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Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (1915 - 2006)

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was born at Jarotschin, near Poznan, on 9 December 1915. Her teachers in Berlin included the Lieder singer Lula Mysz-Gmeiner, the coloratura soprano Maria Ivogun and the latter’s husband, the pianist Michael Raucheisen. This training predisposed Schwarzkopf towards the kind of career she later followed, alternating opera with concert and recital work. Having made her début in 1938 as a flower maiden in Parsifal at the Berlin Municipal Opera, she progressed to being a member of the Vienna State Opera from 1944, first coming to Britain in 1947 with that company. Thereafter she was one of the best-known singers in the world, and marriage to Walter Legge led to his using her in myriad recording projects, both suitable (Mozart, Strauss) and unsuitable (two versions of the Verdi Requiem). She also recorded many Lieder. Few singers have so violently polarised opinion but, love her or hate her, she has always been a class act. She died at her home in Schruns on the Austrian-Swiss border on 3 August 2006, age 90.


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