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Obituary for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

18 MAY 2012

published in: General

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
“The Festival owes Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau moments of glory celebrated equally by our audiences and the press” – thus Helga Rabl-Stadler, the Festival’s President, expressed her mourning of the wonderful musician’s passing.

In Salzburg, Fischer-Dieskau was among those artists which gave the Festival its outstanding international reputation. He appeared at the Salzburg Festival no less than 123 times: 67 times in operas, in 50 recitals, three times as a conductor and three times as a narrator.

In 1951 he made his debut under Wilhelm Furtwängler in Gustav Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. The conductor raved about Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: “That such a young person should know so exactly how this must be sung!” And when he performed the role of Count Almaviva under Karl Böhm in Salzburg’s legendary Figaro ensemble in 1956, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote, “Salzburg has another attraction.”

Of course, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau celebrated his greatest triumphs in Salzburg in his very own area, the art song.

“However, he was also especially important for us in championing contemporary music. After all, it was always the Salzburg Festival’s successful policy to make new works attractive for the audience by having them performed by stars. Thus, Fischer-Dieskau sang the title role in Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise at the Felsenreitschule in 1985. It was the first performance anywhere, after the Paris world premiere – albeit in a concert version and limited to the four most important episodes from the saint’s life – but the impression remained indelible for many years,” Rabl-Stadler declared. And furthermore: “The black flag that flies on the Festspielhaus roof today is but a tiny symbol for the great sadness and the gratitude we feel today.”