Fritz Wunderlich documentary

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Derek McGovern

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Jan 24, 2008, 3:46:10 AM1/24/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
While I was in Melbourne this week, I bought the DVD of the 2006
documentary Fritz Wunderlich: Life and Legend (Leben und Legende).
It's magnificent.

The documentary features moving interviews with, among others,
Wunderlich's widow Eva, colleagues such as the great baritone Hermann
Prey (in archival footage) and Anneliese Rothenberger, and one of his
closest friends (Peter Karger), who gives a heartbreaking account of
Fritz's final evening. There are also some great bonus features on the
DVD, including a superb 1962 stage rendition of Lenski's aria from
Eugene Onegin - a performance that had Armando, Carmel, and I all
wiping our eyes at the end.

Wonderful stuff, and highly recommended.

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Vince Di Placido

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Jan 24, 2008, 5:20:11 PM1/24/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
I have never really listened to Fritz Wunderlich but I followed your
Youtube link, Derek, & I was very impressed! I followed links to a
couple of other clips including clips from the "Life and Legend"
documentary, Fritz Wunderlich's high notes on Granada were thrilling &
I mean in a Mario kind of way. The clip about his tragic last evening
was very sad, a true tragedy. I must order some of his cds.
I'm not going to find him singing much in Italian am I!? I'lll go
search now...
There is nothing sadder than gifted people dying young!

On Jan 24, 10:37 am, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Cara Muriella: To see the Eugene Onegin clip, click here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhpavbk6ZD8
>
> The picture quality is much better on the DVD, but this is the only
> version I've found on youtube so far in which the sync is not out.
> Fritz *is* singing live here.
>
> Enjoy!!
>
> On Jan 24, 10:37 pm, Muriel <mawscompu...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Gee, I'd love to see this, Derek. Since our Tower Records store went
> > out of business, I haven't found a good place to buy anything like
> > this. I'll have to check online...
>
> > Your mentioning Hermann Prey made me get out the Pearl Fisher's duet
> > he sang with Fritz. I think it is one of the best I've heard.
> > Washington Opera is presenting this opera next season and I'm looking
> > forward to it....Thanks, M...
> > > Wonderful stuff, and highly recommended.- Hide quoted text -
>
> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Derek McGovern

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Jan 24, 2008, 5:45:57 PM1/24/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Vince: Fritz Wunderlich was an incredible singer! Apart from the
thrilling Granada you mentioned, his rendition of Ob Blond, Ob Braun,
Ich liebe alle Fra'un is very reminiscent of Lanza in its passion and
enthusiasm, not to mention the wonderful upper register. He also
recorded stunning renditions of Il Mio Tesoro (in German) and Komm, O
Holde Dame, plus the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey, as Muriella has
already mentioned.

At the time that Fritz was performing in opera in the late 1950s and
1960s, it was standard practice in his country to sing (and record)
everything in German. On what little he did record in Italian, he
sounds a bit uncomfortable at times! (He also recorded Be My Love in
English, with rather unidiomatic results: "ze vay you hold my hahnd"
:-))

But the wonderful thing about Fritz's German is the way he so often
makes it sound quite beautiful.

Derek McGovern

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Jan 24, 2008, 6:17:28 PM1/24/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Here's a link to all the non-German recordings that Wunderlich made:

http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/discography/discogr.htm

And here's a moving extract from the late Hermann Prey's autobiography:

http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/prey_e.htm

Prey makes the interesting comment that on one of their recordings
together, "there are points at which I cannot really tell who is
singing what. Our voices melted together to form one." That's exactly
how I feel when I play the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey and
Wunderlich.

am...@ruc.dk

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Jan 24, 2008, 8:50:17 PM1/24/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi!
Derek, thank you for telling us about your new DVD of Fritz Wunderlich
it sounds very interesting.
Yes, the way he died was very tragic, tripping in his shoelaces and
falling down the stairs - horrible, and so young.
He sure did have a wonderful voice and a beautiful German diction. His
Granada is absolutely thrilling - a real show-off (in a good way),
right? I have a 3 cd box set of Wunderlich recitals named "Der grosse
deutsche tenor Fritz Wunderlich" which I can recommend. It has arias
and duets from operas and operettas. The pearl fisher duet is however
not among them - unfortunately, I would have loved to hear it and his
Be My Love too, lol. I had no idea he had sung anything in English.
Well, back on track - all the arias on this CD are in German except
for Ombra mai fu which is wonderful. It is actually quite fun to hear
the great Italian arias and duets like Il Mio Tesoro, Questa o quella,
La donna e mobile, O soave fanciulla not to mention the butterfly duet
sung in German. At first it is a bit weird, but when you get used to
it, it is quite good.
I have uploaded the ones mentioned above to the following link, so you
can all hear them.

http://savefile.com/projects/808596147

The Boheme duet is sung with Annelise Rothenberger and the butterfly
duet with Pilar Lorengar.

Ann-Mai


On 25 Jan., 00:17, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Here's a link to all the non-German recordings that Wunderlich made:
>
> http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/discography/discogr.htm
>
> And here's a moving extract from the late Hermann Prey's autobiography:
>
> http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/prey_e.htm
>
> Prey makes the interesting comment that on one of their recordings
> together, "there are points at which I cannot really tell who is
> singing what. Our voices melted together to form one." That's exactly
> how I feel when I play the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey and
> Wunderlich.
>
> On 1/25/08, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Hi Vince: Fritz Wunderlich was an incredible singer! Apart from the
> > thrilling Granada you mentioned, his rendition of Ob Blond, Ob Braun,
> > Ich liebe alle Fra'un is very reminiscent of Lanza in its passion and
> > enthusiasm, not to mention the wonderful upper register. He also
> > recorded stunning renditions of Il Mio Tesoro (in German) and Komm, O
> > Holde Dame, plus the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey, as Muriella has
> > already mentioned.
>
> > At the time that Fritz was performing in opera in the late 1950s and
> > 1960s, it was standard practice in his country to sing (and record)
> > everything in German. On what little he did record in Italian, he
> > sounds a bit uncomfortable at times! (He also recorded Be My Love in
> > English, with rather unidiomatic results: "ze vay you hold my hahnd"
> > :-))
>
> > But the wonderful thing about Fritz's German is the way he so often
> > makes it sound quite beautiful.
>
> > > > - Show quoted text -- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -
>
> - Vis tekst i anførselstegn -
Message has been deleted

Muriel

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Jan 25, 2008, 12:31:20 AM1/25/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Herr Prey's tribute to his friend is very moving. Music is experienced
not only by hearing, but it goes beyond that sense and into our very
beings. His comment that he couldn't tell which one of them was
singing makes it obvious the two of them had the rare quality of total
synchronization of minds as they sang together. Oh, how he must have
missed him! I'd like to think this might have happened if there had
been a Lanza/Moffo collaboration. At the very least, their voices and
singing personallities had the potential for a like event.

The other Pearl Fishers duets I have are by Blanc/Gedda, Bjorling/
Merrill, and another on a Naxos CD set, The A-Z of Opera, sung by
Janez Lotric/Igor Morozov (Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra). The
Wunderlich/Prey is, without a doubt, my favorite.

Fritz' Lensky in Eugene Onegin is superb. This role is fresh in my
mind as I saw it at the Met last March with Ramon Vargas singing.

On Jan 24, 6:17 pm, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Here's a link to all the non-German recordings that Wunderlich made:
>
> http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/discography/discogr.htm
>
> And here's a moving extract from the late Hermann Prey's autobiography:
>
> http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/prey_e.htm
>
> Prey makes the interesting comment that on one of their recordings
> together, "there are points at which I cannot really tell who is
> singing what. Our voices melted together to form one." That's exactly
> how I feel when I play the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey and
> Wunderlich.
>
> On 1/25/08, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Hi Vince: Fritz Wunderlich was an incredible singer! Apart from the
> > thrilling Granada you mentioned, his rendition of Ob Blond, Ob Braun,
> > Ich liebe alle Fra'un is very reminiscent of Lanza in its passion and
> > enthusiasm, not to mention the wonderful upper register. He also
> > recorded stunning renditions of Il Mio Tesoro (in German) and Komm, O
> > Holde Dame, plus the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey, as Muriella has
> > already mentioned.
>
> > At the time that Fritz was performing in opera in the late 1950s and
> > 1960s, it was standard practice in his country to sing (and record)
> > everything in German.  On what little he did record in Italian, he
> > sounds a bit uncomfortable at times! (He also recorded Be My Love in
> > English, with rather unidiomatic results: "ze vay you hold my hahnd"
> > :-))
>
> > But the wonderful thing about Fritz's German is the way he so often
> > makes it sound quite beautiful.
>

Jan Hodges

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Jan 25, 2008, 1:38:39 AM1/25/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Thank you Derek for that file of Wunderlich and Prey. The Pearl Fishers duet is one of my favourites and I have listened to it many times with several different singers,
I like this one even if it is in German and I am used to hearing it in French.
 A lovely blend of two beautiful voices.
Jan
faint_grain.jpg
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Derek McGovern

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Jan 27, 2008, 9:17:19 PM1/27/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Over the weekend, I watched all of the supplementary material that
comes with the Fritz Wunderlich documentary. These are interviews -
mostly with his colleagues - and live performances. It's all wonderful
stuff, and the live material is beautifully recorded. Coming from a
company like Deutsch Grammophon, this didn't surprise me. Some years
back, an audiophile friend of mine with only a passing interest in
tenors couldn't get over how much better Wunderlich was recorded than
Lanza. (He also commented on the bargain basement-type album covers
that RCA so often saddled Mario with :-)) Perhaps Mario should have
turned his back on RCA when he left America, and signed with the
prestigious Deutsche Grammophon instead?!

