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 62 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Wagner: The Complete Opera Collection / Bavarian State Opera, Bayreuth Festival, Badische Staatskapelle, Cagliari Theater...
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 233106 Release Date: 10/25/2010   Number of Discs: 43
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Franz Klarwein,  Luise Willer,  Viorica Ursuleac,  Georg Hann  ... 
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss,  Robert Heger,  Joseph Keilberth,  Günter Neuhold  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $73.99
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  • 27.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Bohm, Bayreuther Festspiele [14-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479602 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gustav Neidlinger,  Thomas Stewart,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 28.
    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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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    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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    CD: $39.99
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  • 32.
    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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  • 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.
    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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  • 36.
    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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  • 37.
    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: $21.99
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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    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
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 40.
    The Golden Ring / Solti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000942009 Release Date: 08/14/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    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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  • 41.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Knappertsbusch, Varney, Et Al
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 660513 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Georgine von Milinkovic,  Astrid Varnay,  Maria von Ilosvay,  Hilde Scheppan  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $128.99
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  • 42.
    Paperback Opera - Wagner: Flying Dutchman / Fricsay, Et Al
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 20036 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Anneliese Kupper,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Ernst Haefliger  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
    On sale! $27.98
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  • 43.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer / Knappertsbusch, Varney
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 271 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Josef Traxel,  Astrid Varnay,  Hermann Uhde  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 44.
    Original Masters - Grace Bumbry - Early Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4775250 Release Date: 02/08/2005   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Wagner,  George Frideric Handel,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Sebastian Peschko,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Erik Werba  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Maurice Abravanel,  Hans Löwlein,  János Kulka  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Utah Symphony Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus  ... 
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  • 45.
    Wagner: Tannhäuser / Cluytens, Fischer-dieskau, Windgassen
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 643043 Release Date: 10/26/2004   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Toni Blankenheim,  Gerhard Stolze,  Alfons Herwig,  Volker Horn  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Schöneberg Boys Choir
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    CD: $54.49
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  • 46.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Furtwängler, Bayreuth Festival
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1127 Release Date: 01/27/2004   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
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  • 47.
    Wagner: Tannhauser / Windgassen, Nilsson, Fischer-Dieskau, Gerdes
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471708 Release Date: 09/10/2002   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Adelheide Tettenborn,  Birgit Nilsson,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Wolfgang Windgassen  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Gerdes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
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  • 48.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold / Bohm, Windgassen, Adam
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 412475 Release Date: 05/08/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gustav Neidlinger,  Annelies Burmeister,  Martti Talvela,  Kurt Böhme  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 49.
    Seine Letzten Aufnahmen - Georg Hann
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 90462 Release Date: 08/28/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Cornelius,  Carl Loewe,  Karl Millöcker,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Carl Hoppe,  Lorenz Fehenberger,  Georg Hann,  Ferdinand Leitner  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Heger,  Edmund Josef Nick,  Walther Knör,  Ferdinand Leitner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich State Opera Chorus,  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 50.
    Recitals - An Evening With Birgit Nilsson Vol 1
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 2033 Release Date: 09/12/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Birgit Nilsson,  Hermann Uhde,  Astrid Varnay  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $9.99
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