Sunday, 20 May 2012

RIP Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau


I was 16 when I discovered Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He opened new worlds for me, unimagined worlds of great lyrical beauty and depth of feeling. One of my earliest LPs was of him singing Schumann's Dichterliebe, The Poet's Love. The sublime ritual, drawing the shiny vinyl from its white and yellow Deutsche Gramophon Gesellschaft (an incantation in itself) cover, placing the record with reverent fingers over the central pin of the turntable, gently lowering the pick-up arm, the slight swish of the stylus in the leading grooves, and then this new universe of feeling, of longing, sadness, regret, joy, love, bitterness, anger, exaltation, hope, despair - all the daily emotional fare of a passionate 16-year-old.

He led me from Schumann to Schubert, and then, later, to Brahms, Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss. A matchless voice, masterly technique, a very great musician. Here he is with Schubert's An die Musik, To Music. It's a hymn to his own art. I can't hear it without feeling the starting tear.




And here he is in Schubert's Der Musensohn, The Son of the Muses, with words by Goethe. After singing of the onrush of his never-ending music-making and the expectations people have of him, in the last line he sings 'You beloved, noble Muses, when will I finally come to rest on your bosom?' I feel like that sometimes.



Someone on a French comment thread has said Je suis jaloux des anges, I'm envious of the angels. Exactly.

13 comments:

Mike and Ann said...

Thank you Christopher. That was lovely.
It reminded me of an incident some years ago, when we were staying with friends of ours in Detmold in Germany. Our host invited me to go along with him to choir practice that evening. He introduced me to the conductor, an elderly German, who handed me a sheet of music and said "You vill sing." It just might have been a question, but it sounded as if the next remark might well be "Ve haf vays of making you sing".
I sung.

Mike and Ann said...

Thank you Christopher. Enjoyed that. It reminded me of an incident some years ago, when we were staying with friends of ours in Detmold in Germany. Our host invited me to go with him to choir practice that evening. He introduced me to the Choirmaster, an elderly German, who handed me a sheet of music and said "You vill sing". It just might have been a question, but it sounded as if the next remark might well be "Ve haf vays of making you sing".
I sung.

Z said...

When I switched on the radio and heard that wonderful voice, I knew he had died and was so sad. It's a loss, a little bit of vibrant life vanished and I feel diminished by it.

Broadband too slow to load your pieces at present, but I'll persevere. Thank you.

Mike and Ann said...

Sorry Chris. Don't quite know how I did that. I lost the first comment, so did a second one as near as I could remember, then found you'd got both. Suggest you delete one of them.
And Z reminds me, I should have said how much of a loss that singer is. Just been reading about him in The Telegraph Obituary column.

Tim said...

Yes, there is a pure sanctity there - don't know if that makes sense or not. But we shouldn't be sad.
And your description of the hiss of the needle on one's first record nearly made me cry too.

Tim said...

Ignore this comment!

Vicus Scurra said...

I am almost tempted to die, to see whether you can rise to the challenge of finding something poetic to say about me.

mig bardsley said...

I didn't know angels rested on the bosom of (how many?) muses.
I loved the music though.

Hector said...

Re Vicus Scurra's comment above - I note from his post to Christopher's previous Blog that he finds "the bagpipes never sound good, in or out of tune, and all Scots are in on this. Bagpipes are only played to torment tourists, aren't they?".

Now I see he is talking of the possibility of his demise: "I am almost tempted to die, to see whether you can rise to the challenge of finding something poetic to say about me."

Afraid, in this instance poetry escapes me, but, if the temptation proves too strong, we of a Scottish persuasion will arrange for him to pass to a Better Place* to the accompaniment of the Massed Pipe Bands of all the Scottish regiments.

*Better Place - in VS's case, incarceration for all time in the Glasgow School of Piping

Vicus Scurra said...

They teach that stuff? Wow! I can get the same effects by slowly steamrollering a cat.

Christopher said...

M 'n' A: Ve too haf vays of making you ze comments write...

Z: He was one of those remarkable people who maintained a more or presence to a greater or lesser degree in your youth and later, and then, when they die, you're surprised to find that they're (or were until a little while ago) still alive.

Is Russ Conway still with us? Jonathan Routh? Alma Cogan? I'm not suggesting, of course, that any of these influenced the path I subsequently took, just that they fell so easily into into that cloud of obscurity that Vicus seems to be evoking.

Tim: What did you say?

Mig: 9 Muses, after that I'm stuck. 1 corporate bosom, or 18 bosoms? Fischer-Dieskau was quite a large man. But in any case I'm assuming he's now in the Bosom of Abraham...

Vicus: No, no, no, please. I've already penned a few words just in case. I'm afraid they belie your nom de plume.

Hector: You may have stirred up a hornet's nest...

Hector said...

" You may have stirred up a hornet's nest..."
European or Asiatic, Chris?

In reply to Vicus Scurra - I got the same effect without having to steamroller a cat - I just used its guts on my violin. Strange that I never had an audience....

Christopher said...

Hector: From the evidence of your avatar, you seem to be better placed to judge their origin than I am. Savlon or other ointment may give some relief, but I should hesitate before asking Vicus to apply it.