My post last year shows that I could not be surprised to learn that Fischer-Dieskau died on May 18. It will take me weeks to play through even half of the recordings that I own. I hope he did realize how many of my generation owed half of their musical education to him. For example, would I have known to obtain, one by one, the whole Graham Johnson Hyperion Schubert had I not already known at least half of the songs and by that time collected Hans Hotter and Heinrich Schlussnuss and Elizabeth Schummann and many other singers, too? It is impossible to list them all. All the pianists, too; not only Gerald Moore. Not every adept pianist is a great accompanist, with half of the composer's work in his hands. It is not merely keeping up with the Erlkönig! The Brahms and Wolf songs (as Daniel Barenboim observed of the latter, which he recorded with F-D) demand great musicianship.
I must henceforward respect Thomas Hampson even more highly for what he wrote yesterday on Fischer-Dieskau. I almost always agree with Barenboim, anyway.
As usual, the Guardian has the best assessments (in my opinion).
But, I had to write to a friend, his death is like a colophon to a half century, to the decades in which I could feel that I was still growing. And, like Fischer-Dieskau, I am keenly aware of cultural change. I must tell myself every day that my loss of élan vital does not mean that civilization is moribund.
I have never read his memoir. Now I shall. I shy away from reading memoirs and biographies of the living.