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Helmut Krebs

Biography

Helmut Krebs is one of the most important German tenors of the twentieth century. During his remarkably long career he retained a remarkably durable and unusually wide range and was a leader in the early music movement.

Authorities differ as to the place of his birth. His parents were from the German city of Dortmund, but it does appear he was born in Aachen, the name of Aix-la-Chapelle when Alsace was occupied by Germany, but which
Read more emerged from World War I back in French hands. It is likely that when he parents returned to their native city (80 miles northeast of Aachen) they registered him there to establish that Helmut was German by birth.

Helmut studied at the Dortmund Conservatory and when his family moved to Berlin while he was still a teenager he entered the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, where he was taught by Dr. Paul Lühmann. It was a Swiss tenor, Max Meili, who inspired Krebs to develop an unusual vocal technique that extended his range into the countertenor range without using the falsetto voice. (Later, when singing in this range as the early music movement developed, Krebs insisted that falsetto singing -- which was the established norm for countertenors -- was musicologically incorrect. This view is now the majority view among early music scholars.)

He made his operatic debut in 1937 at the Grosse Volksoper in Berlin as Monostatos in The Magic Flute. He made his debut at the Städtische Oper Berlin in 1938. His career was interrupted in 1939 when he was called up for military service.

He survived World War II and made a second debut on the stage of the Düsseldorf Spieloper, singing such roles as Fenton in Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor and Chateauneuf in Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann. During the 1947 - 1948 season, he was given a test engagement at the Berlin Staatsoper (the city's leading company) as David in Die Meistersinger. Conductor Joseph Keilberth engaged him as a member of the company. If one dates Krebs' membership in the Staatsoper from 1947, he remained a member of the company for over 40 years, one of the longest careers any singer has had at any major opera house.

It is pointless to list the names of the great international opera houses where he appeared as a guest artist, nor many of the operas in which he appeared. He could sing leading roles, but his unusual vocal coloration and high voice made him especially suitable for non-heroic tenor roles. He had an adventurous repertory, and was one of the first to sing music of Benjamin Britten in Germany. (He created, for instance, the German version of the title role of Albert Herring.) He sang in the first German presentation of Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron as Aron in 1954, and was particularly known for his portrayal of the comic role of Prof. von Mucker in Henze's The Young Lord.

Early in his career he formed an personal and artistic friendship with the great baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the two often performed together, often memorably as in performances of Bach cantatas and Lieder programs.

