Peter Schreier died on Christmas Day

German media have awoken to the death in Dresden of a great tenor, who became an equally reliable conductor. Schreier, who was 84, made his name in the former East Germany and was its most exportable talent. He sang for 25 consecutive seasons at the Salzburg Festival and appeared at many of the major opera houses in roles that ranged from Mozart to Wagner and beynd to his favourite, Pfitzner’s Palestrina.

He made multiple recordings.

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  • Wonderful Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and a brilliant Charaktertenor. I can only mention his two great Wagnerian roles, namely, Mime and David. Probably the greatest Charaktertenor of all time after Gerhard Stolze, but that’s just my view of it.

    • I don’t believe that he ever sang Mime on stage – only in recordings I believe that the only Wagner parts that he did on stage during his mature years were David and Loge – although I know that he was offered the role of Mime in the MET Schenk Ring – but at the last moment declined.

      • Yes, be kind! They were both equally good in their individual ways, and one was not better than the other. And they don’t make either of them like that anymore.

      • Randy is a bit right. Stolze was originally a trained straight actor, and he emphisized the words a bit more than the notes.
        If one follows his (great) interpretations of Mime, Herodes and Aeghist, he doesn’t exactly sing accurately what is written.
        Schreier, on the other hand brough his Liedkunst and natural dramaticism to all his roles, both the lyrical Mozart roles and the so called Spieltenorfach (although Meistersinger-David is by far a Spieltenor).

  • He was East Germany’s most exportable talent… together with Theo Adam, and Gisela May! He was one side of a formidable triangle, and the last to go. Rest in Peace!

    • There was the usual carping amongst Western so called “reviewers” which I heard frequently on BBC Radio concerning Adam’s “wobble” and Schreier’s “nasal” voice – my God compared to the singing of current BBC favourites like Bostridge and Roderick Williams…! The EU and Western Europe was favoured by Eurodisc/BMG/RCA distribution so the very high quality recordings from East Germany were well known unlike in Britain. Same with Supraphon and Hungaroton.

    • I heard him on stage in that role, together with Kurt Moll. It was beyond amazing, and still, 35 years later, a lasting memory. I also heard him in Winterreise, and as evangelist in both the Johannes- and Matthäus-Passion. My favorite lyrical tenor of all times. And when Bach wrote for the evangelist, he *must* have had Peter Schreier in mind…

  • Perfect Mime together with Kollo as Siegfried.

    And also great in “Lied von der Erde” with Inbal.

    A very characteristic voice that will be remembered.

  • one of the greatest singers of all time, maybe – after Fritz Wunderlich – the greates german lyric tenor. and he was an especially gentle and cultured man.

    • Many years ago he attempted Britten’s Serenade (Tenor and Horn). It was a disaster – he couldn’t pronounce the English poetry and it sounded horrible. Doing Bach with the Israel PO was beautiful.

  • Across sacred music, particularly Bach but also an astounding aria in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle with Wolfgang Sawallisch, key appearences in Wagner (eg Der junge Steuermann in the acclaimed live 1961 Bayreuth record of Tristan with Karl Bohm) and a wealth of German Lieder albums on the East German Eterna label (now Berlin Classics and Edel) licensed across Europe by RCA Eurodisc BMG but rather limited in Britain. I think you could spend your whole life discovering and appreciating Peter Schreier ‘s recorded legacy. His quizzical crystal clear interpretation of the tragi-comical tenor role in Mahler’s Das Lied with Inbal on Denon. The way he could nail a top note! RIP

  • His recording, with Felicity Lott and Graham Johnson, of the Wolf Italian Songbook is to me less dramatic but more sensitive and affecting than the Schwarzkopf and DFD one. They sing in the original keys, and the tone is full of light.

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