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May 18, 2012

Classical music world loses another giant: baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Just saw the dispiriting news that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the incomparable German baritone who set the gold standard for lieder singing, died Friday at 86.

I daresay he helped a lot of people appreciate lieder -- really appreciate it. When you heard Mr. Fischer-Dieskau's beautiful tone and incisive phrasing, you found yourself inside a song, living the lyrics, sensing the poetic images.

The baritone left a sizable mark on other repertoire, of course, including opera. His performance in the Britten "War Requiem" remains one of the most profound documents of 20th century musical art. His interpretations of Mahler were equally inspired.

He was simply one of those exceedingly rare vocal artists who could make you sit up and take notice, no matter what the music, and make you feel so very fortunate.

Here are just a couple of examples of the artistry of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, singing Schubert, Schumann and Mahler:

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:19 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes


D. F-D has been an inspiration for me, especially for the use of 2 things: legato and mixed voice.
I thank him for that.

My condolences in the death of Dietrick Fischer-Dieskau.

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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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