The pristine sound quality on all of Fritz's recordings certainly is a
delight; what's more - as David Savage has pointed out on the
Memorable Live Experiences thread - what we hear on record is exactly
what was heard in the theatre. Sadly, no one has ever been able to say
that about any of Lanza's recordings - none of which, it seems, truly
does him justice.

On 1/25/08, am...@ruc.dk <am...@ruc.dk> wrote:
>
> Thank you so much for the link to the Pearl Fishers Duet, Derek! It is
> very beautiful.
>
> Ann-Mai
>
>
> On 25 Jan., 06:16, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi Ann-Mai
> >
> > I can give you a temporary link for the Pearl Fishers Duet (Au Fond du
> > Temple Saint) with Wunderlich and Prey, but (sorry) not for Be My
> > Love. Here it is:
> >
> > http://www.4shared.com/file/35867969/53dec1e8/Au_Fond_du_Temple_Saint...
> >
> > Wunderlich's discography is a bit confusing because he recorded for
> > both EMI and Deutsch Grammophon. The Pearl Fishers Duet, for example,
> > is DG - as is his Granada (the exciting version in a non-traditional
> > arrangement) - but Il Mio Tesoro (Folget der Heissgeliebten) and Komm,
> > O Holde Dame are with EMI. And Ombra Mai Fu is sung in Italian for one
> > label and German for another!
> >
> > I've just learned today, though, that he sang Alfredo in La Traviata
> > in *Italian* on stage in Munich in 1965 with Teresa Stratas and
> > Hermann Prey. Perhaps our very own David Savage witnessed one of these
> > performances?
> >
> > -Derek


> >
> > On Jan 25, 2008 2:50 PM, <a...@ruc.dk> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > Hi!
> > > Derek, thank you for telling us about your new DVD of Fritz Wunderlich
> > > it sounds very interesting.
> > > Yes, the way he died was very tragic, tripping in his shoelaces and
> > > falling down the stairs - horrible, and so young.
> > > He sure did have a wonderful voice and a beautiful German diction. His
> > > Granada is absolutely thrilling - a real show-off (in a good way),
> > > right? I have a 3 cd box set of Wunderlich recitals named "Der grosse
> > > deutsche tenor Fritz Wunderlich" which I can recommend. It has arias
> > > and duets from operas and operettas. The pearl fisher duet is however
> > > not among them - unfortunately, I would have loved to hear it and his
> > > Be My Love too, lol. I had no idea he had sung anything in English.
> > > Well, back on track - all the arias on this CD are in German except
> > > for Ombra mai fu which is wonderful. It is actually quite fun to hear
> > > the great Italian arias and duets like Il Mio Tesoro, Questa o quella,
> > > La donna e mobile, O soave fanciulla not to mention the butterfly duet
> > > sung in German. At first it is a bit weird, but when you get used to
> > > it, it is quite good.
> > > I have uploaded the ones mentioned above to the following link, so you
> > > can all hear them.
> >
> > >http://savefile.com/projects/808596147
> >
> > > The Boheme duet is sung with Annelise Rothenberger and the butterfly
> > > duet with Pilar Lorengar.
> >

> > > Ann-Mai- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -

Vince Di Placido

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Jan 28, 2008, 2:16:32 PM1/28/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Derek, a successful, prestigious company like RCA should really have
recorded a great artist like Mario much much better than they did most
of the time.
I was listening to the Serenade soundtrack cd the other day & thought
this exact same thing, in fact one of the few instances when I am
grateful Mario was with RCA was the "Mario!" album, it's just a
perfect coming together of beautiful individual elements & one of the
few occasions Mario was recorded well, I also think his first
Christmas Carol recordings have a lovely quality & it always surprises
me how well on occassion the Coke performances were captured. I was
listening to The Great Caruso cd & couldn't believe the ridiculous
echo on some of the tracks & as I said Serenade sounds just off,
actually performance aside, the bad acoustics are very close between
Serenade & Lanza on Broadway & of course those last recordings in
1959, in a purely technically recorded capacity are just an insult to
Mario's artistry & the fans that buy the albums.
Deutsch Grammophon did do beautiful work, DECCA recorded beautifully
in the 1950's as well. A successful company like RCA should really
have recorded a great artist like Mario much much better. It is a
measure of how great Mario's performances were that he overcame some
of those badly trained or uninterested recording engineers' off days.
(This should be a new topic...How well was Mario recorded?)

On Jan 28, 2:17 am, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Over the weekend, I watched all of the supplementary material that
> comes with the Fritz Wunderlich documentary. These are interviews -
> mostly with his colleagues - and live performances. It's all wonderful
> stuff, and the live material is beautifully recorded. Coming from a
> company like Deutsch Grammophon, this didn't surprise me. Some years
> back, an audiophile friend of mine with only a passing interest in
> tenors couldn't get over how much better Wunderlich was recorded than
> Lanza. (He also commented on the bargain basement-type album covers
> that RCA so often saddled Mario with :-)) Perhaps Mario should have
> turned his back on RCA when he left America, and signed with the
> prestigious Deutsche Grammophon instead?!
>
> The pristine sound quality on all of Fritz's recordings certainly is a
> delight; what's more - as David Savage has pointed out on the
> Memorable Live Experiences thread - what we hear on record is exactly
> what was heard in the theatre. Sadly, no one has ever been able to say
> that about any of Lanza's recordings - none of which, it seems, truly
> does him justice.
>
> > > - Vis tekst i anførselstegn -- Hide quoted text -

Lou

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Jan 30, 2008, 9:00:59 PM1/30/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
To backtrack a bit, I'd like to thank Derek for the link to the
wonderful Pearl Fishers duet of close friends Wunderlich and Prey. It
brings to mind the celebrated version of Bjorling and Merrill, also
close friends in real life. Perhaps close friendship does promote the
"rare quality of total synchronization of minds as they sang" that
Muriel mentioned earlier on this thread. Many thanks also to Ann-Mai
for posting a link to Wunderlich's renditions of selected duets and
arias. I'm particularly delighted with the Butterfly duet, which I
find almost as thrilling as the white-hot Lanza/Yeend version.

Derek, I have MP3s of Wunderlich and Stratas singing excerpts from the
1965 Munich la Traviata: the confrontation duet at Flora's party and
the Parigi O cara. Wunderlich's lustrous timbre is ravishing, and his
ringing, free top notes and impassioned delivery are reminiscent of
Lanza's. In the confrontation duet, he is really frightening. I can
imagine Violetta quaking in her high-heeled shoes. In Parigi O cara he
is movingly expressive, but Lanza's meltingly, achingly tender mezza
voce gets my vote by a comfortable margin. Interestingly, Di Stefano
made this rather sweeping statement about Wunderlich: "There was only
one tenor who, as a non-Italian, could compete with the greatest
Italian tenors, and that was Fritz Wunderlich. He sang opera like an
Italian." Only one? What about Bjorling?!!!

Wunderlich's visual impact on video does justice to his characters,
but Lanza runs rings around him in the looks department. Yesterday I
received the DVD of the 1962 live performance of Eugene Onegin, and to
say that I was not disappointed is an understatement. Wunderlich has
definitely edged out Shicoff as my Lenski of choice.

I also have a video of the 1959 live German-language telecast of Il
Barbiere di Siviglia, another showcase of the marvelous chemistry
between Wunderlich and Prey. If Wunderlich's Lenski tugs at the heart,
his superbly sung and acted Count Almaviva tickles the ribs. Frankly,
I can't imagine Lanza in this role. But then again, neither can I
imagine Wunderlich as Otello.



