The Times August 04, 2006
Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
December 9, 1915 – August 3, 2006
German soprano whose partnership with her record producer husband created an indelible impression on the world stage
RADIANT was an adjective applied frequently to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf by critics and others. It was used with justification. The word well described the famed and inimitable Schwarzkopf interpretations of certain heroines in Strauss operas, such as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and the Countess in Capriccio. It was altogether appropriate to her performance in lieder, with Wolf and Strauss (again) to the fore, to which she turned when she gave up the stage.
And it was quite right for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf herself, with her mane of hair acting almost like a halo, which remained golden well into old age. She was totally professional in all that she did, right through to her personal appearance. She used to tell the story of her arrival, with her mother, in gloomy, bomb-torn Vienna. They had little or no money, but her mother insisted that their meagre luggage contained one impressive and expensive-looking dress for auditions.
It was in Vienna that Schwarzkopf came to the ears of Walter Legge, the recording manager of EMI. They met in the Cafe Mozart in a Harry Lime world, went directly to the Musikverein, where Legge gave her an audition of an inordinate length, which even Herbert von Karajan, who was present, described as cruel. But that started a partnership — with quite substantial involvement from Karajan — on stage and on record which was to last almost 30 years.
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