Thomas Quasthoff
Thomas Quasthoff is a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass or low-lying "classical" baritone voice type which shares certain qualities with the true baritone voice. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: the Dutchman in Der fliegende...

. Although his reputation was initially based on his performance of Romantic
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 lieder, Quasthoff has proven to have a remarkable range from the Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

s of Bach
Bạch is a Vietnamese surname. The name is transliterated as Bai in Chinese and Baek, in Korean.Bach is the anglicized variation of the surname Bạch.-Notable people with the surname Bạch:* Bạch Liêu...

 to solo jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...



Quasthoff was born in Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, with serious birth defects caused by his mother's exposure during pregnancy to the drug thalidomide
Thalidomide was introduced as a sedative drug in the late 1950s that was typically used to cure morning sickness. In 1961, it was withdrawn due to teratogenicity and neuropathy. There is now a growing clinical interest in thalidomide, and it is introduced as an immunomodulatory agent used...

 which was prescribed as an antiemetic
An antiemetic is a drug that is effective against vomiting and nausea. Antiemetics are typically used to treat motion sickness and the side effects of opioid analgesics, general anaesthetics, and chemotherapy directed against cancer....

 to combat her morning sickness
Morning sickness
Morning sickness, also called nausea gravidarum, nausea, vomiting of pregnancy , or pregnancy sickness is a condition that affects more than half of all pregnant women. Related to increased oestrogen levels, a similar form of nausea is also seen in some women who use hormonal contraception or...

. Thomas Quasthoff is about four feet tall due to shortening of the long bones in his legs, and he has phocomelia
Phocomelia is an extremely rare congenital disorder involving the limbs . Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire coined the term in 1836....

 of the upper extremities with very short or absent long bones.

Quasthoff was denied admission to the music conservatory
Music school
The term music school refers to an educational institution specialized in the study, training and research of music.Different terms refer to this concept such as school of music, music academy, music faculty, college of music, music department or conservatory.Music instruction can be provided...

 in Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Germany, owing to his physical inability to play the piano, rather than a lack of skill required for entry to the conservatory. In the early stages of his education as a singer, Quasthoff was promoted by Sebastian Peschko
Sebastian Peschko
Sebastian Peschko was a German classical pianist specialised in the art form of lieder and as such was partner to some of the foremost lyrical singers of the 20th century....

. Thus, he chose to study voice privately. He also studied law for three years. Prior to his music career, he worked six years as a radio announcer for NDR
Norddeutscher Rundfunk
Norddeutscher Rundfunk is a public radio and television broadcaster, based in Hamburg. In addition to the city-state of Hamburg, NDR transmits for the German states of Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein...

. He also did voice-over work for television.

His music career was launched in 1988 when he won ARD International Music Competition
ARD International Music Competition
The ARD International Music Competition is the largest international classical music competition in Germany. It is held once a year in Munich.-History:...

 in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, earning praise from the baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is a retired German lyric baritone and conductor of classical music, one of the most famous lieder performers of the post-war period and "one of the supreme vocal artists of the 20th century"...

. In 1995, he made his American debut at the Oregon Bach Festival
Oregon Bach Festival
The Oregon Bach Festival is an annual celebration of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and his musical legacy, held in Eugene, Oregon, United States, in late June and early July. The artistic director is German organist and conductor Helmuth Rilling and the Executive Director is John Evans,...

 at the invitation of artistic director Helmuth Rilling
Helmuth Rilling
Helmuth Rilling is an internationally known German choral conductor, founder of the Gächinger Kantorei , the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart , the Oregon Bach Festival , the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart and other Bach Academies worldwide, and the "Festival Ensemble Stuttgart"...

; in 1998, he was one of the soloists for the Bach Festival's world-premiere of Krzyztof Penderecki's Credo, the recording of which won a Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 for best choral recording. In 2003, he made his staged operatic debut as Don Fernando in Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

's Fidelio
Fidelio is a German opera in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora...

at the Salzburg Festival
Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

. conducted by Simon Rattle. His San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony is an orchestra based in San Francisco, California. Since 1980, the orchestra has performed at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus are part of the organization...

 debut took place September 2004.

