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The World's Greatest Tenors - Fritz Wunderlich

Updated on November 13, 2012

Fritz Wunderlich

Fritz Wunderlich Poster
Fritz Wunderlich Poster
Fritz wunderlich Museum
Fritz wunderlich Museum
Inside the Museum
Inside the Museum
Inside the Museum
Inside the Museum
Inside the Museum
Inside the Museum
Kusel, Germany - Birhplace of Fritz Wunderlich
Kusel, Germany - Birhplace of Fritz Wunderlich


The World’s Greatest Tenors – Fritz Wunderlich


A survey in the April 2008 issue of the BBC Music Magazine rated Fritz Wunderlich as the fourth greatest tenor of all time yet many Americans have never even heard of him.


One reason is because he died young at age 35 and the other is because he sang most of his operas in German rather than the language in which they were written.


I might never have heard of him, either except that a good friend of mine, who had been born and raised in Germany, told me about him and played some of his records for me.


This was the same person who had previously introduced me to Richard Tauber and Josef Schmidt. ( I featured them in two prior Hubs). Since I enjoy listening to great tenors and since I understand a little German, I immediately went out and bought some of his records.


I could try to describe how he sounds and discuss his strengths and weaknesses, but I prefer to let his voice do that instead. To start out I have selected the following two recordings;


"Dein ist mein ganzes herz" from the Operetta The Land of Smiles by Franz Lehar, and

"Ach, So Fromm" from the Opera Martha by Von Flotow


"Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" by Franz Lehar

"Ach, So Fromm" from Martha by Von Flotow


Friedrich "Fritz" Wunderlich was born in Kusel, Germany in 1930. His father was a choirmaster and his mother was a violinist. He started out working in a bakery. His friends and neighbors insisted that he study music after hearing his beautiful voice.


He managed to gain a scholarship to the Freiburg Music Academy where he studied voice and also the French horn. His crystal clear voice and intelligent interpretation soon led him to reach the full range of the lyric tenor.


Initially he stood out in Mozartian rolls, but he soon added Verdi, Schubert, Schumann, Bach and even Wagner to his repertoire.


During Fritz Wunderlich’s career, it was the custom for German theaters to perform operas in German rather than the language in which they were originally written. When you listen to some of his recordings, try to concentrate on the music rather than the words.


Unfortunately, Fritz Wunderlich died at age 35 in a fall from a stairway in a friend’s country house while on a hunting vacation in Oberderdingen, Germany. (his hobbies included hunting and fast cars),


I would like to close this Hub with two classic arias by Puccini:

"Che gelida mania" from La Boheme, and

"E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca

Both of them are sung in German.


Che gelida manina by Puccini (in German)

E lucevan le stelle by Puccini (in German)

Kusel, Germany (Between Frankfurt and Freiburg)

show route and directions
A markerKusel, Germany -
Kusel, Germany
get directions

B markerFreiburg, Germany -
Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
get directions

C markerFrankfurt, Germany -
Frankfurt, Germany
get directions

D markerOberderdingen, Germany -
Oberderdingen, Germany
get directions


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    • profile image

      Robert 4 years ago

      Without a doubt a beautiful voice. Just listen to him sing Mozarts Die Zaubeflote, none better.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      He is great. Up, Useful, Interesting, Awesome, and shared

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the introduction to this tenor. I've never heard of him before. He has a beautiful voice! What a shame that he died so young.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I never heard of Fritz, either, until now. Thanks for doing this piece.