Entertainment & Arts

Thomas Quasthoff, German bass-baritone, to retire

Thomas Quasthoff
Image caption The singer said he would continue to teach in Berlin

German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff has announced that he is to retire from the concert stage.

The 52-year-old said on his website he was ending his nearly 40-year-career due to health issues.

"My health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself," he said in a statement.

The singer said he would continue to teach at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin.

Born with serious physical defects caused by his mother's exposure, during pregnancy, to the drug thalidomide, Quasthoff stands four feet tall due to a shortening of his leg bones.

Initially denied admission to music conservatory owing to his condition, he has since appeared on stages around the world performing under the likes of conductors Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti.

"I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness," Quasthoff said.

"On the contrary, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will now enter my life.

"I would like to thank all my fellow musicians and colleagues, with whom I stood together on stage, all the organizers, and my audience for their loyalty."

He will also continue his role as artistic director of biennial song competition, Das Lied, which he created in 2009.

After making his mark as a Lied and concert singer, he took up opera in 2003, singing the minister from Fidelio at the Salzburg Easter Festival and following it up with a performance as Amfortas at the Vienna State Opera a year later.

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