On Jan 29, 3:16 am, Vince Di Placido <vincent.diplac...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Derek McGovern

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Jan 30, 2008, 9:19:34 PM1/30/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Very interesting, Lou. I haven't bought the Wunderlich/Prey Eugene
Onegin yet, but of course I do have Fritz's fantastic rendition of
Lenski's aria (Kuda, Kuda...) on the documentary - from the same
performance as your DVD, I take it? - as well as two studio recordings
of the aria (and the duel that follows). I've also seen his first act
aria ("Ya Vas Lyublya, Olga") on youtube, but in very poor sound.

The 1959 Barber of Seville DVD is great! Beautifully sung and
hilariously acted by one and all.

No, Mario would never have gone near the role of Almaviva!

As for Di Stefano's comments, perhaps he simply wasn't a Bjoerling
fan? It'd be interesting to know. But I can understand why he would
have felt an affinity for Wunderlich's singing: in the phrasing
department, especially, Fritz was everything that his fellow lyric
tenor contemporary Pavarotti wasn't.

Muriel

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Jan 30, 2008, 9:19:40 PM1/30/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Oohhhh, Lou, where did you find that 1962 Eugene Onegin? I looked for
it today on the Met website, but no luck. I did order the Hvorostovsky
one from last year, though. I also ordered the West Side Story with
Carreras and Te Kanawa (CD with tape) and a DVD Tribute to Anna Moffo.
I have the Bjorling/Merrill recording of Pearl Fishers. It's very
fine, but I'll choose the Wunderlich/Prey over it. I saw the
Wunderlich Barber of Seville listed so maybe I'll go back and order
that too. Might as well go for broke! I love the Largo al factotum
aria and it would be great to hear it sung by Prey... Ciao...Muriel
Message has been deleted

Armando

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Jan 30, 2008, 11:13:51 PM1/30/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Lou, I'm inclined to agree with Di Stefano's comment. In my opinion
Wunderlich's voice was the closest to an Italian sounding tenor that
I've ever heard. In fact it could have been an Italian, whereas in
Bjorling's case I'm always aware that I'm listening to a Northern
European, albeit, a pretty good one!

And yes, it's a far better voice than Shicoff.

Derek McGovern

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Jan 31, 2008, 2:27:40 AM1/31/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Here's an audio link to the rousing Ob Blond, Ob Braun, Ich liebe alle
Frau'n that I mentioned a few days back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD6RiGabqpA

This is Wunderlich at his lustiest (and most Lanzarian)! I like it as
much as his 1965 Granada.


On Jan 25, 11:45 am, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> Hi Vince: Fritz Wunderlich was an incredible singer! Apart from the
> thrilling Granada you mentioned, his rendition of Ob Blond, Ob Braun,
> Ich liebe alle Fra'un is very reminiscent of Lanza in its passion and
> enthusiasm, not to mention the wonderful upper register. He also
> recorded stunning renditions of Il Mio Tesoro (in German) and Komm, O
> Holde Dame, plus the Pearl Fishers duet with Prey, as Muriella has
> already mentioned.
>
> At the time that Fritz was performing in opera in the late 1950s and
> 1960s, it was standard practice in his country to sing (and record)
> everything in German.  On what little he did record in Italian, he
> sounds a bit uncomfortable at times! (He also recorded Be My Love in
> English, with rather unidiomatic results: "ze vay you hold my hahnd"
> :-))
>
> But the wonderful thing about Fritz's German is the way he so often
> makes it sound quite beautiful.
>

Lou

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Jan 31, 2008, 2:33:36 AM1/31/08
to Mario Lanza, tenor
No, Muriel, you won't find the 1962 Wunderlich/Prey Eugene Onegin on
the Met web site nor on Amazon.com because it is not a commercial
recording. Ditto for the 1992 Hvorostovsky/Shicoff (yes, that's the
one with the grovelling Dmitri). If you're not averse to buying
bootlegs (I'm not, as long as there are no legit versions available,
as is the case with these two performances), you can get them from
www.premiereopera.com for the ridiculously low price of USD$6.95
each. The Wunderlich/Prey is DVD5596; the Hvoro/Shicoff, DVD5387.
Expect bare-bones packaging and be prepared for a long wait. My orders
usually take at least six weeks to arrive, but I presume the delivery
lead time is shorter for US customers.
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Dec 23, 2008, 3:55:19 PM12/23/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Since our member Shawn has just sent me a youtube link for one of
Fritz Wunderlich's greatest recordings, I thought I'd use the
opportunity to re-open this thread and share the rendition with
everyone here.

The recording is one that was discussed earlier in this thread: Komm'
O holde Dame from the opera La Dame Blanche by Boieldieu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4QaATe7qDA&feature=email

Fritz is at his absolute best here in this very challenging aria, and,
as I think I mentioned earlier in this thread, he's also reminiscent
of Lanza in a couple of places. Do check it out if you haven't already
heard it! And thanks for uploading it, Shawn.

For David Savage's firsthand account of hearing Wunderlich on the
operatic stage, I recommend this thread:

http://groups.google.com/group/mariolanza/browse_thread/thread/964df8b0486eff25/



On Fri, Feb 1, 2008 at 2:19 AM, Muriel <mawsco...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> Thanks, Lou! Bootlegs are fine with me. I forgot about premieropera -
> silly of me as they are always sending me e-mails of their big sales!!
> I'll do it...M
>
> On Jan 31, 2:33 am, Lou <louab...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> No, Muriel, you won't find the 1962 Wunderlich/Prey Eugene Onegin on
>> the Met web site nor on Amazon.com because it is not a commercial
>> recording. Ditto for the 1992 Hvorostovsky/Shicoff (yes, that's the
>> one with the grovelling Dmitri). If you're not averse to buying
>> bootlegs (I'm not, as long as there are no legit versions available,
>> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comfor the ridiculously low price of USD$6.95
>> ...
>>
>> read more »- Hide quoted text -

ShawDAMAN

unread,
Dec 23, 2008, 4:16:27 PM12/23/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Yes I agree- especially the way he attacks the final Bb reminds me of
Lanza. This is the first recording of Wunderlich's I ever heard and I
thought "wow he's good- reminds me of Lanza" :-)

I wonder what Lanza thought of Wunderlich and Vice-versa, since they
were rough contemporaries...
But I better read this thread to make sure I'm not being
redundant. ;-)

Thanks!

On Dec 23, 3:55 pm, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Since our member Shawn has just sent me a youtube link for one of
> Fritz Wunderlich's greatest recordings, I thought I'd use the
> opportunity to re-open this thread and share the rendition with
> everyone here.
>
> The recording is one that was discussed earlier in this thread: Komm'
> O holde Dame from the opera La Dame Blanche by Boieldieu:
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4QaATe7qDA&feature=email
>
> Fritz is at his absolute best here in this very challenging aria, and,
> as I think I mentioned earlier in this thread, he's also reminiscent
> of Lanza in a couple of places. Do check it out if you haven't already
> heard it! And thanks for uploading it, Shawn.
>
> For David Savage's firsthand account of hearing Wunderlich on the
> operatic stage, I recommend this thread:
>
> http://groups.google.com/group/mariolanza/browse_thread/thread/964df8...
>
> On Fri, Feb 1, 2008 at 2:19 AM, Muriel <mawscompu...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > Thanks, Lou! Bootlegs are fine with me. I forgot about premieropera -
> > silly of me as they are always sending me e-mails of their big sales!!
> > I'll do it...M
>
> > On Jan 31, 2:33 am, Lou <louab...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >> No, Muriel, you won't find the 1962 Wunderlich/Prey Eugene Onegin on
> >> the Met web site nor on Amazon.com because it is not a commercial
> >> recording. Ditto for the 1992 Hvorostovsky/Shicoff (yes, that's the
> >> one with the grovelling Dmitri). If you're not averse to buying
> >> bootlegs (I'm not, as long as there are no legit versions available,
> >> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comforthe ridiculously low price of USD$6.95
> ...
>
> read more »

Derek McGovern

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Dec 23, 2008, 4:54:48 PM12/23/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Shawn: Yes, it would be fascinating to know what Wunderlich thought
of Lanza. I imagine Fritz would have had the highest respect for
Mario's voice, and the way he used it, since words were obviously so
important to him as well. It's just possible, of course, that Fritz
attended one of Mario's recitals in Germany in 1958; in fact, a fellow
in Australia (not Armando!) claims to have seen a photo of the two men
backstage together. Now wouldn't *that* be something?!

I did post an inquiry once on a Fritz Wunderlich website, asking if
the two ever met -- and also what Wunderlich thought of Lanza as a
singer -- but no sooner had I done so than the forum was closed down!
Still, there should be a way of contacting someone in Germany who
might know...even Fritz's widow, perhaps. Another piece of detective
work for our Lou?!

