Thursday, August 03, 2006

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: 1915-2006

There are names I do not want mentioned in my home. Do not say that name in my presence. I have seen what he has done, and it is criminal. As my husband used to say, so far no one has dared go into the Louvre Museum to spray graffiti on the Mona Lisa, but some opera directors are spraying graffiti over masterpieces.

Many composers today don't know what the human throat is. At Bloomington, Indiana, I was invited to listen to music written in quarter tones for four harps and voices. I had to go out to be sick.

It really is the end of an era, with the passing today of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Her aristocratic, intelligent (though some might say mannered) readings of the Marschallin and Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder earned her a place among the great sopranos - really, the great singers of any fach - of the Twentieth Century.

Her wit and talent, though somewhat blunted by age of late, stand in print and on records as the marks of a truly great artist. The likes of her do not come along but once in a great while.


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