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Peter Schreier (Tenor, Conductor)

Born: July 29, 1935 - Meissen, Germany

The highly esteemed German tenor and conductor, Peter (Max) Schreier, was a son of a Church Kantor, who gave him his first musical training. At the age of eight Peter was entered in the preparatory class of the famous chorus the Dresdner Kreuzchor, to which he belonged for many years, and it helped to pave the way for his later musical career. He made his first operatic appearance as one of the Three Boys in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in 1944, which led him to consider a musical career. At the age of ten he started as a soprano but they discovered rapidly that he was an alto. Soon he rose to the position of first alto soloist within the choir. Even as a boy chorister, Schreier was entrusted with many solo parts. As such he sang on some of the first German LP’s ever released, of Bach cantatas on Deutsche Grammophon's Das alte Werk imprint. He travelled to France, Scandinavia, and Luxembourg, among other destinations, on tour with the Dresdner Kreuzchor.

Peter Schreier remained with the choir as a tenor after his voice changed. In 1954, he began taking private voice lessons with the well-known Leipziger concert singer and singing pedagogue Fritz Polster (1954-1956), while working as a member of the Leipzig Radio Chorus. In 1956, he entered the Dresden Musikhochschule (Carl Maria von Weber College Music), where his teacher was Winkler. Schreier studied both singing and conducting. He also studied at the Dresden State Opera's training school. In 1957, he appeared in the opera studio's production of Il matrimonio segreto as Paolino. He graduated from the Musikhochschule in 1959, passing the State Exam.

Peter Schreier joined the Dresden State Opera's company as a lyric tenor, making his official operatic debut there as the First Prisoner in L.v. Beethoven’s Fidelio in 1959. He became a regular member of the company in 1961. During those years he made an intriguing concert tour to India and the African nation of Mali. He sang a guest appearance at the Berlin State Opera and in 1963 gained a contract with that company as its leading lyric tenor. He made numerous guest appearances in the Soviet Union and other countries of what was then known as the Eastern Bloc, and appeared fairly often in the West. He made his bow in Vienna in 1966 and at the Salzburg Festival one year later, singing Tamino each time. He appeared for the first time in London in 1966 (debut as Ferrando with the visiting Hamburg State Opera), and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1967 (debut as Tamino). There followed his first appearances at the Bayreuth Festival, the Vienna State Opera (1967), La Scala in Milan (1968) and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires (1969). Schreier has been heard in all the world’s major opera houses.

Peter Schreier quickly won acclaim in particular for his portrayals of Mozart's main tenor roles and as a recitalist. He was also high praised for roles as diverse as Alfred in Die Fledermaus and Loge in Das Rheingold, and appeared in the premiere of Paul Dessau's Einstein as the Physicist. He also sang the role of Almaviva in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Fenton in Verdi's Otello, and Lensky in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, to name a few.

Peter Schreier’s keen interest in the oratorio has earned him an international reputation as a concert singer. Schreier has set standards in the interpretation of Bach’s Oratorios, Passions and Cantatas, notably the parts of the Evangelists, that remain a challenge for every tenor today. He has also won acclaim as an incomparable performer of the Lied. His Schubert was especially regarded for its highly expressive projection and shaping of the words.

Peter Schreier sang primarily on East German recordings, many of which are re-released on CD on the Berlin Classics label, and for the Philips label. Numerous records, radio and television productions attest to the multifarious talents of a singer.

In 1970, he took up the other side of his career, conducting for the first time at a concert with the Dresden Staatskapelle. Since then he has emerged as a leading Bach and Mozart conductor.

Peter Schreier finished his singing career in December 2005, combining the roles of Evangelist and conductor in a performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) in Prague. He continues his work as a conductor.

Peter Schreier received numerous honours, including the National Prize (First Class) of the German Democratic Republic, the Salzburg Mozarteum's Silver Mozart Medal, and the title of Kammersänger (1964). In 1986 he was appointed an honorary member of the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Anderson-Nexö Prize of the City of Dresden, and the Ernst von Siemens Foundation Prize. He published the book ‘Aus meiner Sicht: Gedanken und Erinnerungen’ (edited by M. Meier, Vienna, 1983). In 2005 appeared 'In Rückspiegel' (Vienna, also edited by M. Meier).

