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Peter Schreier Biography

Peter Schreier Biography: Schreier was born in Meißen, Saxony, (29 July 1935 – 25 December 2019) was a German tenor and conductor.

Peter Schreier Early life

Schreier was born in Meißen, Saxony, and spent his first years in the small village of Gauernitz near Meißen, where his father was a teacher, cantor and organist. In June 1945, when Schreier was almost ten years old and only a few months after the destruction of Dresden, he entered the boarding school of the famous Dresden Boys’ Choir, the Dresden Kreuzchor. , The choir had just been rebuilt. Young Peter and the few other choir members and teachers lived in a basement on the outskirts of Dresden.
The conductor of the cross choir, Rudolf Mauersberger, soon recognized Peter Schreier’s great talent. He let him sing many solo alto parts and also created compositions that matched Peter’s boy’s voice perfectly. At this time (1948-1951) individual recordings by Peter Schreier were made, which are still available on CD today.
Schreier was 16 years old when his voice broke and he became a tenor, as he had passionately wanted, because of the various evangelists – all tenors – in J.S. Bach’s passions and in his Christmas oratorio. After deciding to become a professional singer, he took private lessons, later at the Dresden Music Academy. He had enough time to also study choir and orchestra management.

Peter Schreier Quick Bio

BornJuly 29, 1935, Meissen, Germany
DiedDecember 25, 2019
AlbumsMendelssohn: Elias, MORE
AwardsErnst von Siemens Music Prize, Léonie Sonning Music Prize
Music groupDresdner Kreuzchor (Since 1945)

Peter Schreier Married

Peter Schreier was married and lived in Dresden from 1945, in the district of Loschwitz.

Peter Schreier Musical career

Peter Schreier made his professional debut in August 1959, playing the role of the First Prisoner in Fidelio by Beethoven. In the years that followed he was successful as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) and somewhat later as Tamino in The Magic Flute, both operas by Mozart.
In 1963, he was employed by the Berlin State Opera at Unter den Linden. Starting in 1966, he was for many years an annual guest of the Vienna State Opera. That same year he made his debut in Bayreuth as the young seaman in Tristan und Isolde with Karl Böhm as conductor. For 25 years, beginning in 1967, he took part in the program of the annual Salzburg Festival. In 1969, he starred as The Witch in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, in a CD recording that featured the Staatskapelle Dresden.
He also sang Loge in Das Rheingold and Mime in Siegfried by Wagner. It was important to him to sing the title role of Palestrina, the opera by Hans Pfitzner, not only in Munich but also in East Berlin — a controversial issue at the time in East Germany.
He recorded Bach cantatas with Adele Stolte, Annelies Burmeister, Theo Adam, the Thomanerchor and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Erhard Mauersberger, such as the cantata for Pentecost Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172 in 1970. Recordings of the Bach’s St Matthew Passion have included the version conducted by both Rudolf and Erhard Mauersberger, Karl Richter, Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan. He recorded Bach’s St John Passion with Helmuth Rilling.
In June 2000, Schreier left the opera stage. His last role was Prince Tamino in The Magic Flute; he argued that he could no longer act as if he were still a young prince. He ended his singing career on 22 December 2005, combining the roles of evangelist and conductor in a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Prague.
Throughout his career Schreier was famous as a singer of German Lieder, including the songs of Schubert and Schumann.
From 1970, Schreier was also a conductor with a special interest in the works of Mozart, J.S. Bach, and Haydn. During his singing career, in the performances of Bach’s oratorios, he would often combine the roles of Evangelist and conductor.

Peter Schreier Evaluation

Particularly in his later years, Schreier would not be considered to have the most beautiful of tenor voices. Rather, it was the intelligence of his musical expression, as well as the intensity which he projects into the meaning of the text, that secured his reputation.
For example, the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs says of Schreier’s recording of Franz Schubert’s Schwanengesang, “Schreier’s voice may no longer be beautiful under pressure, but … the range of tone and the intensity of inflexion over word-meaning makes this one of the most compelling recordings ever.” Of his recording of Schubert’s Winterreise, the same authors say “this is an intensely involving reading, with changes of mood vividly conveyed, positive, electrifying.”

Peter Schreier Death and Cause

German singer and conductor Peter Schreier, one of the leading lyric tenors of the 20th Century, has died in Dresden at the age of 84.

One of the few international stars to emerge from former communist East Germany, he sang in opera houses from Berlin to Vienna and New York.
In his later years he lived with his wife at a country home outside Dresden. “I’ve really sung enough and would just like to enjoy a few more peaceful years now,” he told German media after his retirement.

Peter Schreier Honors and awards

Kammersänger (title conferred to singers of outstanding merit) by the governments of the GDR, Bavaria and Austria, 1963, 1980, 1992
National First Class Prize of the GDR, 1967
Robert Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau, 1969
Handel Music Prize of the City of Halle, 1972
National Prize of the GDR, 1972
Gold Vaterländischer Verdienstorden, 1984
Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, 1988
Léonie Sonning Music Prize, Denmark, 1988
Honorary membership of the Musikverein Wien (Vienna Society of Music), 1986
Großer Stern der Völkerfreundschaft, 1989
Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, 1989
Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany), 1992
Member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin, 1993
Wiener Flötenuhr, 1994
“Georg Philipp Telemann” Prize of the city of Magdeburg, 1994
German Bible Prize, for service in the great Passions and Interpretation of the work of J.S. Bach, 1998
European Church Music Prize, 2000
Honorary membership of the “Europäische Kulturwerkstatt” (EKW) – International society of music, theatre and art, 2005, Berlin
Honorary citizen of the city of Meissen for efforts in fundraising for the city’s restoration
Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize, 2009
Hugo Wolf Medal, Hugo Wolf Academy, Stuttgart, 2011
International Mendelssohn Prize of the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Foundation, Leipzig, 2011
Bach Medal, Bach Festival Leipzig, for interpretation of Bach, 2013
Sächsischer Verdienstorden, 2016
Kunstpreis der Landeshauptstadt Dresden, 2016