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November 13, 2009

Blast from the Past: Richard Tauber

Maybe it's all the rain we've been having lately in dear old Baltimore, but I just had to hear something sunny for my weekly trip down Nostalgia Lane. And that made me think of the ever-sunny voice of Richard Tauber, the German-born tenor who had one of the sweetest, warmest tones ever documented on recording.

I could hear this guy sing anything -- and he sang just about anything, too, from lieder to Broadway. I'll start with some Schumann, sung by Tauber portraying a certain Herr SteigIer in one of his films. Then an example of the lighter fare he sang so charmingly. After much internal debate, I settled on "They Say It's Wonderful" from Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun" -- not the first thing you might associate with Tauber. I think it's a gem of a performance, recorded in 1947, a year before the tenor's death.

Finally, since Tauber knew his way around a podium, I thought I'd include a non-vocal example of his artistry, too, conducting of the overture to Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus." Note the number of his idiosyncratic touches, especially the very slow tempo for the waltz (starting at 2:23 on the clip) and the deliciously gradual move into tempo for the Act 1 trio (at 4:51).

Here, then, three cloud-lifting blasts from the past:

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:29 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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