19 May 2012

German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau dies

9:45 am on 19 May 2012

German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, once described as the most influential singer of the 20th century, has died aged 86.

Fischer-Dieskau was famed for his performances of Winter's Journey (Winterreise) by Schubert, the BBC reports.

He was best known for his interpretations of lieder - German art songs written for solo voice and piano.

Born in Berlin in May 1925, he emerged as a performer after World War II and was swiftly recognised as one of his generation's finest lyrical vocalists.

British composer Benjamin Britten personally asked him to sing in the first performance of his War Requiem in May 1962.

The premiere took place in the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed in a bombing raid in 1940.

"To my generation, he was something so special that one was always awestruck," the English mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker told BBC radio.

"One just bows before the artistry and the sheer beauty of the sound he made."

The singer, music teacher and playwright played a significant role in invigorating the Salzburg Festival before retiring in 1992.