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 26-50 of 82 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Verdi: Otello / Windgassen, Jurinac, Mittelmann
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101505 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Margarita Lilova,  Leo Heppe,  Norman Mittelmann,  Walter Kreppel  ... 
    Conductor:  Argeo Quadri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Boys' Choir,  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 27.
    Dokumente Einer Sangerkarriere: Martha Modl
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93460 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Georges Bizet,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Mödl,  Johanna Blatter,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Rudolf Schock
    Conductor:  Hans Löwlein,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt,  Arthur Rother,  Joseph Keilberth  ... 
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  • 28.
    Wagner: Tristan Scenes & Wesendonk Lieder / Weigert, Varnay
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423955 Release Date: 05/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Astrid Varnay,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Hertha Töpper
    Conductor:  Hermann Weigert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 29.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen Scenes / Varnay, Windgassen
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423720 Release Date: 05/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Astrid Varnay,  Wolfgang Windgassen
    Conductor:  Hermann Weigert,  Leopold Ludwig
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Knappertsbusch, Weber, Varnay, Windgassen
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 692092 Release Date: 04/27/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ludwig Weber,  Astrid Varnay,  Elisabeth Schärtel,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 31.
    Strauss: Die Fledermaus Highlights / Janowitz, Wachter, Bohm
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 421898 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Performer:  Heinz Holecek,  Erich Kunz,  Renate Holm,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 32.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 880029 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Rita Streich,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Josef Greindl  ... 
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
    On sale! $41.99
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  • 33.
    Wagner: Siegfried / Solti, Nilsson, Hotter, Stolze
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414110 Release Date: 02/11/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Kurt Böhme,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Gustav Neidlinger  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Dokumente Einer Sangerkarriere - Wolfgang Windgassen
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93457 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 35.
    Wagner: Die Walkure / Keilberth, Modl, Varnay, Hotter, Vinay
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1432 Release Date: 10/13/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Georgine von Milinkovic,  Ramon Vinay  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 36.
    In Memoriam Christel Goltz
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 93455 Release Date: 09/08/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Christel Goltz,  Bernd Aldenhoff,  Max Lorenz,  Elisabeth Wysor  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Rother,  Robert Heger,  Kurt Striegler,  Ferdinand Leitner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian State Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 37.
    Label: Myto Records   Catalog: 903920 Release Date: 09/08/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ira Malaniuk,  Erich Witte,  Josef Greindl,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
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  • 38.
    Wagner: Parsifal / Leitner, Windgassen, Cramer, Modl, Neidlinger, Sentpaul
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 9009 Release Date: 07/28/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Friederike Sailer,  Gerhard Schott,  Franziska Wachmann,  Martha Mödl  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
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  • 39.
    Wagner: Gotterdammerung / Keilberth, Modl, Windgassen, Greindl, Hotter, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1433 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Martha Mödl,  Josef Greindl,  Gré Brouwenstijn,  Hans Hotter  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 40.
    Johann Strauss II: Die Fledermaus / Böhm
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4756216 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Performer:  Erich Kunz,  Gundula Janowitz,  Eberhard Wächter,  Waldemar Kmentt  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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    On sale! $24.98
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  • 41.
    Ultimate Wagner - Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 00115870 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ruth Hesse,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Dorothea Siebert,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti,  Silvio Varviso,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $17.99
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  • 42.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Kempe, Hotter, Nilsson, Windgassen, Vinay
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1426 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Hans Hotter,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Peter Klein  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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    On sale! $137.98
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  • 43.
    Wagner: The Great Operas From The Bayreuth Festival
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001123902 Release Date: 06/17/2008   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Sieglinde Wagner,  Marga Höffgen,  Annelies Burmeister,  Dorothea Siebert  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Silvio Varviso,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 44.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Keilberth, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1412 Release Date: 02/12/2008   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gré Brouwenstijn,  Astrid Varnay,  Hans Hotter,  Ramon Vinay  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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    On sale! $206.98
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  • 45.
    J. Strauss: Die Fledermaus / Janowitz, Wächter, Böhm
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001038309 Release Date: 01/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Performer:  Erich Kunz,  Eberhard Wächter,  Gundula Janowitz,  Renate Holm  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 46.
    The Golden Ring / Solti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000942009 Release Date: 08/14/2007  
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Birgit Nilsson,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Gottlob Frick
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Wolfgang Windgassen Sings Wagner
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000818802 Release Date: 03/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen
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  • 48.
    Wagner: Gotterdammerung / Keilberth, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1393 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Maria Graf,  Jutta Vulpius,  Elisabeth Schärtel,  Maria von Ilosvay  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 49.
    Wagner: Ring / Böhm, Bayreuther Festpiele
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000723802 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schärtel,  Helga Dernesch,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Birgit Nilsson  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 50.
    Wagner: Siegfried / Keilberth, Windgassen, Hotter, Varnay
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1392 Release Date: 04/11/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Hans Hotter,  Paul Kuen  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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    On sale! $91.98
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