Thomas Quasthoff won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance
Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance
The Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo has been awarded since 1959. There have been several minor changes to the name of the award over this time:...

 in 2000. It was for his performance together with the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter of Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Des Knaben Wunderhorn is a collection of German folk poems edited by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, and published in Heidelberg, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, between 1805 and 1808...

. They were accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado
Claudio Abbado
Claudio Abbado, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI , is an Italian conductor. He has served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera,...

. He won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for the second time in 2004. It was for Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

: Lieder with Orchestra
which Quasthoff performed with von Otter and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe conducted by Abbado. Quasthoff won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for the third time in 2006 with Rainer Kussmaul leading members of the RIAS Chamber Choir of Berlin Baroque Soloists in their recording of J. S. Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

: Cantatas

Additionally, Quasthoff's recordings of the songs of Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 and Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

 accompanied by pianist Justus Zeyen were nominated for the Grammy in 2000 and 2001. Thomas Quasthoff records for Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon is a German classical record label which was the foundation of the future corporation to be known as PolyGram. It is now part of Universal Music Group since its acquisition and absorption of PolyGram in 1999, and it is also UMG's oldest active label...


Quasthoff is a full-time voice professor and performs only about 50 times a year. He is currently a professor at the Hanns Eisler School of Music
Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler
The " in Berlin, Germany is one of the leading music conservatories in Europe. It was established in East Berlin in 1950 as the ' because the older was in West Berlin...

 in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

; he previously taught at the music academy of Detmold
Detmold is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with a population of about 74,000. It was the capital of the small Principality of Lippe from 1468 until 1918 and then of the Free State of Lippe until 1947...

, Germany.

For the 2006-2007 concert season, Quasthoff was one of Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

's "Perspectives" artists. However, illness forced him to cancel his first two appearances in that capacity.

In 2006 he recorded his first jazz album, The Jazz Album: Watch What Happens, with Till Brönner
Till Brönner
Till Brönner is a German jazz musician, trumpet player, singer, composer, arranger and producer. He has a unique jazz approach influenced by bebop and fusion jazz, but also modern pop music, movie soundtracks , country music and even German pop songs...

, Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent, MNZM , is a jazz pianist, arranger and composer best known for his work with artists such as Woody Herman, Diane Schuur, Chet Baker, Irene Kral, Sheila Jordan, Charlie Haden, Warne Marsh, Bud Shank, and many others.Broadbent studied piano and music theory in his own country, but in...

, Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine is an American jazz drummer and composer. He has enjoyed a long and successful career as a session drummer, recording and touring with many famous jazz and rock artists, including Steely Dan and Weather Report...

, Dieter Ilg and Chuck Loeb
Chuck Loeb
Chuck Loeb is a guitarist who performs numerous styles of music, most notably jazz. Loeb's own solo projects have generally been commercially successful crossover jazz, which has "contemporary" or "smooth" jazz....

. In the same year he married Claudia Schtelsick, a German TV journalist.

In 2008, he was a soloist on the Grammy-winning recording of Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem (Simon Rattle, conductor; Simon Halsey, chorus master) on EMI Classics.

As "artist in residence" at the Barbican Hall, London, Quasthoff invited some of his favourite fellow artists in a series under the title "Die Stimme" - The Voice (also the name of his autobiography) which marks his 50th birthday year. He was the "Desert Island Discs
Desert Island Discs
Desert Island Discs is a BBC Radio 4 programme first broadcast on 29 January 1942. It is the second longest-running radio programme , and is the longest-running factual programme in the history of radio...

" guest (BBC Radio 4) on 1 February 2009 (repeated 6 February 2009).

In 2009, Quasthoff was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize
Herbert von Karajan Music Prize
The Herbert von Karajan Music Prize, in German "Herbert von Karajan Musikpreis", is an annual award presented by the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in honour of the celebrated 20th century Austrian conductor, Herbert von Karajan...


According to an interview given in 2003, Quasthoff revealed that he is active in political thinking, is a socialist, and opposed the Iraq War and the actions taken by Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in regards to the building of the Israeli West Bank barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...


External links

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