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Ursula Buckel (Soprano)

Born: February 11, 1926 - Lauscha, Thuringia, Germany
Died: December 5, 2005 - Geneva, Switzerland

The German soprano, Ursula Buckel, appeared in many performances of Bach's masses and cantatas on record and in the concert hall. She was highly regarded as a specialist in the works of Mozart, Haydn, Bach and Monteverdi.

Already at the age of 13, Ursula Buckel played the organ in a church of her hometown. However, in 1947 she turned to study singing in the Church School of Music in Braunschweig, and in 1948 she moved her domicile to Konstanz. Afterwards she studied with Hans Höfflin in Freiburg, later with Ria Ginster in Zürich and in Hilversum.

Ursula Buckel became famous when she sang in Kreuzlingen (Switzerland) the soprano solo in Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) by J.S. Bach without previous experience. Since 1954 she lived in Geneva. Soon she was considered as one of the prominent concert and oratorio soprano singers of her generation. She proved herself as important Bach interpreter at the Bach Festival Week of Schaffhausen and Bachwoche Ansbach, where she appeared regularly from 1959 onwards. She often appeared with the Zurich Bach Choir and co-operated for many years with such eminent Bach musicians as Karl Richter and his Münchener Bach-Chor, Diethard Hellmann and his Mainzer Bach-Chor, and Karl Ristenpart. Extended tours brought her success all over the world. She sang in Switzerland, in Germany, in Italy, France, Austria, Finland and England, and she was especially admired for her concerts in Moscow and Leningrad. High points of her career were an expanded tour in the east and Japan with the Deutsche Bachsolisten under Helmut Winschermann, appearances at the Festivals of Athens in the Amphitheater of the Herodes Atticus, concerts in Israel, where she performed works by the contemporary Swiss composer Franc Martin. In 1958 she sang in Basel a solo part in the premiere of Gilgamesch-Epos by B. Martinù. She appeared on the opera stage only once, in 1970 as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni.

Since 1971 Ursula Buckel has been a teacher of voice at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève, where she has conducted many master-classes. She died after longer illness on December 5, 2005 in Geneva at the age of 79 years.

The beautifully shaped voice of Ursula Buckel is retained by a big number of recordings. In addition to her many Bach recordings (on DGG, Harmonia Mundi, Vox, Da-Capo, etc.), she recorded Mozart's Requiem and Felix Mendelssohn's Elias with Roland Bader (on Vox), Mozart's Missa brevis no. 11 with Ferenc Fricsay, Hadyn's Missa brevis Sancti Joannis Deo with Fricsay (Resonance), and Frank Martin's In Terra Pax with Ernest Ansermet. In 1968 she performed in J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232) under Karl Richter's direction in Moscow (avail on disc: Melodiya - LRI S 3X). Other recordings include on Vox (German Requiem of Johannes Brahms), Cantate (Weihnachts-Oratorium of Heinrich Schütz), Intercord (Coronation Mass of Mozart). On Vox she participated in the recording of opera L'Incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi under Rudolf Ewerhart, although she did not actually performed the opera on stage.

The right picture in the upper raw showing from left to right: Ursula Buckel, Hertha Töpper, Maurice André in Helsinki 1966, with Karl Richter for B minor Mass

Source: Zurich Bach Choir Website; Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (July 2001); Walter Roth (December 2005)
Contributed by
Eric Spicer (July 2001), Aryeh Oron (July 2001, December 2005), Walter Roth (December 2005)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Eric Ericson


BWV 244

Rudolf Ewerhart


BWV 202, BWV 212

Diethard Hellmann


BWV 27, BWV 94, BWV 101, BWV 119, BWV 127, BWV 129, BWV 137, Psalm 51 BWV 1083

Erich Hübner


BWV 84

Karl Richter


BWV 8, BWV 26, BWV 78, BWV 147, BWV 232 [3rd], BWV 232 [4th], BWV 244 [3rd], BWV 245 [2nd]

Karl Ristenpart


BWV 57 [2nd], BWV 140 [2nd], BWV 209 [2nd]
BWV 52 [2nd], BWV 58 [2nd]

Kurt Thomas


BWV 23

Helmut Winschermann


BWV 210; Aria for Soprano - Unschuld! Kleinod reiner Seelen

Klaus Martin Ziegler


BWV 68, BWV 172

Links to other Sites

The Jury (DJSG) [German]

Bach-Sängerin Ursula Buckel Gestorben (Neue Press Coburg) [German]

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