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Uploaded on Jul 31, 2011
The great German soprano Elisabeth Grümmer (1911-1986) in Agathe's solo scene, "Wie nahte mir der Schlummer...Leise, leise" from Act 2 of Weber's Der Freischütz, coming from a radio broadcast recording made in 1955, with the Kölner Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester, conducted by Erich Kleiber.
The late opera critic John B. Steane concludes his chapter on Grümmer in his book "Singers of the Century" most touchingly. Her husband; "her one love," was a violinist & "it was the sound of his violin, the daily practice of the legato, cantabile style, that most influenced her concept of the singer's art. It's said she never fully & inwardly recovered from his death in an air raid during WWII, and when she returned to singing after the war, it was perhaps more than anything else to preserve the memory & perpetuate the sound of that violin."
The following biographical profile of Grümmer comes from Cantabile-subito (www.cantabile-subito.de): "She was born in Lorraine (Niederjeutz, later Yutz-Basse) as the child of German parents. In 1918 the family was evicted from Lorraine and moved to the theatre town of Meiningen. She attended the drama school and appeared in the school's scenic performances in classical roles like Klärchen in Goethe's Egmont. All her artistic goals seemed to come to an end when she married the violinist Detlev Grümmer (a concert-master at the Landestheater Meiningen) and eventually became a mother. When her husband obtained an engagement at the Stadttheater in Aachen, this represented an important change of centre for the family. The young Herbert von Karajan was General Music Director of this opera house and she was very much impressed by him. She decided to take singing lessons, among others with the renowned vocal coach Franziska Martienssen-Lohmann. Karajan was interested in working with her right from the beginning. He gave her the chance to appear in a Parsifal performance in 1941 as the First Flower maiden. She was engaged to Duisburg and then eventally to Prague. Her husband died tragically at a bombing attack. After war she became a regular member of the Städtische Oper Berlin. Berlin always remained the centre of her activities. She sang with greatest success in all the world's leading operahouses, at Covent Garden, the Grand Opéra, La Scala, the Met, the Teatro Colón, and the State Operas of Munich, Vienna and Hamburg. Between 1957 and 1961 she was to be heard at the Bayreuth Festival each year. She restricted herself to a rather small repertoire she made very much her own: Pamina, Donna Anna, Ilia, the Countess Almaviva, Agathe, Hänsel, Oktavian, the Marschallin, Countess Madeleine, Eva, Elsa, Elisabeth, Gutrune, Freia and Desdemona. She made it her practise to sing everything in her own language. Her art is unforgettable on the concert platform. Her song recitals were always great artistic events as her performances of Bach's Passions and her unsurpassed Ihr habt nur Traurigkeit in Brahms' German Requiem. In 1965 Elisabeth Grümmer became professor at the Berlin Musikhochschule. In 1986 she was nominated an honorary member of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. She died the same year in Warendorf (Westphalia)."