Assuming that Lanza didn't meet Wunderlich, it's quite likely that he
wasn't aware of the latter, as Fritz's career didn't really start to
take off until the end of 1959.

Cheers
Derek
> > >> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comfortheridiculously low price of USD$6.95
> ...
>
> read more »
Message has been deleted

ShawDAMAN

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Dec 23, 2008, 7:58:00 PM12/23/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
That *would* be something :)

Yes, I think some detective work is in order here ;-) might be hard
though.
> > > >> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comfortheridiculouslylow price of USD$6.95
> ...
>
> read more »

Ann-Mai

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Dec 26, 2008, 5:10:06 AM12/26/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Fritz Wunderlich and Hermann Prey singing "Stille Nacht" AKA "Silent
Night".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLzqtjR7-fc

Merry Christmas everyone!
> > > > >> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comfortheridiculouslylowprice of USD$6.95
> > read more »- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -

Derek McGovern

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Jan 10, 2009, 2:49:42 PM1/10/09
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Just an update on the vexed question of whether Wunderlich and Lanza
did indeed meet: I've written e-mails to both Fred Scharf, author of a
recent biography (in German) on Wunderlich, and to the German Fritz
Wunderlich Society (Fritz-Wunderlich-Gesellschaft, Kusel), but so far
have heard nothing back from either of them.

Basically, what I asked them both was:

1/ What did Fritz Wunderlich think of Lanza's voice and singing?

2/ Did Wunderlich ever attend one of Mario Lanza's recitals?

3/. It has been claimed that Wunderlich met Lanza in 1958 after one of
Lanza's recitals in Germany that year, and that a photograph of the
two men was taken. Can you verify such a meeting -- and, if so, does
indeed a photo of this auspicious encounter exist?

Given that I've drawn blanks so far -- not helped by the fact that I
don't speak a word of German -- if any of our German-speaking members
would like to undertake their own detective work on the questions
above, then, please, be my guest!

Message has been deleted

Heidi

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Jan 28, 2009, 4:46:24 PM1/28/09
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hello Derek
one week ago I`ve written an e-mail to the fritz wunderlich -
gesellschaft, asking them if they did know anything about a meeting of
these two men or if they are having a photo of them. Today I recieved
a mail from Ilse Hinkelmann, this Lady is looking after his estate
sinc 30 years. She told me, that to her knowledge the two men never
met and no photo was taken.
Cheers
Heidi
On 23 Dez. 2008, 22:54, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> > > >> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comfortheridiculouslylow price of USD$6.95
> ...
>
> Erfahren Sie mehr »- Zitierten Text ausblenden -
>
> - Zitierten Text anzeigen -

Derek McGovern

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Jan 29, 2009, 2:12:26 PM1/29/09
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hello Heidi: Many thanks for writing to Ilse Hinkelmann. At least you
got a reply! I've heard nothing back from either the Wunderlich
Society or biographer Fred Scharf.

Actually, the one person who would have known if Wunderlich and Lanza
had met after one of the latter's recitals was Callinicos. Oh well, I
guess we can always ask Terry Robinson!

(Just kidding.)
> > > > >> as is the case with these two performances), you can get them fromwww.premiereopera.comfortheridiculouslylowprice of USD$6.95

Derek McGovern

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Feb 14, 2009, 9:23:00 PM2/14/09
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Just a further thought re the supposed Wunderlich/Lanza meeting: one
thing that gives the story a semblance of credibility is its source,
Steve Cutler of the Australian Lanza Society. I recently came across a
1998 message from Steve on a Wunderlich site in which he states that
he definitely saw a photograph in a German magazine of Mario and Fritz
together at Lanza's Munich concert on January 27, 1958 (http://
www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/guest1997.htm). Steve even posted
twice on the site asking if someone could provide him with a copy of
the photo. The fact that he was so emphatic about the date and
location does make me wonder...
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Sep 11, 2009, 3:30:52 PM9/11/09
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Emilio wrote:

>Thank you Derek for clarifying this point and thank you for the Wunderlich version. His was an extraordinary voice and filled with energy and passion. It is tragic that he also left us so >young. Did he leave a large body of work comparable to that of Mario's? How is he considered in the ranking of great tenors, in your view? All the best, E

Ciao Emilio: I've taken the liberty of moving your post from the new
Lanza CD thread to this one, as we were starting to get off-topic.
(Besides, I've been looking for an excuse to reopen this thread on one
of my favourite tenors!)

To answer your question, yes, Fritz Wunderlich left behind a very
large body of work, most of it recorded between the late 1950s and
1966. Here's his discography:

http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/wunderlich/discography/discogr.htm
(When you click on a genre -- opera, for example -- the titles show up
on the lefthand side of your screen.)

How is he regarded? Very highly indeed. He was just about to make his
debut at the Met when he died; had this happened, I feel, his
international career would have been huge.

Here's an interesting essay on Wunderlich (and Schmidt):

http://www.grandi-tenori.com/articles/articles_kurtzman_schmidt_and_wunderlich.htm

Cheers
Derek

Derek McGovern

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Dec 29, 2010, 4:46:17 AM12/29/10
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Given that we've been talking about the most beautiful tenor voices on record, I thought I'd revive this thread on the magnificent Fritz Wunderlich. 

While many of the YouTube links mentioned earlier are no longer valid, here's a more recently uploaded high-definition copy of Fritz's superb 1962 live performance of Lenski's Aria from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. If you've not all that familiar with Wunderlich, or have ever wondered why some of us here rave about him, hopefully this moving performance will explain why! (The buffering may take a while if you want to watch it in 720 HD, but it'll be well worth the wait!) English translation provided and good sound and picture.

Cheers
Derek

Tony Partington

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Dec 30, 2010, 7:23:33 AM12/30/10
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Derek: I'm so glad you reactivated this link.  Wunderlich did indeed have a beautiful voice.  It was so very different than Mario's but beautiful nonetheless.  I still enjoy his no-holds-barred version of "Granada," it's such fun.
 
With it still being the holiday time I though some folks on the forum might enjoy the following two links.  They are the two opening arias from Handel's MESSIAH, in German of course, but beautifully sung by Wunderlich.  They date from 1959.
 
Cheers to all and Happy New Year!
 
Ciao Tony
 
 
 

Derek McGovern

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Dec 30, 2010, 8:51:58 AM12/30/10
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Tony: Thanks for sharing those. I was only able to play the first one, though -- the glitch is probably at my end, as it's happened before.

Fritz certainly sounds good here (in 1959), and it's worth noting that he continued to improve over the next few years (especially in his upper register). He's one of the few singers who can make me (kind of) enjoy Handel (and lieder, for that matter)! I particularly like his Ombra Mai Fu (the Italian version he does more than his German one -- not that his actual Italian pronunciation was that good!), and he's also well suited to plaintive things like "Son nata a lagrimar" from Handel's Guilio Cesare.

Yes, it's a beautiful voice, all right! While I'd have to admit there's a slight metallic edge (or harshness) to it at times, he still makes it into my top five most beautiful tenor sounds. 

Cheers
Derek

Derek McGovern

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Jul 13, 2013, 12:17:21 AM7/13/13
to mario...@googlegroups.com
I came across an interesting webpage the other day by Jan Neckers, the well-known Belgian music critic and Bjoerling aficionado.

In a provocative article on Fritz Wunderlich, Neckers argues that the tenor had merely a good voice, not a great one, and that even his famous 1965 version of "Granada" is exciting more because of the recording engineers' manipulation than anything else.

He also compares Wunderlich unfavourably to Lanza:

If you want another proof that Wunderlich was not a vocal miracle (and there are few vocal miracles) take track 8 where even all the help of the engineers is not enough to convince us that Wunderlich equals Mario Lanza (who, of course in those days, was a non-person and not mentioned in the sleeve notes). Wunderlich not only shirks the top C at the end of the song but he lacks the natural almost leisurely surety of a real miracle voice. His English is unidiomatic and he over enunciates the consonants in the well-known German way. One realizes this is a good voice which by sheer hard work has gone far and now has all the necessary qualities for a world career: incisiveness, legato, a good top though lacking those two qualities absolutely necessary in this repertoire: charm and warmth. Wunderlich was no Lanza and he was even less a Richard Tauber.

Derek McGovern

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Jul 14, 2013, 12:18:57 AM7/14/13
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Just a clarification to the above: the song that Neckers is discussing ('track 8") in the quoted paragraph is "Be My Love." 

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 6:09:09 AM9/17/16
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

In Memoriam: Fritz Wunderlich.

 

This day, 17 September 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of death of the great German lyric tenor, Fritz Wunderlich (1930 - 1966). When Wunderlich died in Heidelberg he was only shy of his 36th birthday. He left his wife Eva and three little children, Constanze, Wolfgang and Barbara.

