Singing on Singing: Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
100 years and 1 day to the day that the legendary soprano Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was born, exclusively for the Hampsong Foundation, Thomas Hampson and Jon Tolansky recorded this centenary tribute to her that has a truly unique value for several reasons.
Firstly, Thomas Hampson knew Elisabeth Schwarzkopf personally and she was something of a mentor to him in his young studying years, so he is very specially placed to give an assessment of Schwarzkopf’s art, its value for posterity, and the artist’s approach to her singing.
Secondly, thanks to the generous agreement of the WFMT Radio Network, we are able to include some clips from an historic interview Elisabeth Schwarzkopf gave to Studs Terkel in 1960. It has been preserved in the WFMT Studs Terkel Radio Archive, a treasure trove of over 9,000 hours of pioneering interviews recorded over a 45 year period.
And thirdly, through an exclusive partnership between the Hampsong Foundation and Warner Classics, for this website feature we can include extracts from Warner Classics’ catalogue of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s recordings and especially the newly released and newly mastered de luxe Schwarzkopf Centenary 31 CD box set entitled Elisabeth Schwarzkopf – The Complete Recitals, 1952-1974 (WARNER CLASSICS 5099991845924). This set contains new CD masters of all Schwarzkopf’s recital LPs that were meticulously designed and put together by her and her husband, the celebrated EMI recording producer Walter Legge, from 1952 and 1974. They are specifically mastered in a format that preserves the exact planning and polishing of the original LP programmes they chose: so, the lay-out of the CDs replicates the complete and integrated musical sequences that they devised for each particular original LP release, with each CD disc exactly mirroring the content and sequence of a particular recital as it had first appeared on LP. This is an important point because the Schwarzkopf recorded legacy is one of the great monuments of recording history, and appreciating the way it was conceived and designed over the years is a vital element in our understanding of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and her artistic relationship to her husband. That is one of the issues Thomas Hampson discusses in this 90 minute feature, in which he also relates his personal recollections of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and her master-classes, and gives his observations on Schwarzkopf’s performances in the included recordings.
Listen to the documentary immediately below (length: 1 hour, 30 min.)
With special guest:
Musical excerpts included in this feature:
- “Waldseligkeit” (Richard Strauss/Richard Dehmel, from the album Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: The Complete Recitals 1952-1974), with conductor George Szell and Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
- “Das Veilchen” (Mozart/Goethe, from the album Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: The Complete Recitals 1952-1974), with pianist Walter Gieseking
- “In quali eccessi……Mi tradi quell’ alma ingrate” from Don Giovanni (Mozart/da Ponte, from the album Icon: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, The Perfect Prima Donna), with conductor Josef Krips and the Philharmonia Orchestra
- “In quali eccessi……Mi tradi quell’ alma ingrate” from Don Giovanni (Mozart/da Ponte, from the album Don Giovanni), with conductor Carlo Maria Giulini and the Philharmonia Orchestra
- “Es hat dem Grafen nichts genütz……Grüss dich Gott, du liebes Nesterl” from Wiener Blut (Johann Strauss/arr. Adolf Müller Junior/libretto by Victor Leon and Leo Stein, from the album Legenden der Operette), with conductor Otto Ackermann and the Philharmonia Orchestra
- “Mignon 1 (Heiss mich nicht reden)” (Wolf/Goethe, from the album Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: The Complete Recitals 1952-1974), with pianist Gerald Moore
- “Das war sehr gut, Mandryka” from Arabella (Richard Strauss/Hugo von Hofmansthal, from the album Icon: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, The Perfect Prima Donna), with baritone Josef Metternich, conductor Lovro von Matacic, and the Philharmonia Orchestra