Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Elisabeth Grummer (1911-1986) Sings Mozart and Weber

This Saturday (March 31) will be the birthday of the wonderful soprano Elisabeth Grummer. Born to German parents in Niederjeutz near the Alsace-Lorraine region that is now part of France, her family was forced to move to Germany and settle in Meiningen, where she studied acting and made her acting debut. She married violinist Detlev Grummer and settled in Aachen, where they met Herbert von Karajan, who encouraged her to study voice. She made her operatic debut as a Flowermaiden in Parsifal. Her husband was killed in a bombing during the war. She spoke candidly and movingly of those traumatic early years to Lanfranco Rasponi, the author of The Last Prima Donnas, an extraordinary book that came out in 1982 and is about many famous female opera singer. Her career blossomed in the 50s and became a superb interpreter of Mozart and Wagner. Many of her complete roles are available on recordings. Known for a voice of purity and beauty and perfect breath control, Grummer's recordings of Agathe, Pamina, and Elsa remain the very best in the discography. To remember this great singer, here are two excerpts: first is her breathtakingly beautiful Abendempfindung by Mozart, followed by Agathe's Und ob die Wolke from Der Freischutz. Where do you find such purity of tone and rock-solid legato today?

- Joseph K. So

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