 

“The passing of an artist is always cause of regret. The senseless passing of an artist in his prime – perhaps even just before it – is cause for mourning of the profoundest sort.

Such is the case with Fritz Wunderlich. To American music lovers, Wunderlich was just a name and a sound. Operatic cognoscenti had heard reports of his extraordinary successes – mostly in Mozart – from Salzburg, Vienna, Munich, occasionally Holland and France. Record collectors knew him better, from superlative mementos of his Hans in ‘The Bartered Bride’ … Tamino in ‘Die Zauberflöte’ … and Leukippos in ‘Daphne’…, not to mention numerous Bach oratorios, collections of arias, and several complete operas in which, with characteristic conscientiousness, he undertook secondary assignments.

Had fate not intervened, Wunderlich would soon have become a familiar figure on our stages as well. He was to have made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Don Ottavio in ‘Don Giovanni’ Saturday. With his commanding stage presence, high degree of musicality, and exceptional vocal resources, his future looked bright.

But a month ago, Fritz Wunderlich stumbled and fell down a flight of stairs in Heilbronn, Germany. He died in a Heidelberg hospital Sept.17. Like his beloved Mozart, he was a few weeks shy of his 36th birthday. With him died one of the most beautiful and most promising voices before the public – and certainly the finest exponent of the lyric tenor repertory to emerge from Germany since Richard Tauber.” (Martin Bernheimer in The Los Angeles Times, 9 Oct.1966.”

 

“It is no secret that tenors, really fine tenors who can sing with musicianship, warmth, and perceptive understanding of the composer’s ‘raptus’ are very rare. Such a tenor was Fritz Wunderlich, the German lyric tenor … Wunderlich could sing ‘O Lola’ or ‘Nessun dorma’ or ‘Dies Bildnis’ (‘Zauberflöte’) or Toselli’s ‘Serenade’ or ‘Aennchen von Tharau’ or a popular tune like ‘Granada’ and he could sing them with a magical quality for which he had the patent.” (Henry S. Humphreys in The Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 October 1967).

 

 

In my post I would like to tell a little bit about Wunderlich’s time in my hometown Freiburg and since I am no Wunderlich expert I will mainly be quoting excerpts from the Fritz Wunderlich biography written by Werner Pfister but also from some other sources (All translations by Steff, please do not use them without my permission!).

 

Between 1950 and 1955 Fritz Wunderlich studied at the Academy of Music in my hometown Freiburg im Breisgau (Black Forest). He had taken singing lessons before, first in his hometown Kusel (Palatine), then in Kaiserslautern, but his years of study in Freiburg truly laid the foundation for his becoming a professional singer. Unfortunately his career - a career straightforward and ambitious, without any comedowns, would only span eleven years and ended tragically and untimely due to a fatal accident – Gone all too soon!

 

“God allows a human being to rise to him up to the verge of perfection. But he alone determines the time of accomplishment.” (Marianne Decker, née Wunderlich, Wunderlich’s elder sister).

 

 

Wunderlich studied singing under Margarethe von Winterfeldt (23 January 1902 - 7 October 1978) – masterclass - and French horn under Lothar Leonards. His minor study subject was the piano under Friedrich Finke.

 

Until 1983 the Academy of Music, founded in 1946, was located at the Münsterplatz/Cathedral Square in the “Wentzingerhaus,” a Baroque building which nowadays houses the “Museum für Stadtgeschichte” [museum for municipal history]. The building was one of the few in the historical area around the cathedral, the heart of Freiburg, that fortunately had not been laid to ashes by the horrible bombardment of the British Air Force on that fatal day of 27 November 1944.

 

“When you enter the old, beautiful Wentzingerhaus at the Domplatz (cathedral square) in Freiburg it is strange to hear from all corners the music of Strawinsky, Hindemith, Bartók and other recent composers. And it seems almost paradoxical that in this old building you can find the most modern music academy in Germany. There are no modern and suitable classrooms, no carpets, no cushioned and soundproof double doors and no representative shrines for the professors.  Some rooms are only equipped with a piano, a plain wooden bench and maybe a music stand. The director’s ‘office’ is a tiny snug with an old desk and an armchair.”  … Noted artists form the academic staff of the school. These are all personalities who, apart from their great technical qualities, know how to get in human contact with the pupils. The number of students is not allowed to exceed 240 pupils… The selection of students who are admitted takes place under extraordinarily strict standards. This avoids the inflow of only average talent to this profession which is still sought after by many young people and which offers to only a few a substantive existence for their future life.“ [From the magazine “Illustrierte Funkwelt” as quoted in Werner Pfister’s book, page 43].

 

 

Although his years in Freiburg were full of privation and financial shortcomings Fritz Wunderlich considered his years of studies in Freiburg as “the defining time of his life.”

 

“In Freiburg my brother got the opportunity to dedicate himself completely to what inspired him from his earliest childhood days: Music all over. Despite his homesickness that afflicted him he was ambitious up to the point of self- abandonment – and he was happy.” [As once remarked by Wunderlich’s elder sister, Marianne Decker, née Wunderlich].

 

 

In October 1950 the entrance examination took place at the Freiburg Music Academy:

 

“The audition took place in the main building of the State Academy at the Münsterplatz  [Cathedral Square], on the first floor in the so called oval hall. All the Academy professors were sitting together. Wunderlich sang two Schubert songs … ‘And he did it with a wonderful, yet still crude voice,’ as Margarethe von Winterfeldt, who directed the singing master class and sat in the auditorium with her professor colleagues, would tell later. ‘He sang very emotionally and with all his heart. When he stopped singing, he remarked: ‘It sounded kind of schmaltzy, didn’t it? Well, that’s what I would like to learn here: How to do it in a different way.’

More than half of the singers failed the entrance examination; Wunderlich, however, passed and was accepted as a singing pupil for the forthcoming winter semester.”  At the end of October the semester started, so he immediately had to look for a residence in Freiburg. He found a room in the heart of the historical centre of the city at the Rempartstrasse 3 [Note from Steff: The street is close to the area of Freiburg’s long standing alma mater, yet the original building No.3 does not exist anymore!]. The room even had a piano which would make it easy for him to practice.” [Pfister, page 40].

 

 

“At first, Fritz Wunderlich felt lost among the illustrious company of students who were coming from all directions. ‘I virtually had seen the world only as far as Kaiserslautern and by then didn’t know anybody but my inner circle of friends,’ he [Wunderlich] would tell years later. ‘Freiburg, to me, was a completely new world…’  The move from Kusel to Freiburg [note from Steff: Kusel is about 175 kilometres away from Freiburg] was hard for him and caused kind of culture shock. Huge parts of the city were still lying in ruins. Often he would be longing for the rural comfort of his Palatine home. It was the first time that he was away from home, torn away from the places of his childhood. New things flocked to him and would replace his old habits […]. [Pfister page 45, 46].

 

“… during the first weeks Fritz was already looking for a job to earn his living. He had to pay for his studies and his living himself as there was no financial support. Thus it was quite obvious that he would try it with dance music like he had already done in Kusel. He was experienced enough, too. Hackbraten [note from Steff: This was the nickname of his fellow student Hans-Martin Hackbarth with whom Wunderlich shared the room at the Rempartstrasse] wanted to accompany him at the piano so why not give it a try and maybe why not downstairs in their house at the Rempartstrasse, in the inn called “Breisacher Hof” - although this was kind of louche place and there was rumour of stabbings taking place there at night. The innkeeper agreed: It would be worth a try, preferably at the weekends. ‘And so we virtually played on demand, sometimes already starting on Fridays. We mostly played on Saturdays and even on Sundays when it was busy. It was always from 8 p.m. until midnight.’ Fritz would play the accordion and the big drum with his foot on the pedal. ‘At midnight the bouncer would go from table to table to collect the money for us. We got five and sometimes even ten Marks and afterwards would still sit together to play skat.’

They also sang together. ‘When Fritz was in very good mood he would imitate the jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, ‘Blueberry Hill,’ for example, and play his trumpet. He would also sing like Armstrong. It was a magnificently funny skit.’ A few months later the duo became a trio. Another Academy music student who lived in an attic room in the same house took over the drums, Fritz continued playing the accordion and the trumpet, and Hackbarth accompanied them at the piano. After about a year they parted company as a band. Fritz joined another band called ‘Die flotten Fünf’ [The Smart Five]. Often he would play music in some surrounding rural inns and pubs outside of Freiburg.” [Pfister, page 47].