Krebs was famous for his portrayal of Mozart's operatic roles and his performances of Mozart's concert arias. He had a particular interest in the music of Heinrich Schütz (whose birthday Krebs shared), and sang in virtually all the choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach with tenor solo parts. During his lifetime he recorded often for the Archiv early music label. He has also been an esteemed teacher and was made a Kammersänger of Vienna in 1963. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 40 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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  ... 
    On sale! $159.98
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  • 2.
    Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1 - Orchestral Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002132602 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Tibor Varga,  Helmut Krebs,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Richard Strauss: Complete Operas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002013902 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Cäcilie Reich,  Eva Maria Rogner,  Ira Malaniuk  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 4.
    Schreker: Die Ferne Klang / Zillig, Crass, Stewart, Wiemann, Lear, Krebs
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 374 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schreker
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Ernst Wiemann,  Thomas Stewart,  Evelyn Lear  ... 
    Conductor:  Winfried Zillig
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  North German Radio Chorus
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  • 5.
    Hans Werner Henze: The Complete Deutsche Grammophon Recordings [16-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001873602 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Hans Werner Henze
    Performer:  Ursula Holliger,  Heinz Holliger,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan,  Siegfried Palm  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Werner Henze,  Paul Sacher,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Richard Kraus  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Zurich Collegium Musicum  ... 
    CD: $143.99
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  • 6.
    Archiv Produktion 1947-2013
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001833572 Release Date: 06/18/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anonymous,  Adam de la Halle,  Raimbaut de Vaqeiras  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Hermann Töttcher,  Maria Jung  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Ristenpart,  Fritz Lehmann,  Maurus Pfaff,  Safford Cape  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Karl Ristenpart Chamber Orchestra,  Bach Festival Orchestra,  Frankfurt Music School Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 7.
    100 Years Deutsche Oper Berlin - Centennial Edition
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107528 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Boris Blacher,  Carl Heinrich Graun,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Aribert Reimann  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Krebs,  Carol Malone,  Victor von Halem,  Gerti Zeumer  ... 
    Conductor:  Caspar Richter,  Hans Hilsdorf,  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Friedemann Layer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex  / Stravinsky, Pears, Modl, Rohr, Krebs
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233694 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Martha Mödl,  Otto Von Rohr,  Heinz Rehfuss,  Helmut Krebs  ... 
    Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Northwest German Radio Chorus
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  • 9.
    Blacher: Preussisches Marchen / Otto, Sardi, Richter
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101658 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Barbara Scherler,  Manfred Röhrl,  Lisa Otto,  Ivan Sardi  ... 
    Conductor:  Caspar Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
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  • 10.
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Voice Of The Century [23 CDs & 2 DVDs]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001792900 Release Date: 01/15/2013   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Daniel Barenboim,  Jörg Demus,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Karl Böhm,  Lorin Maazel,  Karl Richter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $133.99
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  • 11.
    The RIAS Bach Cantatas Project / Ristenpart, RIAS Kammerorchester & Kammerchor
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 21415 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Lorri Lail,  Annelies Westen,  Gerda Lammers,  Lilo Rolwes  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Ristenpart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Orchestra,  Berlin Rias Boys Chorus
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  • 12.
    Ferenc Fricsay Conducts Bela Bartok
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 21407 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Tibor Varga,  Helmut Krebs,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Andor Foldes  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
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  • 13.
    111 - The Collector's Edition 2 [56-CD Set - Limited Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4779142 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 56
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Maurice Ravel,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Stuart Harling,  Robert Lloyd,  Sherrill Milnes,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  John Nelson,  Leonard Bernstein,  Jerzy Semkow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  George Watson's College Boys' Chorus  ... 
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  • 14.
    Bach: Christmas Oratorio (Parts I & II) / Lehmann, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 459017 Release Date: 07/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gunthild Weber,  Heinz Rehfuss,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Helmut Krebs
    Conductor:  Fritz Lehmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Motet Choir,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 15.
    Henze: Der Junge Lord / Dohnányi, Mathis, Otto, Hoppe
    Label: Dg 20th Century Classics   Catalog: 445248 Release Date: 07/15/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hans Werner Henze
    Performer:  Ivan Sardi,  Manfred Röhrl,  Fritz Hoppe,  Helmut Krebs  ... 
    Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 16.
    J. Strauss Jr.: Die Fledermaus / Karajan, Schwarzkopf
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 66844 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Performer:  Helmut Krebs,  Erich Kunz,  Rita Streich,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 17.
    111 Years Of Deutsche Grammophon [55-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001341002 Release Date: 10/20/2009   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Hubert Giesen,  Helmut Walcha  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Daniele Callegari,  Herbert von Karajan,  Karl Richter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  Verdi Chorus Milan  ... 
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  • 18.
    Edition Ferenc Fricsay Vol 8 - Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 23413 Release Date: 05/12/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Anton Dermota,  Helmut Krebs,  Sari Barabas,  Josef Greindl  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    Henze: Der junge Lord / Mathis, Grobe, Dohnányi
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2072398 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Werner Henze
    Performer:  Donald Grobe,  Edith Mathis,  Barry McDaniel,  Manfred Röhrl  ... 
    Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir
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  • 20.
    Monteverdi: L'Orfeo / Koch, Meili, Trotschel
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 3314 Release Date: 10/23/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi
    Performer:  Walter Hauck,  Helmut Krebs,  Gerda Lammers,  Werner Kahl  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmut Koch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Chamber Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
    CD: $22.49
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  • 21.
    Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Legendary Recordings
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 6068 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz von Suppé,  Franz Lehár,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Rupert Glawitsch,  Nicolai Gedda,  Helmut Krebs  ... 
    Conductor:  Walter Lutze,  Otto Ackermann,  Walter Susskind,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $34.99
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  • 22.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer / Hotter, Krebs, Et Al
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 20046 Release Date: 11/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Helene Werth,  Kurt Böhme,  Bernd Aldenhoff,  Helmut Krebs  ... 
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  • 23.
    Mozart: Requiem / Kempe, Grümmer, Höffgen, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 53217 Release Date: 06/06/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Helmut Krebs,  Marga Höffgen,  Gottlob Frick,  Elisabeth Grümmer
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir
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  • 24.
    Igor Stravinsky Conducts His Own Works - Apollo, Etc
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1184 Release Date: 05/30/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Helmut Krebs,  Heinz Rehfuss,  Werner Hessenland,  Peter Pears  ... 
    Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Northwest German Radio Chorus,  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Wind Quintet
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  • 25.
    Bach: Cantatas No 8, 26, 61 & 130 / Werner, Pforzheim
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 749804 Release Date: 04/04/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Erich Wenk,  Jakob Stämpfli,  Jacoba Muckel,  Reinhold Barchet  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Werner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra,  Heilbronn Heinrich Schütz Chorus,  Southwest German Chamber Orchestra
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