Born: March 10, 1947
Initially known primarily as an artist devoted to music of the Baroque period, bass-baritone Robert Holl later ranged more widely, eventually finding his way to the stage works of Wagner. A favorite artist of conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Holl was later (considerably later) taken into the fold of singers favored by Daniel Barenboim and was chosen by that conductor to sing the role of Hans Sachs for his recording of Die Meistersinger and live performances at Bayreuth. Holl's sturdy, though not especially steady or sensuous, instrument has consistently been guided by sound training and intelligence. Following his winning first prize in the 1971 's-Hertogenbosch Vocal Competition, Holl moved to Munich to study with legendary bass-baritone Hans Hotter. After a year's work with Hotter, Holl was awarded another first prize, this time at the Munich International Competition. In 1973, he joined the Bayerischen Staatsopernchor in Munich, remaining there until 1975. Holl was introduced to a worldwide audience through the series of Bach recordings and videotaped performances he made with Harnoncourt. At the same time, he appeared in concert under other major conductors, Sawallisch, Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Giulini, Chailly, and Marriner among them. Invitations to major festivals brought Holl to Salzburg, the Vienna Festival, Prague Spring Festival, the Schubertiade Hohenems, Berliner Festwochen, the Russian Winter Festival, and the Flanders Festival. A fruitful association with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim began with a September 1991 concert at Chicago's Grant Park of the final movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Subsequently, Holl has appeared in complete performances of that work at Orchestra Hall and has undertaken Lieder recitals with Barenboim as accompanist. Collaborations with other musicians have included a series of performances devoted to the Bach oratorios directed by tenor/conductor Peter Schreier and Lieder recitals with a number of leading accompanists. While he has appeared on numerous recording labels, Holl has extensively explored the Lieder repertory for Preiser Records. For that label, he has performed the music of Schubert and Wolf, as well as the less-familiar songs of Hans Pfitzner, Franz Schmidt, and Max Reger. On occasion, Holl has performed with his wife, soprano Ellen van Lier. In 1990, Holl was awarded the title of Kammersänger in Vienna.