Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Alex Ross may have said it best:

A monumental, vastly influential figure is gone. I can’t help feeling shock at the news — a world without Fischer-Dieskau seems foreign and unnerving.

He links to several other appreciations, as well as a fascinating – and sad – interview Fischer-Dieskau gave in 2005.

Fischer-Dieskau was an artist whose impact on generations of musicians, and listeners, was seminal. Leo Carey’s experience was very similar to mine:

It’s one of those deaths that resonate through one for days after, and seem to require some act of personal commemoration. As soon as I heard, I reached down his recordings with Gerald Moore of nearly every song Schubert wrote. I was given this monumental boxed set, twenty-five CDs in all, for my twenty-first birthday, and, with the single-mindedness of someone who doesn’t yet have a job, listened my way through the whole thing. So, like countless people, I got to know German lieder through Fischer-Dieskau, and for me he simply is the voice of Schubert…

My personal favorite performance of his (of the limited subset I know of his immense recorded repertoire, of course) is a recording from the 1960s of Schubert’s Der Wanderer (D. 649) with Gerald Moore.

It’s all there in 3 minutes – the incredible quality of sounding as if he’s speaking while singing (and the precision of the diction), the beautiful sound, the variety in tone colors, and the complete understanding of Schubert’s intentions.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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