and school principal, who organized concerts during World War I that attracted the musical luminaries of the day, including the soprano Pauline de Ahna and her husband, Richard Strauss.

That connection to the sweep of German history extended through its darkest chapters. Fischer-Dieskau’s first “Winterreise” performance, in Berlin in 1943, was interrupted by an air raid, and he was later drafted into the German Army. He tended horses in Russia, lost a brother at the hands of the Nazis, and was captured by the Americans in Italy. After the war, his musical career came rapidly into its own.

His recordings of the 1950s and 1960s brought the lieder repertoire to thousands of listeners, at the same time as they set new, vertiginously high standards for art-song performance. It’s rare to find in a single artist the ability to both popularize a genre and raise its standards. For me, discovering those recordings in my early explorations of art song was a revelation, offering a first glimpse of singing in which poetic text and musical line were so fully and completely integrated.

In his book on Schumann’s lieder, Fischer-Dieskau in fact quotes the composer’s remark that “the poetry should be to the singer as a bride in the arms of her groom — free, happy, and complete. Only then will the song realize a divine quality.” To understand what this really means, one need look no further than Fischer-Dieskau’s performances of Schumann’s “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” or “Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen” from the “Dictherliebe.” Here is the sound of poetry, in this case by Heinrich Heine, “free, happy, and complete.”

And here, too, is precisely the wonder of a Fischer-Dieskau performance: the sense of poetry and music aligning in real time. At its best, his artistry recapitulates something of the original creative act, the moment when a composer releases a poem from its two-dimensional existence on the plane of words alone. His recordings are also living proof that scholarly erudition and artistic integrity can live hand in hand with the kind of heated dramatic intensity that delivers a song straight to the gut.

In recent days, I keep finding my way back to one of his recordings of Schubert’s “Du bist die Ruh.” This sublime setting of a Rückert poem exudes an air of uncommon peacefulness, momentarily dispersed by an enormous crescendo in its final refrain, followed in a repetition by a surprise diminuendo that somehow draws the music precipitously inward. “Schubert is not singing to an audience out over the prompter’s box,” Fischer-Dieskau wrote of this particular diminuendo, “he is singing rather to the inner soul.” As Schubert’s executor in chief, he understood this, too.
John Francis

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Ken » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:55 am

I'm coming late to post this, but I was quite sad to have learned about this a couple of weeks ago. Fischer-Dieskau's baritone voice is, as I see it, unparalled in its expressiveness and he was along with Schreier one of the greatest interpreters of Schumann's Lieder and a very knowledgeable admirer of the composer. His early recordings of the two Liederkreise and the Dichterliebe, which have recently seeped back into the re-release market, are truly astounding, but his perhaps most touching and emotional recording of Schumann's Lieder was of the Opus 90, the 6 Gedichte & Requiem by Lenau... Amazing stuff. I would have loved to have met the man to express my admiration of his work.
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:57 pm

Ken wrote:I'm coming late to post this....
It's good to see your post, Ken. I hope we hear more from you.
Last edited by jbuck919 on Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Ken » Fri Jun 08, 2012 3:55 am

Thanks Jack, it's good to be around here again! Things are pretty busy; I'm in the last year of my doctoral work and having to finance that with other odd jobs on the side. That doesn't leave much time left over for internet let alone for concentrated listening, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

That said, I'll try to take a few more CMG breaks in the immediate future. :D
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:32 pm

Ken wrote:Thanks Jack, it's good to be around here again! Things are pretty busy; I'm in the last year of my doctoral work and having to finance that with other odd jobs on the side. That doesn't leave much time left over for internet let alone for concentrated listening, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

That said, I'll try to take a few more CMG breaks in the immediate future. :D
Ummm, Jack (Kelso) is your fellow Schumannista, John is the one who welcomed you back, as do I... :wink:
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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:20 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Ken wrote:Thanks Jack, it's good to be around here again! Things are pretty busy; I'm in the last year of my doctoral work and having to finance that with other odd jobs on the side. That doesn't leave much time left over for internet let alone for concentrated listening, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

That said, I'll try to take a few more CMG breaks in the immediate future. :D
Ummm, Jack (Kelso) is your fellow Schumannista, John is the one who welcomed you back, as do I... :wink:
All I can say for my appreciation of Schumann while placing him appropriately in the pantheon is that it's a good thing I didn't stay any longer in Bamberg. 8)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is dead

Post by Ken » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:46 am

You'll have to excuse me, John, I've not been around here for a while and my fingers seem to have taken on a mind of their own, writing the false names and such. :oops:
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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