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November 30, 2010

German tenor Peter Hofmann, as comfortable singing Wagner as Webber, dies at 66

Peter Hofmann, the German tenor whose handsome looks and vibrant vocalism made him one of the most sought-after Wagnerian artists of his day, died Tuesday in Bavaria at the age of 66. According to news reports, he had been in the hospital with pneumonia; he also had Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Hofmann did not have a long operatic career, but his peak period, from the mid-'70s into the '80s, included triumphant performances of heroic roles in Wagner operas. The tenor's rugged good looks made him seem doubly effective in that repertoire. He was equally at home in rock music, an early love that he never abandoned. He also made his mark in the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" in a German-language production during the early '90s.

Mr. Hofmann, whose much-too-early death follows a distressingly long list of musical obituaries in 2010, left an admirable mark on the opera world. Here's an example, from an acclaimed as Siegmund in a 1980 performance of "Die Walkure" at Bayreuth:

Posted by Tim Smith at 1:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Opera

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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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