Gérard Souzay (Bass-Baritone)
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Gerard Souzay (1918-2004)
Margaret Mikulska wrote (August 17, 2004):
Gérard Souzay, an incomparable interpreter of mélodies and Lieder, died today (17. Aug. 2004) in his home in Antibes, France.
Here are some obits:
Gramophone: Gérard Souzay has died: http://www.gramophone.co.uk/newsMainTemplate.asp?storyID=2183&newssectionID=1
Nouvel Observateur: Le baryton Gérard Souzay est décédé: http://permanent.nouvelobs.com/culture/20040817.OBS4854.html
France 2: Le baryton français Gérard Souzay est mort: http://cultureetloisirs.france2.fr/musique/actu/3917032-fr.php
Death of Gerad Souzay
Alan M. Watkins wrote (August 17, 2004):
Gérard Souzay has died August 17 2004
The much-loved French baritone Gérard Souzay died in his sleep this morning aged 85.
Over the course of a distinguished 43-year recording career, Gérard Souzay had released over 750 titles and won the French Grand Prix du Disque on three separate occasions. His reputation as arguably the greatest French baritone of the past 50 years was founded upon his mastery both as an interpreter of mélodie and as an opera singer, in particular in his role as Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande.
Souzay was born Gérard Marcel Tisserand on December 8, 1918 to a musical family in Angers in France. He attended the Paris Conservatoire between 1940 and 1945, where he studied mélodie with such celebrated figures as Pierre Bernac and Claire Croiza as well as opera with Vanni Marcoux. He gave his first recital in 1945 and went on to make his opera début in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 1960. Souzay, as the natural heir to Bernac, was also acclaimed for his approach to the Lieder of Schubert, Schumann and Wolf as well as his interpretations of the mélodies of Debussy and Poulenc among others. Gramophone writer WR Anderson praised the baritone's 'tonal ease and tuneful style' in a review of one of his first recordings in 1949.
Gérard Souzay was recently short-listed for a Gramophone award in the Historic Reissue category (a category that he had previously won in 1991), for a collection of mélodies recorded for Decca between 1950 and 1955 and reissued by Testament.
Born December 8, 1918; died August 17, 2004.
I had the good fortune to hear him in recital several times including one lieder recital in which he gave two extraordinary performances: one of The Erl King in which he managed three quite separate voices (which gave me goosebumps) and, as an encore, L'Heure Exquise (Hahn) in which the delicacy of his singing was also extraordinary. I think it is probably the finest recital I have ever heard.
RIP Mr Souzay and thank you for enriching my life by your wonderful singing and recordings.
Matthew B. Tepper wrote (August 17, 2004):
Alan M. Watkins wrote: appears to have caused the following letters to be typed in: news:firstname.lastname@example.org:
[uncited Gramophone obit snipped]
< I had the good fortune to hear him in recital several times including one lieder recital in which he gave two extraordinary performances: one of The Erl King in which he managed three quite separate voices (which gave me goosebumps) and, as an encore, L'Heure Exquise (Hahn) in which the delicacy of his singing was also extraordinary. I think it is probably the finest recital I have ever heard.
RIP Mr Souzay and thank you for enriching my life by your wonderful singing and recordings. >
I never did hear him live, but I've enjoyed his recordings for years.
I wonder if Billboard.com will bother with an obituary?
Tom Deacon wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Alan M. Watkins] This is very sad news, Alan, for me personally. I shall treasure the time I spent in the company of this wonderful musician. The little I did on his behalf at Philips earned me much gratitude from a singer who thought the world had forgotten him. In fact, it had not, but he was hard to convince of that fact.
He gave a speech at an awards ceremony in Paris a few years back and had everyone in the audience in stitches of laughter and full of praise for his casually elegant speech.
His life of late was not a happy one, alas, and thus his passing will be a blessing to him.
Now, of course, there will be many reissues of his work, which would have made him deliriously happy. Sad that he is not here to see his own flowers bloom again.
Tom Deacon wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Matthew B. Tepper]
Richard Loeb wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Tom Deacon, regarding Billboard] Its an entertainment news service geared to the recording industry.
Evelyn Vogt Gamble wrote (August 18, 2004):
Matthew B. Tepper wrote: < I never did hear him live, but I've enjoyed his recordings for years. >
I did once, many, many years ago. Unfortunately, I was too young at the time to really appreciate his artistry, but I certainly enjoyed recordings of him in later years.
Jon E. Szostak, Sr. wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Richard Loeb] Have the recording of Souzay doing the Schubert 'Winterreise' with Dalton Baldwin of which I've always been rather found. Here's a singer who's been around for quite a while. All else passes...art alone endures. RIP-
Matthew B. Tepper wrote (August 18, 2004):
Richard Loeb appears to have caused the following letters to be typed in news:e9mdndHJirYGA7_cRVnemail@example.com:
< Its an entertainment news service geared to the recording industry. >
It carries all of the important news, such as a rapper in prison who has had his phone privileges revoked, while it ignores all of that unimportant stuff, such as Carlos Kleiber dying.
