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Becoming a Lied Singer: Thomas Quasthoff and the Art of German Song

Professor Thomas Quasthoff presents a personal journey into the short but intensely expressive art form of the German lied song.

Thomas Quasthoff, one of the premier baritones of his generation, presents his personal guide to the love of his life, the German lied song. Drawing on his multiple roles as maestro, teacher and founder of an international lied singing competition, Professor Quasthoff goes on a personal journey into this short, domestic but intensely expressive art form.

Lied means 'song' in the German language and lieder are poems of nature, love, and death set for solo voice and a piano. Quasthoff used to sing these songs around the world and now he has turned from practitioner to teacher, passing on this two-century-old tradition to a new generation of young singers.

With a wide range of contributors, including musicians and academics, there is a focus on Franz Schubert as the first great lieder writer. In the early 19th century Schubert, who died tragically young, seized the new possibilities of the piano and created over 600 songs. Thomas unlocks the factors that then came together to create an explosion of lieder: the rise of the German Romanticism and the role that personal, emotional poetry played in the homes of the growing German middle class, the spectacular popularity of the domestic piano and an emerging philosophical imperative to explore the soul.

Lied is the most intimate music of the great composers and in Hamburg Quasthoff goes looking for Johannes Brahms, a composer he feels a great empathy with, and discovers the grave of an almost forgotten poet who inspired a masterpiece of lied song.

The documentary goes to Heidelberg where Quasthoff chairs the Das Lied International song competition - here 26 young lied singers and their pianists spend five days performing before an international jury, including singers Brigitte Fassbaender, Bernarda Fink and Dame Felicity Lott.

The programme includes rare archive of Thomas Quasthoff before his retirement from the classical stage, performing with pianist Andras Schiff in 2003 as well as a newly restored telerecording of Quasthoff's lied singing hero, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. In the most personal section of the film Quasthoff takes a late night vocal excursion to the island of Sicily.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 7 Mar 2018 03:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Franz Schubert

    An Die Musik D547

    Performer: Thomas Quasthoff. Performer: Sir András Schiff.
  • Hugo Wolf

    He Who Has Recovered Addresses Hope

    Performer: Lawrence Halksworth. Performer: Alexander Fleischer.
  • Franz Schubert

    Andante con moto

    Performer: Kungsbucka Piano Trio.
  • Franz Schubert

    Group from Tartarus

    Performer: Modestas Sedlevicius. Performer: Anna Anstett.
  • Franz Schubert

    In a Dark Night

    Performer: Jóhann Kristinsson. Performer: Ammiel Bushakevitz.
  • Franz Schubert

    In Spring

    Performer: Lucy Fitz Gibbon. Performer: Ammiel Bushakevitz.
  • 00:12

    Franz Schubert

    Piano Quintet "Trout" (Theme and Variations)

    Performer: Leonard Hokanson. Performer: Ensemble Villa Musica.
  • Franz Schubert

    The Young Nun

    Performer: Gina May Walter. Performer: Bangin Jung.
  • Mozart

    Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling (KV 596)

    Performer: Thomas Quasthoff.
  • Franz Schubert

    ‘Numbness’ from Winterreise

    Performer: Johannes Rudschies. Performer: Alexander Fleischer. Composer: Wilhelm Müller.
  • Franz Schubert

    The Erl King

    Performer: Teodora Oprisor.
  • Franz Schubert

    An Die Musik D547

    Performer: Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau. Performer: Gerald Moore.
  • Franz Schubert

    The Erl King

    Performer: Bryan Benner.
  • Franz Schubert

    The King in Thule

    Performer: Bryan Benner.
  • Franz Schubert

    The King in Thule

    Performer: Iúnó Connolly. Performer: Dylan Perez.
  • Charlie Chaplin

    Smile

    Performer: Thomas Quasthoff.
  • Carl T Fischer

    We’ll be together again

    Performer: Thomas Quasthoff. Performer: Frank Chastenier. Composer: Frankie Laine.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Cradle Song Brahms' Lullaby, Op. 49 No. 4

    Performer: Thomas Quasthoff. Performer: Frank Chastenier.
  • Johannes Brahms

    The Sons of Men

    Performer: Thomas Quasthoff. Performer: András Schiff .
  • Johannes Brahms

    In the Churchyard

    Performer: Michael Rakotoarivony. Performer: Teodora Oprisor. Composer: Josef Wenzig .
  • Johannes Brahms

    Of Eternal Love

    Performer: Laure-Catherine Beyens. Performer: Alexander Fleischer.
  • Franz Schubert

    All Souls Litany

    Performer: Samuel Hasselhorn. Performer: Renate Rohlfing.
  • Wolfgang Rihm

    Evening Greetings

    Performer: Nazan Fikret. Performer: Rebecca Cohn.
  • Franz Schubert

    In Spring

    Performer: Jóhann Kristinsson. Performer: Ammiel Bushakevitz.
  • Franz Schubert

    Im Abendrot

    Performer: Clara Osowski. Performer: Tyler Wottrich.
  • Franz Schubert

    All Souls Litany

    Performer: Samuel Hasselhorn. Performer: Renate Rohlfing.
  • Franz Schubert

    Im Abendrot

    Performer: Clara Osowski. Performer: Tyler Wottrich.
  • Franz Schubert

    The Erl King

    Performer: Samuel Hasselhorn. Performer: Renate Rohlfing.
  • 00:44

    Johannes Brahms

    Symphony No. 3 In F (3Rd Movement)

  • 00:57

    Franz Schubert

    Unfinished Symphony: I- Allegro Moderato

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