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Uta Graf (Soprano)

Born: January 5, 1915 - Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Died: February 17, 1995 - Greenwich, Connecticut, USA

The German lyric soprano and music teacher, Uta Graf, studied at the Dr. Hoch Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt. She studied with Ria Ginster, Helene Schlusnus and Anna Bahr-Mildenburg.

Uta Graf made her professional debut in 1940 in Düsseldorf. She sang in operas and at concerts in Europe early in her career. Between 1941 and 1943 she performed at the Aachen Opera. During 1943-1944 she was a member of the Cologne Opera and was a guest artist at the opera houses in Dortmund, Dresden and Stuttgart. The great Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau invited her to perform in the USA and she made her North American debut as Sophie in Straussís Rosenkavalier at the San Antonio Opera in 1948.

After her arrival in the USA in 1948, Uta Graf concentrated her activities on the concert hall and teaching. She gave recitals at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1949, 1952, 1964 and 1967. After her 1949 appearance, a reviewer wrote, "Being a woman of taste, imagination and musical culture, she won the cordial applause of her audience." In the first years in the USA, she also sang with the San Francisco Opera (until 1954), the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and guested at the Toronto Opera. She also appeared at the Royal Opera Covent Garden in London (1950-1951, as Sophie and Pamina conducted by Erich Kleiber, and Marcellina in Fidelio), the Netherlands Opera (1955-1958) and during this period guested at the Vienna State Opera and the Munich Staatsoper (1954). On several occasions she participated in the Holland Festival (1955-1958), and was a cast member of the first performance of Henri Tomasiís opera Sampiero Corso in 1958. Later she sang in operas, recitals and concerts in the USA, Canada, Europe and South America. She worked with musicians such as Leopold Stokowski, Josef Krips, Paul Hindemith and Fritz Lehmann.

Uta Graf taught voice at Vassar College in 1949, became a member of the music faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston between 1958-1966, and in 1964 was appointed a Professor at the Manhattan School of Music, New York. She also taught at the Queens College and elsewhere. She also did much private teaching until 1990

Uta Graf's marriage in 1943 to the Belgian concert master Pierre Breyer ended in divorce. She died in 1995 at the Nathaniel Witherill nursing home in Greenwich, Connecticut after a long illness. She was 80 and had lived mainly in New York City after coming to the USA. She was survived by her daughter, Angele A. Elliott-Smith, of Greenwich, Connecticut,and by a sister, Inge Stegmuller of Princeton, New Jersey.

Uta Graf made a score of recordings. Her records appear on the Allegro Elite, Concert Hall and Columbia labels and include The Tales of Hoffmann, Missa Solemnis, Robert Schumannís Frauenliebe und Leben, Arnold Schoenbergís Quartet No. 2, Op. 10 (with the Juilliard Quartet), Gustav Mahlerís Symphony No. 8, J.S. Bachís Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) and Don Giovanni.

Sources: Wiener Singakademie; Operissimo; The Critical Discographies from Choral Music On Records - Mass in B Minor; International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93); Obituary in New York Times (February 20, 1995)
Contributed by
Eric Spicer (February 2002); Manfred Krugmann (Photos 01-03, July 2011); Aryeh Oron (November 2014)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Arnold Black


BWV 211

Fritz Lehmann


BWV 245

Günther Ramin


BWV 232

Links to other Sites

Uta Graf, 80, Singer And Voice Teacher (NY Times)


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