Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

léonie sonning music prize 1975

The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of 65,000 Danish kroner at a concert on 6 May 1975 at the Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen. The concert was broadcast later the same evening on the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s P1 radio channel.



The prize was presented by Børge Friis, the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation’s chairman, who said a few words, including these, before the official presentation:

‘The Léonie Sonning Music Prize of 65,000 Danish kroner is hereby awarded to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in deep admiration for his extensive and epoch-making efforts in the field of lieder.’



Mendelssohn Das Waldschloss; Nachtlied; Pagenlied

R Schumann In der Fremde; Schöne Fremde; Zwielicht; Im Walde; Der Einsiedler

Pfitzner Im Herbst; Lockung; In Danzig; Der verspätete Wanderer; Nachts

Bruno Walter Der Soldat; Der junge Ehemann

Schwarz-Schilling Kurze Fahrt; Marienlied; Bist du manchmal auch verstimmt

Wolf In der Fremde; Nachtzauber; Der Musikant; Nachruf; Seemanns Abschied



Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone

Tamás Vásáry, piano

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in Denmark

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau first performed in Denmark on 22 September 1953, giving a lieder recital at the Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen. ‘Unconditional surrender!’ wrote the music critic in the daily newspaper Social-Demokraten. ‘No singer in memory has got as close to the ideal in song interpretation as was heard yesterday. His singing was utterly supreme. According to expressive need, he changed the sound character of his bright baritone, stretching it out in the finest pianissimo or ringing like a doomsday trumpet. But first and foremost, he was an absolutely fantastic musician.’

Fischer-Dieskau returned several times in the following years, but the visits gradually became less frequent given his international career. By the time of the prize concert, it was five years since his last performance in Denmark. After the lieder recital in question, in 1970, the music critic Hansgeorg Lenz wrote in the newspaper Information: ‘It was one of those evenings on which you are happy that you are not a singer. Because then you would have to leave the concert hall and shoot yourself with a bullet to the forehead. Because it was as dizzying as a lieder recital can be. […]. I think that being in the company of such a distinctly intelligent artist as Fischer-Dieskau is a pleasure without equal. It was one of those evenings where art became something so big that you felt small in an infinitely charitable and enriching way.’

Fischer-Dieskau’s prize concert in Copenhagen in 1975 was combined with a long tour around Germany with the same repertoire, where all songs had words by the poet Joseph Eichendorff. Fischer-Dieskau had himself written an article in the programme book concerning the background of the songs and the attraction that Eichendorff’s poetry held for the various composers.


The daily press wrote, among other things:

One presumes people have not sung like this in Copenhagen for years. Fischer-Dieskau has been singing for 27 years and there is not a stain on his voice, not a single sign of wear. It is as if he is now able to reach the core of these very songs without the slightest effort. He gets to where the greatest and fewest musicians reach, where the expression has reached the naturalness of spoken language. Lieder delivered like this is like a storytelling art that uses sound as its most natural ingredient. It was breathtaking to be part of it.

(Robert Naur, Politiken, 7 May 1975)

He completed his unique interpretative magic circle several times, with enchanting richness of nuance and with an absolutely superb sense of form. These songs cannot be sung with more musical truthfulness. The evening was Fischer-Dieskau’s but he was not alone. He had Tamas Vasary as his accompanist. Only a few individuals can offer more compassionate and flexible accompaniment. You will not forget him in a hurry.

(Nils Schiørring, Berlingske Tidende 7 May 1975)

As a lieder singer, he has no equal in history, both in terms of the scope of his efforts and for the consistently high level. […]. One sometimes hears it said that the concert format is dead. That is simply ignorance from those for whom it has never been alive. With Fischer-Dieskau it works to perfection. It is to be in the company of a master who pleas relentlessly and completely on behalf of great art using only breathtaking professionalism.

(Hansgeorg Lenz, Information, 9 May 1975)

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