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Fritz Wunderlich


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Fritz Wunderlich (September 26, 1930 - September 17, 1966) was a German tenor, born in Kusel, Rhineland-Palatinate. His mother was a violinist and his father, who died when Fritz was only five years old, had been a choir-master. The family lived with difficulties, and the story goes that as a young man Fritz Wunderlich worked in a bakery, starting his singing studies at the insistence of neighbours and passers-by who witnessed his natural musical gifts and beautiful voice. In any case he managed to obtain a scholarship in order to pursue his studies at the Freiburg College of Music where he studied French horn and voice.

As he started his career, Fritz Wunderlich became noted as a brilliant young tenor, making a mark in Mozartian roles, but soon expanding his reach to the full range of the lyric tenor repertoire. His crystal-clear voice and intelligent, restrained interpretation also led him to impressive renditions of the Lieder cycles of Schubert and Schumann; of special note are his collaborations with pianist Hubert Giesen.

As it was the fashion during Wunderlich’s career for German theaters to perform operas in the vernacular of the people (rather than original language), most of his recordings of the standard operatic repertoire are in German, including Verdi’s Rigoletto and Don Carlo.

Wunderlich’s promising career was cut short by an accident: he fell from a stairway in a friend’s country house in Oberderdingen near Maulbronn, and died in the University Clinic of Heidelberg just days before his 36th birthday. He is buried in Munich’s Waldfriedhof cemetery.


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