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Hermann Uhde (Bass-Baritone)

Born: July 20, 1914 - Bremen, Germany
Died: October 10, 1965 - during a performance in Copenhagen, Denmark

The noted German bass-baritone, Hermann Uhde, was born to an American mother, who was singing student of the famous baritone Karl Scheidemantel. Hermann himself studied at Philipp Kraus's opera school in Bremen.

Hermann Uhde made his debut at the Stadttheater of Bremen as Titurel in Parsifal in 1936. Further engagements: Stadttheater Freiburg im Breisgau from 1938 to 1940; Bavarian State Opera in Munich from 1940 to 1942 (or 1943); the German Opera at The Hague from 1942 (or 1943) to 1944. Here he began to sing baritone parts. Finally, he was drafted to the Wehrmacht towards the end of World War II and was confiscated in France in U.S. captivity.

After the war, Hermann Uhde was engaged at the State Theatre of Hanover from 1947 to 1948; at the State Opera of Hamburg from 1948 to 1950; at the State Opera of Vienna from 1950 to 1951; at the State Opera in Munich from 1951 to 1956; at the Staatsoper Stuttgart from 1956 to 1957; he was again a member of the Vienna State Opera from 1957 to 1961; since 1961 he also a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

On August 9, 1949 Hermann Uhde sang at the Salzburg Festival in the premiere of Carl Orff's Antigonae the part of Kreon; in 1950 in The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten; on August 6, 1961 in the premiere of the opera Das Bergwerk zu Falun by Wagner-Régeny the role of Elis Fröbom. From 1951 to 1960 he sang nearly every year at the Bayreuth Festival, where he was greatly admired for his Flying Dutchman (1955-1956), his Telramund and his Klingsor (1951-1953), his Gunther (1951-1957), his Donner (1953) and his Wotan (1952, 1960) in Der Ring des Nibelungen, his Telramund in Lohengrin (1953-1954) and his Melot in Tristan (1952). Performances at the Grand Opera of Paris (Wanderer in the Siegfried, 1959), at the Opera of Rome and many other major theatres brought him important successes.

Hermann Uhde made his American debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Telramund in Lohengrin on November 18, 1955; was on its roster until 1957, then again from 1958 to 1961 and in 1963-1964. Overall, he appeared at the Met in six seasons, twelve roles, in 60 performances, including the Grand Inquisitor in Verdi's Don Carlos, and Klingsor and Amfortas in Parsifal (both roles, once he even sang them both at the same evening when he was called to replace George London as Amfortas). In 1958 he sang the title role in the premiere of A. Berg's Wozzeck. In 1953 he sang with Munich Opera Ensemble, and from 1954 to 1960 as a guest at the Covent Garden Opera in London. In 1965 he collapsed during a performance of the opera Faust III by Niels Viggo Bentzon (he had created the title role of this opera in the world premiere at the Theater of Kiel in 1964), and died on the stage of the Copenhagen Opera.

Hermann Uhde was particularly acclaimed for his performances in Wagnerian roles, but also for many other baritone heroes, and was considered as one of the major singer-actors of his generation.

Recordings: Decca (Parsifal in Bayreuth, Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin), DGG, Philips. On Melodram he appeared in recordings from Bayreuth Festival of 1952 in Rheingold and Götterdämmerung. On the same label as Wanderer in Siegfried (Bayreuth, 1960) and as Telramund in Lohengrin (Bayreuth, 1954). He can also be heard on Discocorp in Zauberflöte from Salzburg Festival (1949).

Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2008)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2008)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Eugen Jochum


BWV 244 [1st]

Links to other Sites

Uhde, Hermann (Cantabile-Subito)

Hermann Uhde (Wikipedia)

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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