Historic Wagner Voices

No.1 Friedrich Schorr  (1888 – 1953)

Born in Hungary, Schorr was the son of a Jewish cantor himself possessed of a fine voice but who tried to persuade his son to study law. Young Friedrich had his heart set on the stage, however, and after making his opera debut in Philadelphia in 1912 as the Second Monk in Wolf-Ferrari’s I gioielli della Madonna he returned to Graz and sang his first Wotan Die Walküre at the age of twenty-three. He was affectionately nicknamed the baby Wotan for several years afterwards – a response both to his age and his short stature. Schorr went on to sing major roles (including Mozart and Verdi) in Prague, Cologne and Berlin but it was for the Wagner repertoire that he was most in demand. He made his Covent Garden debut in 1924 in the Ring as Wotan/Wanderer and Gunther, conducted by Bruno Walter – in a season that, remarkably, also included house debuts by Frida Leider, Lotte Lehmann and Lauritz Melchior. He appeared at Covent Garden regularly through the next nine seasons, adding Wolfram, Holländer, King Marke and Sachs to his London repertoire – roles he was also singing to acclaim in Bayreuth, San Francisco and at the Metropolitan in New York. His work in Europe ceased with the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933 but by then Schorr had emigrated to New York, where he continued to sing at the Met until 1943 and to teach until his death, in Connecticut, in 1953.

Schorr insisted that Wagner should be sung in the style of Italian bel canto, with emphasis on vowel production and sustained legato in the vocal line. His recorded legacy is a testament to these principles, and yet his diction is always brilliantly clear and precise. He remains a towering figure in Wagnerian singing of the early 20th century. Enjoy this selection of his singing and the glory of a past era:

Hans Sachs:

Act 2 Was duftet doch der Flieder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4rj6nVhBQQ

Act 3 Wahn! Wahn! Überall, Wahn! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_iKQhE9hEM

Act 3 Verachtet mir die Meister nicht https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7BPB1nOLcQ

Wotan:

Das Rheingold Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ycYbY4UkzE

Die Walküre Act 3 Leb wohl du kühnes herrliches Kind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ycYbY4UkzE

Mendelssohn Elijah Herr Gott Abrahams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urDfw6uXxMQ

Mozart Don Giovanni Deh, vieni alla finestra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Jp5UGSVHY

Friedrich Schorr as Hans Sachs