I have been so busy with personal housekeeping and moving around Sydney that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's death a number of days ago went unnoticed by my eyes. I am sure many music colleagues updated their Facebook status with RIPs. How I missed even that, I am not sure.
As a voice student at university, I spent many hours listening to Fischer-Dieskau's intoxicatingly sublime baritone voice while studying vocal literature and German diction. The impact of his recordings of lieder by Schubert and other composers was (and still is) undeniably huge on the education of young singers.
Years later, as a professional singer, I returned to the recordings of Fischer-Dieskau again and again as a reference point for my own interpretations of German art song. These days, I listen to him for pleasure, but while doing so, I cannot help but continue to pay close attention to the manner in which he takes a texted melody (of any era or language, for that matter) and shapes it lovingly and artfully into something so personal that one is almost embarrassed at times to be privy to the performance.
This is a big loss for the music world, but the many recordings he made during the latter half of the 20th century remain as a testament to the astonishing mark he made in the area of classical music.
Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel (piano)
Der Leiermann by Franz Schubert
Fischer-Dieskau and Wolfgang Sawallisch (piano)
Mondnacht by Robert Schumann
Fischer-Dieskau and Hartmut Höll (piano)
L'heure exquise by Reynaldo Hahn