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Fischer-Dieskau was born in Berlin as the youngest of three sons to the school principal Albert Fischer-Dieskau (1865-1937). His mother, Dora (1884-1966), a school-teacher, was Albert's second wife. It's interesting to note that his paternal grandmother's ancestors included the 'Kammerherr' von Dieskau for whom J S Bach wrote his Peasant Cantata in 1742.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Photo © Salzburg Festival
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Photo © Salzburg Festival

As a child, Dietrich was taught to play the piano by his mother, then by an outside teacher, and at the age of sixteen he began formal voice lessons with Georg Walter. He finished high school and went on to study at the conservatory in Berlin, but in 1943 he was drafted and had to go to war. In 1945, he was taken captive by the Italians and subsequently spent two years as an American prisoner of war. When he returned to Germany, he went back to the conservatory to study with Hermann Weissenborn. In the same year, 1947, he made his début on stage as a singer when he was asked to fill in at short notice for a performance of Brahms' Requiem and immediately impressed everyone present with his extraordinary voice. By the fall, the gave his first Lieder recital, and only one year later became principal lyric baritone at the Berlin City Opera, singing the part of Posa in Don Carlos in his first role there. Appearances in Munich and Vienna followed. By the year of 1954 he was a regular at Bayreuth, and by 1956 in Salzburg as well. In 1954 he made his first concert tour to the United States, and ten years later gave his first Lieder recital at Carnegie Hall.

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Copyright © 28 May 2005 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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