Walter Berry

Biography

Born: April 8, 1929   Died: October 20, 2000   Country: Austria  
Bass Walter Berry grew, by measured and steady advancement, into one of the leading artists of his time. Beginning at the Vienna Staatsoper at the early age of 21, he progressed through the major Mozart baritone and bass roles to such weightier challenges as Beethoven's Pizarro and Wagner's Kurwenal, Telramund, and even Wotan. He was able to transmute the sunny, rounded, very Viennese sound of his wide-ranging instrument into something more Read more potent, more incisive for his Wagner roles and he became one of the most celebrated Wozzecks of his day. His musicianship and sturdy voice made him a welcome guest at many of the world's leading opera venues and he was regarded as an affecting recitalist as well.

Originally intending to pursue a career in engineering, Berry switched to vocal study and trained with Hermann Gallos at the Vienna Musical Academy. He made his debut as a soloist in Honegger's Jeanne-d'Arc and soon thereafter joined the Staatsoper. As early as 1953, he was singing Masetto at Salzburg, the first of an outstanding gallery of Mozart characterizations. At the festival, he also participated in the premieres of Gottfried von Einem's Prozess (1953), Rolf Leibermann's Penelope (1954), and Werner Egk's Irische Legende (1954).

America heard Berry for the first time when he presented his genial Mozart Figaro at Chicago's Lyric Opera in 1957. Three years later, he returned to Chicago as part of a more stellar cast (Schwarzkopf, Streich, his then-wife Christa Ludwig, and Eberhard Wächter) to offer a Figaro unchallenged by any other than Cesare Siepi's. Berry subsequently sang Leporello, Don Alfonso, Fernando (Fidelio), and Baron Ochs in Chicago.

On October 2, 1966, Berry made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in a production of Strauss' Die Frau Ohne Schatten conducted by Karl Böhm. Together with James King's Emperor, Leonie Rysanek's Empress and Christa Ludwig's Dyer's Wife, Berry's Barak was hailed as a magnificent accomplishment and an immense popular success. A live recording with that same quartet of principals, captured in Salzburg in 1974, reveals each singer performing at such a pitch of vocal and interpretive splendor as to have made the collaboration legendary. Although his marriage to Ludwig had ended in 1971, Berry was still the partner of choice for the mezzo-soprano's intense and soaring Dyer's Wife. Berry made his Covent Garden debut as Barak in 1976 and sang the role in San Francisco that same year.

Berry's increasingly powerful voice tended toward the lower end of bass-baritone spectrum and his Baron Ochs managed the bottommost notes with authority. His recording with Bernstein is both substantially sung and interpreted with Viennese lightness. Berry had accumulated an extensive discography by the time of his death, remaining in good voice until the very end of his life (he participated in a Renée Fleming Strauss recital shortly before his death). His hearty and endearing Papageno was recorded twice. His Pizarro in the 1961 Klemperer recording of Fidelio, despite the conductor's slow pacing, served notice that his was an art destined for more than Mozart. His singing of the bass arias in Klemperer's recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is fluent and deeply felt, notwithstanding, once again, some glacial tempi.

