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 47 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Wagner: Lohengrin / Kempe, Grummer, Ludwig, Fischer-Dieskau
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554009 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Christa Ludwig,  Jess Thomas,  Elisabeth Grümmer
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Vom Himmel hoch - Christmas Carols
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 95741 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Charlotte Kaufmann,  Johann Friedrich Reichardt,  Mark Lothar  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Reith,  Michael Raucheisen,  Gunthild Weber,  Eta Wickop  ... 
    Conductor:  Fried Walter,  Günther Arndt,  Hans Carste
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Orchestra,  Berlin String Quartet,  Hendel Quartet  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 3.
    Ferenc Fricsay - Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon Vol 2
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002346910 Release Date: 07/17/2015   Number of Discs: 37
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Hertha Töpper,  Helmut Krebs,  Ernst Haefliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir  ... 
    CD: $154.49
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  • 4.
    Richard Wagner: Gotterdammerung (Bayreuth 1958)
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 249 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Josef Greindl,  Astrid Varnay,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 5.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold (Bayreuth 1958) / Knappertsbusch, Hotter, Grummer, Konya
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 246 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Hans Hotter,  Rita Gorr,  Frans Andersson  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 6.
    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
    CD: $29.99
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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 4645633 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Else Schurhoff,  Anny Felbermayer  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $12.99
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  • 11.
    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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    CD: $58.99
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  • 12.
    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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  • 13.
    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
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    On sale! $99.99
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  • 14.
    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: $101.49
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  • 15.
    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
    On sale! $39.99
    DVD: $31.99
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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:  Leo Heppe,  Harald Buchsbaum,  Gottlob Frick,  Hugo Meyer Welfing  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Heger,  Wilhelm Schüchter,  Rudolf Kempe,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $22.98
    CD: $18.99
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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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  ... 
    CD: $57.49
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    Festival Of The Primadonnas
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 8025 Release Date: 06/30/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Arrigo Boito,  Giacomo Puccini,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Ljuba Welitsch,  Maria Callas,  Astrid Varnay  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Max Rudolf,  Hermann Weigert,  Wilhelm Schüchter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 22.
    Herbert Von Karajan Vol 3 - Beethoven: Symphonies No 3 & 9
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 23414 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Gottlob Frick,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Ernst Haefliger,  Marga Höffgen
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir
    CD: $18.99
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  • 23.
    Best Karajan 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15206 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Bernard Walton,  Dennis Brain,  Lothar Koch,  Maurice André  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    Bach: Cantatas Nos. 4, 11 And 68
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 92012 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Agnes Giebel,  Marga Höffgen,  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch,  Theo Adam  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  Leipzig St Thomas Church Choir
    CD: $17.99
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  • 25.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Elisabeth Grummer
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89701 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert,  Karl Friedrich Zelter,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Schüchter,  Hugo Diez,  Arthur Rother,  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir
    On sale! $22.98
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