Graham wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Alan M. Watkins] There's an anecdote recounted by, I think, John Amis who worked in a London record store in the early 50s. One day, Souzay walked in and asked for all the records they had of this German baritone, Fischer-Diskau. A couple of days later, F-D walked in and asked for all the records of this French baritone Souzay.
Brendan R. Wehrung wrote (August 18, 2004):
Richard Loeb writes: < Its an entertainment news service geared to the recording industry. >
No, it's a state of blissful ignorance (of anything really important).
Terry Simmons wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Alan M. Watkins] Yes, he was really terrific. I had the good fortune to hear him in recital and in a master class in the late 50s. What a musician!
Alan Watkins wrote (August 18, 2004):
[To Tom Deacon] Well, you can hold your head up. You did do something for him and for music lovers, too.
His flowers will keep blooming for future generations. This is what great artists in our age can leave behind through the medium of recordings. They are not now lost as in the past.
I only met him once - and many years ago at that - but I thought him charming. The great Czech baritone Ivan Kusjner knew him quite well, I believe, and described him as one of the "warmest" human beings he had met (Mr Kusjner is of similar temperament).
Michael G Thomas, the London record dealer, told me that Souzay would often come to his shop to buy recordings, some "off air" of himself, once saying: "Do you know, I had completely forgotten I had done that" and being delighted with his purchase and then spending hours in the shop just talking about singers of both past and present. Michael said: "He would buy one or two records but then we would discuss these great singers and sometimes he would leave with 20 or 30 LPs."
Sw Anandgyan wrote (August 18, 2004):
This is to inform you the passing away of Gerard Souzay at the age of 85 y/o in Antibes.
I have his recording of the BWV 82 ...
His real name was Gerard Tisserand.
Gérard Souzay, 85, a Baritone Revered for Art Song Repertory, Dies
Teri Noel Towe wrote (August 18, 2004):
Gérard Souzay, 85, a Baritone Revered for Art Song Repertory, Dies
August 19, 2004
By ANNE MIDGETTE
Gérard Souzay, the French baritone who was one of the 20th century's finest interpreters of art songs, died on Tuesday at his home in Cap d'Antibes, France. He was 85.
He died of natural causes, said Winston Ku, director of the Gérard Souzay Vocal Arts Foundation and a student and friend of the singer.
Mr. Souzay frequently appeared in opera - including New York City Opera and the Met - and was widely held to be the definitive Golaud in Debussy's "Pélléas et Mélisande." But it was in art song that he made his greatest mark, and not only in the songs of French composers. His more than 750 recordings include classic versions of Schumann, Schubert and Hugo Wolf.
Although one of his teachers was the great French singer Pierre Bernac, it annoyed him to be called Bernac's worthy successor. He would say, "I am not like Pierre Bernac, who did not have a proper voice."
Mr. Souzay certainly did have a proper voice: not huge, but rich in color and tone, supple and sensual and lovely. His reluctance to be stereotyped as merely a French singer was related to the fact that he tended to be eclipsed by his contemporary the German baritone and art-song specialist Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Many aficionados have always preferred Souzay. The difference between the two is crudely outlined in the notion that Mr. Fischer-Dieskau specialized in intellectual, text-driven, carefully planned performances, while Mr. Souzay was more of a sensualist, reacting viscerally to the music and allowing it to carry him in new directions in a given concert.
"I think that's the reason why I shall never be really popular," he said in 1983. "The big public likes interpretations that are explanations. For me, music is crystal clear and self-explanatory. Therefore, when I am performing I only propose my feelings."
Any rivalry between the two, however, was tempered with respect. "I wish I could sing French song as well as Souzay can sing German lieder," Mr. Fischer-Dieskau once said.
Born in December 1918 as Gérard Tisserand, Mr. Souzay studied with Bernac, Claire Croiza and Vanni Marcoux at the Paris Conservatory, from 1940 to 1945. His opera career didn't begin until 1960, when he made his debut in Aix-en-Provence in Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas," but by then he was already well established as a recitalist and recording artist. Famously loyal to his accompanists, he recorded only with two, Jacqueline Bonneau, and Dalton Baldwin, who was still a student when he met Mr. Souzay. The two began a long artistic and personal association.
In later years, Mr. Souzay taught, both at the University of Texas at Austin and in master classes, and seriously took up painting. He also worked on his legacy, supervising the selection and remastering of reissues of his earlier records. His last days, Mr. Ku said, were spent selecting Beethoven songs for a CD.
"Simply, music means a lot to me and I feel very deeply what I sing," Mr. Souzay once said. "Sometimes when I sing I shiver. But it's not because I love what I am doing. It's because music moves me to the bones."
Click here: The New York Times > Arts > Music > Gérard Souzay, 85, a Baritone Revered for Art Song Repertory, Dies
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