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Thomas Quasthoff

Kirsty Young's castaway is bass-baritone singer Thomas Quasthoff.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff. He has performed in concert halls the world over under the batons of the finest conductors and, while he made his name as a Lieder singer, he's equally popular for his jazz, spiritual and gospel recordings.

Music critics say he is "one of the great singers of our time and one of the most remarkable of any time." That his life has been remarkable is a reference to his disability: he was born suffering the effects of Thalidomide and although his early musical talent was spotted, his inability to play the piano meant he was not allowed to take up a place at a conservatoire.

In this candid and moving interview, though, he describes how, with his family's support, he went on to build a highly successful career. Now, living contentedly with his wife and daughter, he says his life is a full and satisfying one. He adds that when he sees how readily people become consumed by envy and resentment, he questions whether that too isn't a kind of disability.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: The Adagietto from 5th symphony by Gustav Mahler
Book: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Luxury: Good wine.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 6 Feb 2009 09:00

Music Played

  • Gary Burton and Chick Corea

    I'm Your Pal

    • Crystal Silence.
    • ECM.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26/1

    • Chopin: Polonaises.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Franz Schubert

    Das Wirthaus (The Tavern) (from Winterreise)

    • Schubert: Winterreise. Die Schone Mullerin..
    • EMI.
  • Stevie Wonder

    Sir Duke

    • Songs in the Key Of Life.
    • Motown.
  • Claude Debussy

    Beau soir

    • Debussy Melodies.
    • EMI.
  • Chick Corea

    Love Castle

    • My Spanish Heart.
    • Polydor.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Cantata No. 82: Ich habe genug

    • Bach: Cantatas: Quasthoff..
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Gustav Mahler

      Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor- 4th movement (Adagietto)

      Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Simon Rattle.
      • Mahler: Symphony No.5: Rattle.
      • EMI.
  • Book Choice

    • Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela

  • Luxury Choice

    • Good wine


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Thomas Quasthoff


  • Sun 1 Feb 2009 11:15
  • Fri 6 Feb 2009 09:00

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