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Elisabeth Grümmer

Biography

Born: March 31, 1911   Died: November 6, 1986   Country: Germany  
Elisabeth Grümmer was one of the favorite German sopranos of the middle two decades of the twentieth century.

She was born Elisabeth Schilz in Alsace-Lorraine. When the French regained the territory in 1918, her family moved to Meiningen. She studied drama at the university, and then started a successful career as a stage and film actress. Her stage training included training of her voice.

She moved to Aachen after marriage to
Read more Detlef Grümmer, the concertmaster of the orchestra there. She said that it was the sound of his violin, when he played cantabile, legato, that led her to understand the nature of singing. The music director at Aachen at that time was Herbert von Karajan, who cast her as one of the Flower Maidens in Wagner's Parsifal (Aachen, 1940). Soon she sang the leading role of Octavian in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, with her tall, slim figure making her especially convincing in this leading male role. (One critic rhapsodized that she "looked like a Botticelli Madonna in Gluck's Orpheus.")

In 1942 to 1944 she was engaged at that Duisberg Opera as the primary soprano for lyrical roles. During the war, her husband was killed in an air raid, in the basement of their home, holding his violin. She said he was her only love, and never remarried. After the end of the war, she joined the Städtische Oper of West Berlin (now the Deutsche Oper), which was her primary professional association throughout her career, remaining with that major company through 1972.

Her British debut was at Covent Garden in 1952, followed by an Edinburgh Festival in 1952, and she appeared at Bayreuth from 1957 to 1961. Her American debut was with the New York City Opera in Der Rosenkavalier (as the Marshallin) in 1967. She sang seven times with the Metropolitan Opera in that same year, as Elsa in Lohengrin. The first six of these were on tour; the seventh was her only appearance in the Metropolitan Opera House itself. By that time critics had been noticing some deterioration of her voice on and off for a few years, but, as she said at the time of the tour, "Granny can still do it."

She also appeared at Glyndebourne, the Hamburg Staatsoper, in East Berlin and Dresden, the Salzburg Festival, La Scala, Rome Opera, and Teatro Colón.

She excelled in the more noble and lyrical roles-the Marshallin, Octavian, the Countesses of Mozart (the Marriage of Figaro) and Strauss (Capriccio), Pamina, Euridice in Gluck's Orpheus, Ilia in Idomeneo, Eva in Meistersinger, and Elsa in Lohengrin, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, and sang Ellen Orford in the first German production of Britten's Peter Grimes. By all accounts, her dramatic training served her well, helping to make her portrayals more convincing.

It has been suggested that the vocal decline of the 1960s was caused by an ill-advised turn to the dramatic soprano repertory. She sang Electra in Idomeneo in 1961 and 1962 at Salzburg, and Dona Anna in Don Giovanni shortly afterward.

As a recording artist, she made several notable discs, although the surplus of her voice type (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Lisa della Casa, Irmgard Seefried, and Sena Jurinac were all close contemporaries) meant that she never recorded her leading Strauss roles in their entirety. She was a noted recitalist, but was surprisingly stiff in that style of singing on recordings.

