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 26-36 of 36 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Original Masters - The Art Of Fritz Wunderlich
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000480702 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Hübsch,,  Traditional,  Osman Perez Freire  ... 
    Performer:  Fritz Wunderlich,  Hermann Prey,  Hubert Giesen,  Ingeborg Hallstein  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Carste,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Robert Stolz,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Graunke Symphony Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Die Spilar-Schrammeln (salon orchestra)  ... 
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  • 27.
    Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier / Varviso, Grümmer, Greindl, Etc
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 619 Release Date: 01/25/2005   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Martin Vantin,  Marlies Siemeling,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Ernst Krukowski  ... 
    Conductor:  Silvio Varviso
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
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  • 28.
    Original Masters - The Singles
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000141802 Release Date: 11/11/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Federico Moreno-Torroba,  Traditional,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Andrés Segovia,  Kim Borg,  Erik Werba,  Andor Foldes  ... 
    Conductor:  Serge Jaroff,  Helmut Zacharias,  Paul Strauss,  Ferenc Fricsay  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Don Kossack Choir,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Végh String Quartet  ... 
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  • 29.
    Bach: St Matthew Passion / Lehmann, Fischer-dieskau, Et Al
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1091 Release Date: 07/24/2001   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Friedrich Härtel,  Diana Eustrati,  Helmut Krebs,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Lehmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir,  Berlin Radio Chorus,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Bartók: Herzog Blaubarts Burg, Etc / Fricsay, Töpper, Et Al
    Label: Dg The Originals   Catalog: 457756 Release Date: 02/13/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Helmut Krebs,  Hertha Töpper
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus
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  • 31.
    Lasso: Missa
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 439958 Release Date: 03/20/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Orlando de Lassus
    Performer:  Helmut Krebs,  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch,  Hans-Olaf Hudemann
    Conductor:  Hans Schrems,  Bruno Turner,  Rudolf Pohl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Regensburg Cathedral Choir,  Instrumental Ensemble,  Pro Cantione Antiqua  ... 
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  • 32.
    J. Strauss Jr.: Die Fledermaus / Karajan, Schwarzkopf, Gedda
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 67153 Release Date: 09/21/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.
    Performer:  Luise Martini,  Nicolai Gedda,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Rita Streich  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
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  • 33.
    R. Strauss: Ariadne Auf Naxos / Karajan, Schwarzkopf, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 67156 Release Date: 09/21/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Irmgard Seefried,  Rita Streich,  Hermann Prey  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Bach: Kantaten / Fischer-Dieskau, Lehmann, Ristenpart
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 449756 Release Date: 11/11/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Maria Jung,  Helmut Krebs,  Hermann Töttcher
    Conductor:  Fritz Lehmann,  Karl Ristenpart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Festival Orchestra,  Frankfurt Music School Chorus,  Karl Ristenpart Chamber Orchestra
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  • 35.
    Verdi: Requiem / Ferenc Fricsay
    Label: Dg The Originals   Catalog: 447442 Release Date: 04/09/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Stader,  Marianna Radev,  Helmut Krebs,  Kim Borg
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir
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  • 36.
    Haydn, Mozart: Masses / Fricsay, Jochum, König, Markevitch
    Label: Dg Double   Catalog: 437383 Release Date: 10/05/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Marga Höffgen,  Richard Holm,  Josef Greindl,  Anton Nowakowski  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum,  Igor Markevitch,  Gustav König,  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir  ... 
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