 

 

“During the first three semesters Wunderlich mainly focused on the horn studies. If he did not succeed with the singing he could at least become a good French hornist. ‘The first encounter with him was already very pleasant,’ his teacher Lothar Leonards told. ‘He was highly musical and had already played the French horn a little bit.’ ….. The singing lessons were without doubt more interesting and exciting. Twice a week Wunderlich climbed up the stairs to the first floor of the Wentzingerhaus where Margarethe von Winterfeldt gave her singing lessons in a corner room overlooking the Münsterplatz/Cathedral Square. She was from Potsdam and had been blind since her childhood. However, she possessed an incredible grasp. She had studied the piano and singing and later appeared as a concert singer. Early she would devote herself to the educational work, at first in Berlin and later, at the end of the war, in Freiburg where she overtook a singing master class.” [Pfister, page 47].

 

In the first two or three semesters it was already becoming evident that Fritz Wunderlich‘s singing sounded exceptionally natural, that it was not artificial and nothing seemed to sound trained. …” [Pfister, page 48].

 

“Margarethe von Winterfeldt was extremely important for him. She gave him moral support, not only from a singing or musical-artistic point of view. She also took the place of his mother in some certain aspects, taught him gentlemanly manners and thus helped him to overcome the culture shock the move from Kusel to Freiburg had caused.

In retrospect two things were of central importance in Wunderlich’s singing education. The first was that Margarethe von Winterfeldt always referred the young singer to his very own instinct, in other words she instilled him with self-confidence and taught him to trust his emotions. On the other hand she always urged him to make himself aware of all that happened when he was singing. The singing was supposed to be something natural. Consequently it had to be based on natural conditions.” [Pfister, page 48, 49]

 

“Whenever he entered the classroom his teacher would already sit at the piano. At the beginning of each singing lesson she would chat with him trying to sense the current condition of her pupil on that day as well as his worries and hardships. Whenever she noticed that he was not having a good day and that he was stressed, she would adapt to this situation. In such a situation she never would have insisted on an obligatory workload.

For the most part her lesson was a technical one; Practicing intonation and resonance, singing intervals and doing breathing exercises over and over.” [Pfister, page 49].

 

 

“By now Fritz had settled down at the Academy. Everyone felt like belonging to a big family and even when there was no lesson scheduled one would call to the academy every day, first of all to practice but also to have a chat with the colleagues to exchange opinions. ‘Fritz was always embracing and sparkling. He got along with anybody and always set the right tone. Actually he was a cheerful person always beaming at anyone. No dark clouds seemed to spoil his mood; he just would not allow them to come near. He won all hearts, the women’s hearts too.” [Pfister, page 53].

 

 

Fritz Wunderlich stayed with Winterfeldt [note from Steff: The first opera baritone of the Municipal Theater (Städtische Bühnen Freiburg), Fritz Harlan, meanwhile had offered to teach him] and continued to focus on ‘Lieder’ and old music. He mainly sang the famous ‘Arie antiche,’ a collection of Italian Baroque arias by Carissimi, Cesti, Bononcini, Händel, Lully and numerous other composers. In the evenings he would play the latest ‘Schlager’ [pop songs] at some dancing events. There could not have been a greater contrast. Yet, this did not have a negative but rather positive effect on Wunderlich and was a path breaking experience, as Wunderlich would confirm later: ‘In Freiburg I immediately came in contact with old music. Scheck [the director of the Music Academy] admitted me to the noted “Kammermusikkreis Scheck-Wenzinger [chamber music circle]. It had been founded in 1930 and was the first Baroque ensemble that played music with old instruments. Besides I played dance music to finance my studies. I played jazz, the trumpet and the accordion and I sang jazz, and the next morning I would go back to my studies and sing old arias - first and foremost the old masters such as Monteverdi and Lully. I think that this was a very important time for my later development because I learned something that is immensely important not only for a singer but also for any musician: The sense of style. If you have sense of style and you know how to distinguish things you practically will not be harmed. You can do any kind of music then without losing your face.’

It was this unerring instinct that mostly stunned Wunderlich’s fellow students: ‘This man had instinct,’ Manfred Schuler remembered, ‘Incomparable! Others would need years to understand things but he managed them at one go – not only vocally but also instinctively. Apart from that Fritz was extremely determined. It appeared to us that from the very first moment he knew exactly where his journey would lead him to. He just simply was convinced about that and he rigorously refined himself … concerning his singing he was highly intelligent and possessed an incredible intuition.’

Even his roommate Hans-Martin Hackbarth confirmed: ‘Fritz was extremely confident stylistically. Out of the blue he could sing and shape Haydn, Bach or Schubert stylistically confident. This had nothing to do with intelligence. He simply was a subtly sensing natural talent. He did not give it too much thoughts but he knew offhand that things had to be this and not that way. He acted instinctively. Without preparation he would instinctively bring off each kind of music.’ [Pfister page 55, 56].

 

 

“Incidentally, for some time past the two [Wunderlich and Hackbarth] had a new address: Tellstrasse 16, across the railroad in the “Stühlinger” [an old district of Freiburg]. They called their tenement “Villa Heuboden.” It was an attic flat on the sixth [Steff: 5th??] floor. Only Hackbarth had a normal room, Fritz would accommodate himself a home in the kitchen while the remaining rooms were used by the landlord. Each morning he came to the kitchen to get some water for his morning coffee. But Fritz didn’t mind at all. Usually he and Hackbarth spent the mornings at the Café Schill right around the corner. Each time they would sit at the same table, order the breakfast coffee and often even enjoy a piece of cake and play chess.  Later on everybody would pursue his duties, attending lectures or having singing lessons.” [Pfister, page 56]. [Steff – on a personal note: My mother at that time quasi lived “around the corner” of the Tellstrasse, in the Guntramstrasse, which is the next street over to be correct. Here her family owned a house and she would live there from her birth until her marriage in 1967; The Café Schill was located at the Guntramstrasse and the building does still exist].

 

“Incidentally, Fritz was a perfect host and passionate cook. With planks he had crafted a little shelve. At the bottom there was space for his shoes, in the middle he stored some cookware and on the top he had his little cooker on which he would sizzle and fry all the evening.” [Pfister, page 66]

 

 

During his years of studies Wunderlich would take part in many concerts, mainly in Freiburg but also on other places. Concerts in Freiburg were, for example:

 

1)

“Geistliche Abendmusik” [sacred evening music] organized by the Johann-Walter Kantorei at the Lutherhirche [Luther Church] on 28 June 1953.

[Steff on another personal note: My mother was confirmed the very same year in this Protestant church which had been destroyed by the 1944 bombardment and whose reconstruction was finished in 1953 with the very first masses taking place early that year].

 

2)

Concert “Konzert zum Totensonntag” with the Freiburg Bach Choir at the Paulussaal on 22 November 1953, conductor: Theodor Egel.

 

3)

Bach Choir concert “Weihnachtsoratorium” [Christmas oratorio] in December 1953, at the Luther Church.

 

4)

“Der Bettelstudent” by Carl Millöcker, Wunderlich in the role of Jan Janicki,

Stadttheater Freiburg/Municipal Theatre (“opera house”), 1954

 

5)

Concert at the City Hall, Haydn oratorio “Die Jahreszeiten” [The Seasons],

11 June 1955, conductor: Rolf Ummenhofer

 

6)

Wunderlich also took part in a few concerts with the “Freiburger Singgemeinschaft,” a male chorus that performed folk songs from many countries with Wunderlich singing some solos.

 

 

Around this time Wunderlich was also discovered for another musical genre:

Willi Stech, the leading conductor of the “Kleines Rundfunkorchester” of the SWF [a local radio station] wanted Wunderlich to make light entertainment recordings with him: popular and operetta songs as well as waltz airs.  It was on 8 December 1953 [Steff: or 9?] that Wunderlich made his very first studio recordings at the SWF studios, and the recording sessions would continue the following years, even after Wunderlich had ended his studies at the Freiburg Academy and left for Stuttgart.

If you are interested, please look up for the CD “Wunderlich Populär” (Polydor) which I highly recommend. It is a compilation of some of those light entertainment songs (“Schlager”) recorded with the “Kleines Rundfunkorchester des SWF” under the baton of Willi Stech. A few tracks even have solo numbers of Fritz Wunderlich playing the trumpet.

 

It was not appreciated by everybody, however, that Wunderlich made this kind of recordings:

Only recently there had been some trouble because he [Wunderlich] had repeatedly recorded light entertainment songs with Willi Stech at the regional studio. Some Academy professors apparently thought that such activities would not benefit his voice, and, what would be even worse, would stain his reputation as a “serious singer” and the outstanding reputation of the Freiburg Academy. Just imagine: A singing student, the most talented and successful of all, drifts off to popular music singing tearjerkers instead of taking his vocation of being an earnest singer.” [Pfister, page 70].

