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TESS CREBBIN pays tribute
to the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,
eighty today


The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is 80 today and he is as popular as ever. His fan-club spans the entire globe and although he no longer performs as a singer, his recitals and also his appearances as a conductor continue to draw the crowds and are often sold out. But who exactly is this singer who continues to fascinate music fans all over the world, and wherein lies his great appeal? Nobody who has ever seen him perform, or heard his CDs, can forget his wonderful partnership with the legendary accompanist Gerald Moore, and his Winterreise although somewhat German-perfectionist and characterised by emotional restraint, is a perfect example of excellent singing. His voice is capable of immense range and colors, probably unequalled so far, and when he does not sing or concern himself with musical matters, he has another pretty good artistic talent: painting. This is something that he does rather well, enough so that his paintings, which are featured in the new book Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau -- a life in pictures by Hans Neunzig and published by Henschel Press in Germany this year to commemorate his birthday, are delightful to look at.

Hans A Neunzig: 'Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Ein Leben in Bildern'. Henschel Press 2005
Hans A Neunzig: 'Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Ein Leben in Bildern'. Henschel Press 2005

Here is a brief overview of the life of this exceptionally talented man who lives in Berlin and on Lake Starnberg, Bavaria, these days, and has been married since 1977 to the soprano Julia Varady who is his fourth wife. His first wife was the cellist Irmgard Poppen. They married in 1949, but she died in 1963 of complications during the birth of their third child, Manuel, who grew up to become a cellist and was a member of the Cherubini Quartet. Their other two children are Mathias, born in 1951 and a stage designer, and Martin, born in 1954 and himself now very well-known as a conductor.

Martin Fischer-Dieskau. Photo courtesy of Colbert Artists Management
Martin Fischer-Dieskau. Photo courtesy of Colbert Artists Management

After the death of his first wife, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau married the actress Ruth Leuwerick in 1965. They stayed married until 1967. In 1968, he married his third wife, Christina Pugel-Schule, to whom he was married until 1975.

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Copyright © 28 May 2005 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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