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Baritone Fischer-Dieskau, Master of German Lieder, Dies, 86

May 18, 2012

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the baritone who led a worldwide revival in popularity for German Lieder, has died, the Bavarian State Opera said. He was 86.

His wife, the soprano Julia Varady, told German press agency DPA that he “fell gently asleep” in his home near Starnberg in Bavaria.

Born in Berlin in 1925, Fischer-Dieskau began his successful career in 1947 with a Lieder concert and at the Berlin opera. Popular as an opera singer, he became best known for his renditions of songs by Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler.

“Through his interpretations of both Lieder and opera, he made a decisive impact on the art of singing,” Nikolaus Bachler, director of the Bavarian State Opera, said in a statement sent by e-mail. “The Bavarian State Opera is mourning one of its most important artists.”

He ended his singing career in 1992 with a gala concert in Munich.

“Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau wrote German music history as a singer and a performer,” German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said in an e-mailed statement. “His interpretations of German lieder from Mozart to Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Richard Strauss set yardsticks. His recordings of the ‘Winterreise’ are unforgettable. For more than half a century, he touched countless people across the whole world with his voice, in hundreds of concerts and innumerable performances.”

To contact the writer on the story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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