However, Wunderlich would continue recording this kind of music.

 

On 21 and 23 July 1954 Fritz Wunderlich sang Tamino in Mozart’s “Zauberflöte” at the Freiburg Paulussaal. These student performances were organized by the Freiburg Academy. It was the first time he would sing the role of Tamino (Tamino was to become his signature role) and strangely enough it would also be the last role he sang before his untimely death; this was in summer 1966 when the Stuttgart Opera company visited the Edinburgh.

In a letter to his mother Wunderlich shared his impressions of the first Freiburg performance:

 

“‘Before the performance started I was in a state of complete daze. When the overture finished and I jumped onto the stage to open the piece I knew that this performance would decide my whole life … When I was singing the “Bildnis” aria right at the beginning all my energy suddenly came back; I didn’t noticed the 2,000 people in the audience anymore but I knew that all would be over if I didn’t regain my composure. When I had sung the last notes, I thought to myself ‘Good heavens, let them clap!’ And when I heard the thunderous applause of 2,000 people cheering enthusiastically I almost collapsed out of joy. I knew I had won. Hereafter I sang as I had never sung before and I was borne by the feeling of being in contact with the public.

When I came on the stage after the performance was finished the applause became a hurricane, flowers were thrown onto the stage, I bewilderedly stood there and didn’t know what happened to me. I could not believe that Freiburg’s theatre audience would acknowledge me so quickly. With this success I have finally pushed the gate open to my profession which I adore so very much! All deprivations and worries are awarded now. I had to come onto the stage again and again … My mind is profoundly happy and apart from that I am also proud a little bit’” [Pfister, page 67, 68).

 

Towards the end of his studies in Freiburg, early in 1955, Wunderlich was offered a contract to sing at the Freiburg opera. Only a few weeks later the Stuttgart opera offered him a five-year contract after he had auditioned there. He accepted the Stuttgart offer:

 

“’Actually, Fritz was hooked by the offer from Freiburg,’ his fellow student Manfred Schuler remembers. ‘But then the offer from Stuttgart came and I still remember Fritz saying: ‘Now I suddenly have two offers. In Freiburg I could immediately sing the great roles, in Stuttgart, however, I only get a little contract. Nevertheless I prefer going to Stuttgart; in Freiburg I would burn out all too sudden. I would have to perform on stage each night, and that’s not good for a novice.’”

 

 

Wunderlich completed his studies in Freiburg in July 1955. His contract with the Württemberg State Theatre in Stuttgart was to start on 1 August 1955. His farewell letter to the Freiburg Music Academy concludes with:

 

“…I would like to thank the Academy, first of all Herrn Professor Dr. Scheck, for the financial support. Without this it would have been impossible for me to complete my studies. In gratitude for this I will do everything to reciprocate the trust the Academy and all my teachers set into me.

The five years of studies that I now leave behind me have been the most valuable and wonderful in my life. They made me a human being that is aware about its destination and for which only one thing counts which is to reach this goal.

Again, let me express my deepest thanks. May all young people who study at the Academy, make so many valuable experiences for their lives as I am allowed to do now.’  Fritz Wunderlich.” [Pfister, page 74]

 

 

Although Fritz Wunderlich left Freiburg for Stuttgart he would return to Freiburg for many more recording sessions and for concerts.

 

Among the venues Wunderlich appeared at in Freiburg were the “Paulussaal/Paulus Hall, the Luther Church, the Stadthalle (Civic Hall), the Municipal Theatre and the Konrad’s Church [Steff on another personal note: The latter venue, the Konrad’s Church, was only a stone’s throw away from the flat I lived in for about ten years – just another coincidence!].

 

 

Incidentally, as already mentioned, Wunderlich badly suffered from homesickness during his Freiburg time. Out of this emotion he composed the nowadays famous Kusel-Lied/Kusel song, “Mein Kusel in der Pfalz.”

 

“At times he would climb up on his own the countless stairs of the Freiburg Cathedral tower to look in giddy heights towards his homeland. He felt homesick and would often suffer from his love of his home and the memories related to it. It was during the first months in Freiburg that out of such an emotion he wrote down a few rhymes up on the cathedral’s tower, and years later the rhymes, set to music by himself, would set forth on a journey around the world.” [Pfister, page 45]

 

 

Listen to Fritz Wunderlich singing the Kusel Lied:

 

http://fritz-wunderlich-ges.com/en/kusellied/

 

 

Well, I really hope you enjoyed my little “Fritz Wunderlich in Freiburg” journey. Please don’t forget to look at the attached pictures. In a post following this I will post a few tracks for your listening pleasure. These are – apart from “Vergiss mein nicht” all live and studio recordings from Freiburg.

 

 

Incidentally, to commemorate the great lyric tenor’s 50th anniversary there are two new official releases by Deutsche Grammophone:

 

“Fritz Wunderlich – The 50 Greatest Tracks,” (Double CD). I understand these tracks were selected by Wunderlich’s wife Eva.

 

„Fritz Wunderlich – Complete Studio Recordings,“ 32 CD box set.

 

 

Steff

 

 

Please visit the official website of the Fritz Wunderlich Gesellschaft/Society


http://fritz-wunderlich-ges.com/en/home/

Wunderlich Foto No.1.JPG
Wunderlich Foto No.2.JPG
Wunderlich Foto No.3.JPG
Wunderlich Foto No.4.JPG
Wunderlich Foto No.5.JPG
Wunderlich Foto No.6.JPG

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 6:29:56 AM9/17/16
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

Continued: “In Memoriam Fritz Wunderlich”

 

Here are the promised recordings, five of them are from Freiburg and the last one is from Berlin.

 

 

1)

„Selig sind, die da Leid tragen“ (Blessed Are They That Mourn) from 'In terra pax' (oratorio breve) by Frank Martin,

Fritz Wunderlich & the Philharmonic Orchestra Freiburg,

Conductor: Theodor Egel

Live recording from the Paulussaal, Freiburg, 22 Nov. 1953

 


To be continued...

1 Selig sind,die da Leid tragen from 'In terra pax' by Frank Martin, Fritz Wunderlich & the Philharmonic Orchestra Freiburg, live recording, 22 Nov. 1953, Paulussaal, Freiburg.mp3

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 6:33:28 AM9/17/16
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

Continued “In Memoriam Fritz Wunderlich”

 

2)

„Mädele” by Walter Jäger, studio recording, 8 or 9 Dec. 1953, Freiburg

Fritz Wunderlich’s very first radio studio recording session

Kleines Rundfunkorchester des SWF, conducted by Willi Stech, SWF studio

(“Mädele” means ‘girl’ in our local Baden dialect).


To be continued ...

=?UTF-8?Q?2_M=C3=A4dele_by_Walter_J=C3=A4ger,_sung_by_Fritz_\"; filename*1=\"Wunder?= =?UTF-8?Q?lich,_studio_recording_Dec._1953,_Freibur\"; filename*2=\"g.mp3?=

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 6:39:27 AM9/17/16
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

Continued “In Memoriam Fritz Wunderlich”

 

3)

„Du, du liegst mir im Herzen“ (You, You are in My Heart), traditional song  Fritz Wunderlich with the 'Freiburger Singgemeinschaft,'

Live recording from the Paulussaal, Freiburg, 10 Oct.1954

Freiburger Singgemeinschaft (male choir), conductor: Ernst Scherer

Special arrangement for Wunderlich by Ernst Scherer


To be continued ...

3 Du, du liegst mir im Herzen, traditional, Fritz Wunderlich with the 'Freiburger Singgemeinschaft,' Live recording at the Paulussaal, Freiburg, 10 Oct. 1954.mp3

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 6:42:01 AM9/17/16
to mario...@googlegroups.com

Continued “In Memoriam Fritz Wunderlich”


4)

„Auf der Strasse nach Dijon,“ (On the Route to Dijon – German/French lyrics) traditional song

Auf der Strasse nach Dijon.mp3

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 7:02:40 AM9/17/16
to mario...@googlegroups.com

Continued “In Memoriam Fritz Wunderlich”


5)

“Carissima mia” by Hans Berner, studio recording, 24 Oct. 1955, Freiburg

Kleines Rundfunkorchester des SWF, conducted by Willi Stech, SWF studio

With a trumpet solo by Fritz Wunderlich


To be continued ...  

5 Carissima mia by Hans Berner sung by Fritz Wunderlich, studio recording, Oct. 1955, Freiburg.zip

Steff Walzinger

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Sep 17, 2016, 7:07:13 AM9/17/16
to mario...@googlegroups.com

Continued “In Memoriam Fritz Wunderlich”


6)

“Vergiss mein nicht” (Non ti scordar di me/Forget Me Not) by Ernesto Di Curtis, German lyrics by Ernst Marischka

Live Recording, Berlin, Philharmonie, 19 Febr. 1966

Grosses RIAS – Unterhaltungsorchester, conducted by Hans Carste

There are 4 recordings of Wunderlich singing this song which are two studio and two live recordings. This one is the 4th recording and it was recorded the year Wunderlich died. Listen how he sings his heart out towards the end of the song!

