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Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925 - 2012)


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s parents stood squarely in the German professional middle class, whose values permeated the lives of the family members: his father, a classical scholar, was the principal of a secondary school and his mother was a teacher. His grandmother on his father’s side was a member of the von Dieskau family, for one of whom J.S. Bach had written his Peasant Cantata of 1742. Initially Fischer-Dieskau studied piano, both with his mother and while at school; but having also sung as a child, at sixteen he commenced formal vocal study in Berlin with Professor Georg Walter.

In 1943, after completing one semester at the Berlin Conservatory, Fischer-Dieskau joined the Wehrmacht; but after capture by the Allies in Italy spent two years as an American prisoner of war, during which he would often sing to his fellow prisoners. He returned to Berlin in 1947, studied briefly with Professor Hermann Weissenborn at the Conservatory, and soon was singing professionally. As he has commented about this period, ‘I passed my final exam in the concert hall.’

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