Her farewell stage performance was at the Deutsche Opera in 1972 (as the Marshallin). She actively taught in Lucerne and Paris after her stage retirement. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 60 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Weber: Der Freischutz / Furtwangler, Grummer, Hopf, Streich
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 121166 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
    Performer:  Hans Hopf,  Oskar Czerwenka,  Alfred Poell,  Rita Streich  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Great Singers Live: Elisabeth Grummer
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900308 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Hans Altmann,  Waldemar Kmentt
    Conductor:  Kurt Eichhorn,  Horst Stein
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  • 3.
    Great Wagner Voices
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900310 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ingrid Bjoner,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Martina Arroyo,  Rudolf Schock  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 4.
    Wilhelm Furtwangler: Wiener Konzerte 1944-1954 [18-CD Set]
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 834118 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  César Franck,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda,  Dagmar Bella,  Paul Schöffler,  Anton Dermota  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singakademie,  Vienna Boys' Choir
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    CD: $118.99
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  • 5.
    Haydn: Die Schopfung / Grummer, Traxel, Frick, Forster, Berlin Symphony
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 235442 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Gottlob Frick,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Josef Traxel
    Conductor:  Karl Forster
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin St. Hedwig Cathedral Choir
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  • 6.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 165022 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner,  Bedrich Smetana,  Engelbert Humperdinck  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Gerald Moore,  Edwin Fischer  ... 
    Conductor:  Walter Susskind,  Heinrich Schmidt,  Herbert von Karajan,  Lovro von Matacic  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 7.
    60 Jahre Munchner Rundfunkorchester: Great Singers Live
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900309 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Lucia Popp,  Hermann Prey  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ghiaurov,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Georges Prêtre,  Alfredo Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
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  • 8.
    Singers Of The Century - 40 Greats Of  The 20th Century
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2078 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Ettore Bastianini,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Richard Tucker,  Mario Del Monaco  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 9.
    Deutsche Oper Berlin - 100 Years 1912-2012
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107522 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Domenico Cimarosa
    Performer:  Erika Köth,  Walter Berry,  Pilar Lorengar,  Donald Grobe  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Giuseppe Patané,  Arthur Rother,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 10.
    Wagner - The Great Operas [36-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 973359 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Siv Wennberg,  René Kollo,  Janis Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Otto Klemperer,  Bernard Haitink,  Rudolf Kempe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Dresden State Opera Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $120.98
    CD: $92.99
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  • 11.
    Voices Of German Opera
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 40497 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Heinrich Marschner  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Edda Moser,  Kurt Moll,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Berislav Klobucar,  Rudolf Moralt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 12.
    Ave Maria
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 7317182 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Johann Pachelbel,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Karl Hochreither,  Monika Frimmer,  John Connell  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden,  Andrew Parrott,  Lajos Rovátkay,  Philip Ledger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Capella Agostino Steffani,  Hespèrion XX  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 13.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Fischer-Dieskau, Berry, Grummer, Fricsay
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101574 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Erika Köth,  Walter Berry,  Pilar Lorengar,  Donald Grobe  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
    DVD: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Wagner: Lohengrin Highlights / Kempe, Thomas, Fischer-Dieskau
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 94894 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Jess Thomas,  Christa Ludwig,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    CD: $12.99
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  • 15.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Furtwangler, Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra  [125th Anniversary Edition]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 08161 Release Date: 05/17/2011   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Alfred Poell,  Josef Greindl,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Julius Patzak  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Chorus Rome,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome
    Recommendation
    On sale! $67.98
    CD: $58.99
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  • 16.
    Weber: Der Freischutz / Keilberth, Prey, Grummer, Otto, Kohn, Schock, Berlin Po
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 48177 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
    Performer:  Rudolf Schock,  Leonore Kirschstein,  Helga Hildebrand,  Ernst Wiemann  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $24.99
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  • 17.
    Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem; Mozart: Serenata Notturna / Klemperer
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5002 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Hermann Prey
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Cologne Radio Chorus
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  • 18.
    Dokumente Einer Sangerkarriere: Gottlob Frick, Vol. 3
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93473 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Peter Cornelius  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Terkal,  Gottlob Frick,  Hugo Meyer Welfing,  Kurt Equiluz  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Heger,  Wilhelm Schüchter,  Rudolf Kempe,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $22.98
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    Schubert Lied-Edition Vol 9
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 40034 Release Date: 11/22/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Erna Berger,  Heinrich Schlusnus,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Isobel Baillie  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 20.
    Humperdinck: Hansel Und Gretel / Karajan, Grummer, Schwarzkopf, Metternich
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 40716 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck
    Performer:  Else Schürhoff,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Josef Metternich,  Anny Felbermayer  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Loughton Girls School Chorus,  Bancroft's School Choir
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  • 21.
    Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg - 50 Years
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001469202 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Nelson Freire,  Alfred Brendel,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Claudio Abbado,  Sir Georg Solti,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $99.97
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  • 22.
    Icon - Fritz Wunderlich
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 29525 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Heinrich Finck,  Heinrich Isaac,  Adam Krieger,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Naumann,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Otto Steinkopf,  Gerhard Kastner  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Forster,  Hans Müller-Kray,  Berislav Klobucar,  Robert Heger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin St. Hedwig Cathedral Choir,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $41.99
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  • 23.
    Icon - Rudolf Kempe
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 29557 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  Sylvia Geszty,  Teresa Zylis-Gara,  Gundula Janowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $87.98
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  • 24.
    Wagner: Tannhauser, Etc / Suitner, Patane, Et Al
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 880004 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Carola Nossek,  Henno Garduhn,  Ludmila Dvoráková,  Celestina Casapietra  ... 
    Conductor:  Otmar Suitner,  Giuseppe Patané
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $30.99
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  • 25.
    Elisabeth Grummer Sings Mozart, Schubert, Brahms & Wolf
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94209 Release Date: 09/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Hugo Wolf
    Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Hugo Diez
    Conductor:  Karl Münchinger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
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