 

„Und kommt der Tag,

Der uns den Abschied bringt,

Bitte, vergiss mein nicht!“

 

“And when the day will come

That we have to say goodbye,

Please don’t forget me!”



 

Steff 

6 Vergiss mein nicht (Non ti scordar di me) by Di Curtis, Fritz Wunderlich, Live Recording, Berlin, 19 February 1966.mp3

Steff Walzinger

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Nov 21, 2016, 2:44:15 PM11/21/16
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

Yesterday, 20th November 2016, Eva Wunderlich, widow of the legendary German tenor Fritz Wunderlich, passed away shy of her 82nd birthday and 50 years after the untimely death of her husband. Fritz Wunderlich and Eva Jungnitsch, a harpist, got married in 1956.

 

My heartfelt sympathy to the Wunderlich family!

 

Tenor Piotr Bezcala who is friends with the Wunderlich family posted the news yesterday on his facebook site:

 

„Unsere Freundin und Frau von meinem geliebten Fritz Wunderlich ist heute von uns gegangen ... Sie war die positivste, klügste Frau mit sanftestem Laecheln und grossem Wissen ... Wir werden Sie sehr vermissen! R.I.P. liebe Eva Wunderlich.“

 

[Our friend and wife of my beloved Fritz Wunderlich left us today. She was the most positive and intelligent woman with the most gentle smile and a big knowledge… We will miss her very much! R.I.P., dear Eva Wunderlich.]

 

Steff

 

 

Eva Wunderlich, Widow of Fritz Wunderlich.JPG
Wunderlich Family, 1965.JPG

Steff Walzinger

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Feb 2, 2018, 6:48:58 PM2/2/18
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Hello everyone!


Yesterday I came across a you-tube video of an interview given by the German tenor Fritz Wunderlich which took  place during the Salzburg Festival in summer 1966. That season Wunderlich was singing in several performances of Mozart’s “Entführung aus dem Serail” (venue: Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburg) and he was also giving a “Lieder” recital on 14th August (venue: Stiftung Mozarteum, Salzburg).  Hard to believe that the tenor would pass away only one month later, just shy of his 36th birthday!

 

You can find the interview (German language only!) here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OCYo9awXgY

 

The ten minute interview was only broadcast after Wunderlich’s death (17th Sept. 1966),  on 20th November 1966. It took place at an inn at the “Gaisberg” /Salzburg. The interviewer was Ernst-Ludwig Gausmann (1928 – 2017), a German radio journalist and musicologist who was married to the Austrian soprano Leonie Rysanek.

 

I picked out an excerpt from the interview (starts at minute 7:27) and translated it into English:

 

Ernst-Ludwig Gausmann: „Herr Wunderlich, nun haben Sie neben Ihrer Tätigkeit an der Opernbühne und dem Liedgesang beziehungsweise Oratoriengesang, glaub‘ ich, in der letzten Zeit auch etwas der leichten Muse gehuldigt.“

 

“Mr. Wunderlich, I think apart from your activities on the opera stage and of singing “Lieder” and  oratorio music you lately also have paid a little homage to the light entertainment.”

 

 

Fritz Wunderlich: „Ja, das kann man sich als Tenor doch nicht entgehen lassen! Abgesehen von der Operette – ich habe bei vielen Operettenaufnahmen mitgewirkt- habe ich herausgebracht zwei Langspielplatten, die heißen „Welterfolge großer Tenöre.“ Darauf singe ich die bekannten großen Tenorlieder: Von Joseph Schmidt „Ein Lied geht um die Welt,“ Tiritomba,“ von Mario Lanza „Granada,“ von Gigli „O sole mio“ und so weiter und so weiter. Nun darf ich Ihnen dazu nur ganz allgemein sagen: Für  mich gibt es keine leichte, keine schwere Musik, für mich gibt es nur gute und schlechte Musik. Und für mich gibt es nur eines: alles was ich mache versuche ich so gut und mit dem größtmöglichen Einsatz als es mir irgend geht, zu machen.“

 

“Yes, surely no tenor could miss out on that! Apart from operetta – and I have taken part in many operetta recordings – I have released two recordings titled “Welterfolge großer Tenöre” (World Successes of Great Tenors). There I sing the famous great tenor songs of Joseph Schmidt, “Ein Lied geht um die Welt” and “Tiritomba,”  “Granada” of Mario Lanza, and “O sole mio” of Gigli, and so on and so on. Generally speaking let me just say that for me there’s no light and no serious[heavy] music, there’s only good and bad music. And to me only one thing is important : Everything I do I try to do as good as possible and with best possible commitment.”

 

Incidentally, in the interview Wunderlich speaks about two recordings but mentions only one title which is “Welterfolge großer Tenöre.” (recorded January 1965) . Actually, the title of the second album was „Du bist die Welt für mich“ (recorded in May 1965 – apparently in a one-day recording session!) which included “Be My Love” by Brodszky and Wunderlich’s unmatched “Granada.”

 

Steff

Derek McGovern

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Feb 3, 2018, 7:52:19 AM2/3/18
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That's a neat find, Steff: the only known occasion on which Wunderlich publicly mentioned Lanza---and as a "great tenor" no less! 

Steff Walzinger

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Feb 16, 2021, 7:17:19 AM2/16/21
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It is so many years ago, that a poster here asked about the achievements of Fritz Wunderlich. I cannot locate this post at the moment and don’t remember the name of the poster and if he’s still around.

Anyway, I was just going through e-mails from the past and came across an e-mail from a friend who, like me, is member of the Fritz Wunderlich Gesellschaft in Kusel.

He – now in his 70s - has been a devoted fan and researcher for decades (never saw Wunderlich live), a very knowledgeable man, whom I consult whenever I have questions about the tenor. He never fails in giving an extensive answer and at times even surprises me with amazing "goodies." (Yet he still refuses to provide me with the mysterious photo showing Mario and Fritz which he has kept under lock and keys for years! - Only kidding!)

Asked about a list of performances some years ago, he gave me the following numeric overview of Fritz Wunderlich’s career, which, I think, is quite impressive for a man who died in his mid 30s. These are known performances, so it is quite likely that even more will be unearthed for the time to come:

485 opera and operetta performances in Stuttgart/Germany (the city where he got his first contract at the State Opera after having graduated from the Freiburg Music Academy in 1955)

288 opera performances in Munich/Germany

102 opera performances in Vienna/Austria

Ca. 110 Opera performances in other cities which included Germany (Hamburg: 10, Cologne: 5, West Berlin: 5, East Berlin: 1), Europe (Straßburg/France: 4; Salzburg/Austria: at least 20; Rome/Italy), Argentina/Buenos Aires: 14

153 concerts, oratorios, masses, passions and „entertainment evenings.“

38 Lieder recitals and 45 more with Hubert Giesen at the piano.

Countless studio recordings for German and Austrian radio stations such as WDR, NDR, SFB, HR, SR, SWF, SDR, BR, ORF + Radio Hilversum.

TV broadcasts for BR, SDR, SFB and ORF (Germany and Austria)

And not forgetting all his commercial studio recordings, his first in 1953 in Freiburg, while still a student – at the age of only 23 (Wunderlich: „Freiburg, the „decisive phase in my life“)

 

In his biography „Fritz Wunderlich“ the author, Werner Pfister, titled the penultimate chapter with „Wie eine Kerze, die an beiden Enden brennt,“ (Like a candle that burns at both ends“), which just reminded me of what Jeff Rense once commented so poignantly on Mario Lanza in the documentary, „Singing tot he Gods“ by Mark Kidel: „It sounds to me as if there were probably two or three people in one person in terms of …  passion and emotion that were assembled in that one human body. It was almost too much for one person.“

 

Incidentally, the Wunderlichs (his children) passed their family archive to Austria just recently, where it is sighted. Plans are to make it part of a museum which, I understand, yet is in the early planning stage and which is to present the great singers of the 20th century. A good thing and great idea on the one hand, yet, regarding Fritz Wunderlich in particular, a decision against the museum which is located in his hometown Kusel, Germany.


I hope you like the photo below. It shows the private Fritz Wunderlich with friends in 1956 (aged 26) at the swimming baths in Kusel. This photo was printed in "Die Rheinpfalz" daily newspaper (issue of 25 September 2020) last year on the occasion of Wunderlich's 90th birthday! 


Steff




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