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March, 2004 - Nr. 3


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German baritone wins Grammy

  TWIG - Along with Swedish mezzo soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, German baritone Thomas Quasthoff took home the Grammy for best classical vocal performance for the CD "Schubert: Lieder with Orchestra."

It is the second Grammy for Quasthoff, who has overcome severe disabilities to rise to the top of the music world. The baritone first won in 1999 for his interpretation of Gustav Mahler’s "Wunderhorn-Lieder."

In Europe, Quasthoff is a regular soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden.

Since 1995, he has been performing regularly in the United States, participating in America’s venerable classical music showcases, including the Tanglewood, Rainia, and Mostly Mozart festivals. In October 2001, his solo performance with the Berliner Philharmoniker under then-director Claudio Abbado opened the season at Carnegie Hall.

Quasthoff is known for the smooth resonance of his powerful baritone voice. But he is also recognized as a pioneer who has broken down barriers for disabled musicians worldwide. Quasthoff is a victim of thalidomide, a drug introduced to pregnant West Germans in the 1950’s to ease morning sickness, but which caused serious birth defects and deaths before being taken off the market.

He made history in March 2002 by proving that physical stature is no determinant of a singer’s capacity to play a stage role, making his operatic debut as Don Fernando in Mozart’s "Fidelio" as part of Salzburg’s Easter Festival. The performance was telecasted throughout Europe a year later.

Since breaking into opera, there seems to be no end to the invitations from the world’s most renowned concert stages. In Vienna in January, he debuted as Amfortas in Wagner’s "Parzifal" with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and his recent performance in New York garnered a stellar review in the New York Times. His next American appearance is in November, where he will sing Mahler’s "Kindertotenlieder" in Los Angeles.

In addition to his many major international engagements, Quasthoff has been a music professor at the Music Academy of Detmold since 1996.

Quasthoff was not the only German nominated for the Grammy this year. Director Wolfgang Sawallisch was honored with a nomination for his work with the Philadelphia Orchestra, but lost to the album "Obrigado Brazil," featuring Yo-Yo Ma.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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