Though never quite viewed as a star personality, Berry crafted his own unique spot among the great singers who reigned in the twentieth century's second half. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 114 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Deluxe Operas - Five Legendary Opera Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 546617 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Xavier Depraz,  Michel Hamel,  Ernest Blanc,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Otto Klemperer,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Georges Prętre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 2.
    Philharmonia Orchestra: Birth of a Legend
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 534951 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert,  Ottorino Respighi,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Agnes Giebel,  Christa Ludwig,  Walter Berry,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Guido Cantelli,  Arturo Toscanini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    On sale! $79.98
    CD: $77.49
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  • 3.
    Beethoven: The Complete Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 539882 Release Date: 12/13/2019   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Birgit Remmert,  Rudolf Schasching,  Robert Holl,  Peter Richards  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Bernard Haitink,  Daniel Barenboim,  Otto Klemperer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Staatskapelle Dresden  ... 
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  • 4.
    Schumann: Spanisches Liederspiel - Brahms: Liebeslieder-Walzer / Mathis, Schreier, Berry, Werba
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 953181 Release Date: 10/19/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Erik Werba,  Edith Mathis,  Peter Schreier  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 5.
    Birgit Nilsson: The Great Live Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985392322 Release Date: 09/07/2018   Number of Discs: 31
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Richard Wagner,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Bernhard Sönnerstedt,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Theo Adam  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Eugen Jochum,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Hans Knappertsbusch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 6.
    Leonard Bernstein - The Pianist
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 548379 Release Date: 06/08/2018   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  George Gershwin,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Walter Berry,  Christa Ludwig,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Schwarzkopf, Berry, Furtwangler, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 570764 Release Date: 05/04/2018   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Deszö Ernster,  Walter Berry,  Erna Berger,  Anton Dermota  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 8.
    Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro / Bohm, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5147 Release Date: 04/06/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  William Wernigk,  Murray Dickie,  Rosette Anday,  Sena Jurinac  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 9.
    Christa Ludwig: The Complete Recitals on Warner Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 567458 Release Date: 03/23/2018   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Gustav Mahler,  Robert Schumann,  Max Reger  ... 
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  Gerald Moore,  Geoffrey Parsons,  Gervase de Peyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer,  Horst Stein,  Karl Forster,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    On sale! $39.98
    CD: $35.99
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  • 10.
    DG 111: The Conductors / Various
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797477 Release Date: 08/04/2017   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gaston Litaize,  Alain Moglia,  Luben Yordanoff,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Leonard Bernstein,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $171.49
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  • 11.
    Karajan Sacred & Choral Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797060 Release Date: 03/10/2017   Number of Discs: 29
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Anton Dermota,  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Wolfgang Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Domenico Bartolucci
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $97.99
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  • 12.
    Bach: Matthaeus Passion - Bruckner: Te Deum / Jochum, Bavarian Radio Symphony
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 320 Release Date: 01/27/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anton Bruckner
    Performer:  Leo Ketelaars,  Franz Crass,  John van Kesteren,  Agnes Giebel  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Chorus,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam,  Boys' Choir Of St. Willibrordskerk Amsterdam  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 13.
    The Inaugural Season: Extraordinary Met Performances from 1966-67
    Label: Metropolitan Opera   Catalog: 70182 Release Date: 12/16/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Strauss,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Jess Thomas,  Leontyne Price,  Justino Diaz,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Zubin Mehta,  Karl Böhm,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    On sale! $135.98
    CD: $132.99
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  • 14.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Klemperer, Gedda, Schwarzkopf, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 557671 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Gottlob Frick,  Franz Crass,  Gerhard Unger,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $29.99
    CD: $24.99
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  • 15.
    The Originals, Vol. 2
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002534902 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Nathan Milstein,  Géza Anda,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Eugen Jochum,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $174.99
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  • 16.
    Beethoven: The 9 Symphonies (1963 Recording) / Karjan, Berlin Philharmonic [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002506446 Release Date: 07/01/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Waldemar Kmentt,  Walter Berry
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
    Blu-ray Audio: $39.99
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  • 17.
    Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro / Kertesz
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1282 Release Date: 04/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Susana Rouco,  Luisa Bartoletti,  Carlos Feller,  Renato Cesari  ... 
    Conductor:  István Kertész
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buenos Aires Teatro Colón Chorus,  Buenos Aires Teatro Colón Orchestra
    On sale! $25.98
    CD: $22.99
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  • 18.
    Bartok: Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459502 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Erich Binder,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Viktoria Mullova,  Gil Shaham  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Lehel,  Iván Fischer,  Antal Doráti,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $260.49
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  • 19.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Ludwig, Vickers, Frick, Berry, Klemperer, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554002 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Gottlob Frick,  Ingeborg Hallstein,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 20.
    Mozart: Cosi fan Tutte / Bohm, Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, Kraus, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554003 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Hannelore Steffek,  Walter Berry,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 21.
    Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Dernesch, Vickers, Ludwig, Schreier, Karajan, Berlin Philarmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554010 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Martin Vantin,  Christa Ludwig,  Helga Dernesch,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $24.98
    CD: $22.99
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  • 22.
    Bach: Saint Matthew Passion / Mogens Woldike
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 1085 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Uno Ebrelius,  Waldemar Kmentt,  Hans Braun  ... 
    Conductor:  Mogens Wöldike
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Chamber Choir,  Shottenstrift Boys Choir
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 23.
    Pfitzner: Palestrina / Kempe, Madeira, Lorenz, Soderstrom, Berry
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Max Lorenz,  Jean Madeira,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 24.
    Beethoven: 9 Symphonies / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic [5 CDs & 1 Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002137760 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Gundula Janowitz,  Walter Berry,  Waldemar Kmentt
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
    CD: $97.99
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  • 25.
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Die Zauberflote
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 89901 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Friederike C. Raderer
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  Josef Gostic,  Friederike C. Raderer,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    CD: $18.99
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