More Photos

Sources: Liner notes to 10-CD Set Berlin Classics 001856-2BC (Bach Made in German Vol. VII, 2000); Liner notes to Berlin Classics CD BC-1066-2 (Cantatas BWV 55, 84 & 199, conducted by Pommer, 1993); All Classical Guide Website; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2001), Marijke Halberstadt (January 2006); Matthias Hansen (Photos 22-23 - August 2009; Photo 24 - May 2010; Photos 25-26 - September 2010))

Peter Schreier: Short Biography | Kammerorchester Berlin
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | General Discussions | Interview with Schreier [Are Söholt]
Individual Recordings:
BWV 232 - Schreier | BWV 245 - Schreier | BWV 248 - Schreier
Table of recordings by BWV Number

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Under his name


Sacred Songs from the Schemelli Song Book

Claudio Abbado


BWV 244 (x2)

Sergiu Celibidache


BWV 232

Martin Flämig


BWV 233-236, BWV 244 [3rd, Evangelist], BWV 248/1-6 [1st]

Wolfgang Gönnenwein


BWV 243a

Hans Grüss


BWV 508, BWV 515a, BWV 516, BWV 518

Nikolaus Harnoncourt


BWV 211 [DVD], BWV 248 [Video/DVD]

Günter Jena


BWV 244 [Evangelist], BWV 248

Herbert von Karajan


BWV 232 [4th], BWV 243 [3rd], BWV 244 [2nd, Evangelist]

Benhard Klee


BWV 244 [Evangelist]

Kurt Masur


BWV 244

Helmut Koch


BWV 205, BWV 206

Erhard Mauersberger


BWV 18, BWV 55, BWV 62, BWV 78, BWV 80, BWV 140, BWV 172, BWV 189, BWV 244
Arias for Tenor from BWV 36, BWV 43, BWV 75, BWV 76, BWV 103, BWV 110, BWV 134, BWV 135, BWV 177

Rudolf Mauersberger & Others

Boy Alto

Excerpts from BWV 232, BWV 245, BWV 459, BWV 466, BWV 495 (all as a member of Dresdner Kreuzchor)

Max Pommer


BWV 55, BWV 245 [VHS]; Arias from BWV 19, BWV 103

Karl Richter


BWV 5, BWV 6, BWV 9, BWV 10, BWV 11, BWV 12, BWV 13, BWV 17, BWV 23, BWV 24, BWV 26, BWV 27, BWV 28, BWV 30, BWV 33, BWV 34, BWV 38, BWV 61, BWV 63, BWV 67, BWV 70, BWV 76, BWV 80, BWV 81, BWV 87, BWV 92, BWV 93, BWV 96, BWV 100, BWV 102, BWV 104, BWV 105, BWV 111, BWV 115, BWV 116, BWV 121, BWV 126, BWV 130, BWV 132, BWV 135, BWV 137, BWV 139, BWV 140, BWV 148, BWV 171, BWV 175, BWV 178, BWV 179, BWV 180, BWV 182
BWV 244 [4th - DVD - Evangelist], BWV 244 [5th - Evangelist], BWV 245 [3rd - DVD - Evangelist]
Sacred Songs
BWV 445, BWV 446, BWV 447, BWV 449, BWV 450, BWV 451, BWV 453, BWV 460, BWV 461, BWV 466, BWV 469, BWV 475, BWV 478, BWV 480, BWV 484, BWV 487, BWV 493, BWV 495, BWV 506

Helmuth Rilling


BWV 4, BWV 16, BWV 36, BWV 42, BWV 103, BWV 108, BWV 175, BWV 177, BWV 183
BWV 245 [2nd, Evangelist & Arias], BWV 248, Schemellis Gesangbuch

Hans-Joachim Rotzsch


BWV 1, BWV 10, BWV 21, BWV 26, BWV 36, BWV 40, BWV 61, BWV 71, BWV 80, BWV 110, BWV 134, BWV 137, BWV 140, BWV 172
BWV 243, BWV 244 [Video], BWV 245

Peter Schreier


See: Recordings: Part 1 | Part 2

Gothart Stier


BWV 244

Hans Thamm


BWV 93, BWV 131, BWV 137, BWV 190

Links to other Sites

Peter Schreier Page
Schreier, Peter - Sänger, Tenor (Dresden Online) [German]
Peter Schreier - Conductor/Tenor (Mariedi Anders)
Munzinger Personen - Peter Schreier [German]

Tapiola Chamber Choir: Other Stuff
Ernst von Siemens Musikstifstung - Peter Schreier (1935) [German]
Peter Schreier - tenor (Hyperion)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 02:45