Wolfgang Windgassen

Biography

Born: June 26, 1914; Annamasse, France   Died: September 8, 1974; Stuttgart, Germany  
The most important singer of the German Heldentenor repertory in the 1950s and 1960s, Wolfgang Windgassen employed his not-quite-heroic instrument, believable physique, and considerable musical intelligence to forge memorable performances on-stage and in the recording studio. Although his voice lacked the sensuous appeal of Melchior's or Völker's, it was never unattractive and never employed to obvious effect. Indeed, it conveyed a youthfulness Read more that suited the young Siegfried especially well. Born to German parents, both of them singers, in French Savoy, Windgassen began his vocal studies with his father Fritz. He later continued his training with Alfons Fischer and Maria Raznow at the Stuttgart Conservatory. The tenor made his debut as Alvaro in La forza del destino at Pforzheim in 1941. In 1945, he joined the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart, steadily moving from lyric roles to more heroic parts; he remained a singer there until 1972. Upon making his debut in the first postwar season at Bayreuth in 1951, he came to international attention. His Parsifal, growing from uncomprehending innocence to maturity and service, was a moving portrayal and was recorded live by Decca Records. Windgassen became indispensable at the Bayreuth Festival, excelling as Lohengrin, the two Siegfrieds, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. There, he earned the respect and devotion of the three leading dramatic sopranos of the age: Martha Mödl, Astrid Varnay, and Birgit Nilsson. Elsewhere, Windgassen made positive impressions at La Scala (where he debuted as Florestan in 1952), Paris (Parsifal in 1954), and Covent Garden, where he appeared as Tristan in 1954. Although regarded by English critics as somewhat light of voice for Wagner's heaviest tenor roles, his lyric expression and dramatic aptness were wholly admired. The Metropolitan Opera briefly heard him as Siegmund beginning in January 1957 (a role rather low for him) and as Siegfried. Windgassen did not return to America until 1970, when he sang Tristan to the Isolde of Nilsson at San Francisco. Beginning that same year, he turned to stage direction. Among Windgassen's finest recordings are his Bayreuth Parsifal, captured with a superb cast under Knappertsbusch's direction, his 1954 Bayreuth Lohengrin under Jochum, his Siegfrieds under both Böhm at Bayreuth and in the studio with Solti, and his Bayreuth Tristan with Böhm conducting and Nilsson as his Isolde. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 63 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Deutsche Grammophon: The Mono Era (1948-1957)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002457272 Release Date: 03/18/2016   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Stefan Askenase,  Shura Cherkassky,  Halina Czerny-Stefanska,  Basile Bolotine  ... 
    Conductor:  Karel Ancerl,  Karl Böhm,  Serge Jaroff,  Leopold Ludwig  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Quartet,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $145.99
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  • 2.
    The Decca Sound [Repackaged Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002434502 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Alfredo Campoli,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Vladimir Ashkenazy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 3.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Keilberth [Bayreuth 1953]
    Label: Pan Classics   Catalog: 10340 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Josef Greindl,  Hans Hotter,  Bruni Falcon,  Ludwig Weber  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $48.99
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Solti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002330102 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Birgit Nilsson,  Kirsten Flagstad,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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    CD: $52.99
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  • 6.
    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
    CD: $12.99
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  • 7.
    Wagner: Siegried (Bayreuth, 1958)  / Knappersbusch, Varnay, Hotter, Windgassen
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 248 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gerhard Stolze,  Frans Andersson,  Astrid Varnay,  Hans Hotter  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 8.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Solti [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002236146 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Birgit Nilsson,  Kirsten Flagstad,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    Blu-ray Audio: $87.49
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  • 9.
    The Originals - Legendary Recordings from DG
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002171502 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Pierre Fournier,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Franz Konwitschny,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 10.
    Wagner: Tannhauser  / Sawallisch, Windgassen, Fischer-dieskau, Bumbry
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 888143 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Josef Greindl,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $54.49
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  • 11.
    Strauss: Elektra / Bohm, Nilsson, Rysanek, Vienna State Opera (Live)
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 886142 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Leonie Rysanek,  Birgit Nilsson,  Regina Resnik,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 12.
    Wagner: Parsifal / Knappertsbusch, Modl, Windgassen, London
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5161 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hermann Uhde,  Ludwig Weber,  George London,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 13.
    Great Wagner Singers [6-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001826302 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Gundula Janowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Wilhelm Pitz,  Ferdinand Leitner,  Richard Kraus  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde / Bohm, Windgassen, Et Al
    Label: Myto Records   Catalog: 328 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Birgit Nilsson,  Kerstin Meyer,  Eberhard Wächter  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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  • 15.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 / Furtwangler, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 851121 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Gré Brouwenstijn,  Ira Malaniuk,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Ludwig Weber
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $19.99
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  • 16.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Varnay, Hotter, Windgassen, Krauss
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 1504 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Josef Greindl,  Astrid Varnay  ... 
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 17.
    Solti Conducts The Wagner Operas [36-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746302 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Werner Krenn,  Isola Jones,  Janis Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $127.99
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  • 18.
    Ferdinand Leitner Anniversary Edition
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 12019 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Monique Haas,  Deon Van der Walt,  Barbara Kilduff,  Edith Wiens  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Württemberg State Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $68.99
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  • 19.
    Wagner: Tannhauser / Sawallisch, Windgassen, Fischer-dieskau, Bumbry
    Label: Myto Records   Catalog: 291 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Josef Greindl,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Grace Bumbry  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 20.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Nordmo-Lovberg, Windgassen, Karajan
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 9083 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Otto Wiener,  Hans Hotter,  Aase Nordmo-Lovberg,  Walter Kreppel  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 21.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Furtwangler, Italian Radio Symphony
    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
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  • 22.
    Wilhelm Furtwangler - The Great EMI Recordings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 07878 Release Date: 05/17/2011   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Béla Bartók,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Elisabeth Höngen,  Hans Hopf,  Otto Edelmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $73.99
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  • 23.
    Annelies Kupper
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93476 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eugène d' Albert,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Anneliese Kupper,  Hans Reinmar,  Wolfgang Windgassen
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  • 24.
    Wagner: Siegfried / Bohm, Windgassen, Nilsson, Adam
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 412483 Release Date: 01/31/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Theo Adam,  Erwin Wohlfahrt,  Erika Köth,  Vera Soukupová  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Fricsay, Metternich, Kupper
    Label: Dg Double   Catalog: 439714 Release Date: 01/02/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Josef Greindl,  Ernst Haefliger,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra
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