Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (28th May 1925 - 18th May 2012) was a German lyric baritone and conductor of classical music, one of the most famous Lieder performers of the post-war period, described as 'one of the supreme vocal artists of the 20th century' and 'the most influential singer of the 20th Century'. Fischer-Dieskau was ranked the second greatest singer of the century (after Jussi Björling) by Classic CD (United Kingdom) 'Top Singers of the Century' Critics' Poll (June 1999).
The French dubbed him 'Le miracle Fischer-Dieskau' and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf called him 'a born god who has it all.' At his peak, he was greatly admired for his interpretive insights and exceptional control of his beautiful voice. Fischer-Dieskau also performed and recorded a great many operatic roles. He was the most recorded singer of all time. He dominated both the opera and concert platform for over thirty years.
Recording an astonishing array of repertoire (spanning centuries) as musicologist Alan Blyth asserted, 'No singer in our time, or probably any other has managed the range and versatility of repertory achieved by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Opera, Lieder and oratorio in German, Italian or English came alike to him, yet he brought to each a precision and individuality that bespoke his perceptive insights into the idiom at hand.' In addition, he recorded in French, Russian, Hebrew and Hungarian.
Although his vocal technique was highly accomplished, Fischer-Dieskau's voice was rather light, a lyric-chamber baritone with less-than-overwhelming power. Despite this, he performed and recorded many heavy heroic baritone and bass-baritone operatic roles such as Wotan, Hans Sachs, Amfortas, Telramund, Iago, Macbeth, Scarpia, and Jokanaan.
He was most admired, though, as a singer of Schubert Lieder, particularly the cycle Winterreise. His recordings of Winterreise with accompanist Gerald Moore and Jörg Demus are still critically acclaimed half a century after their release.