Obituary on the death of Christa Ludwig

She is simply the best!

I always thought Christa Ludwig was the greatest Brahms singer, but she was until I heard her sing Strauss. Again, I had to assign her a new throne. Then I heard her sing Wagner, and again I experienced the same thing. And when I heard her sing Wagner, and again I experienced the same thing. And when I heard her recently, with her incredible interpretation of the Old Lady in my musical "Candide", I had to give up. She is simply the best! (Leonard Bernstein)


Christa Ludwig shone as a bright star over the world's great opera stages in the second half of the 20th century.
With the role of "Cherubino" in Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro", with her brilliant interpretation of "Brangäne" in Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde", as "Marschallin" in "Rosenkavallier", but also as "Carmen", Christa Ludwig conjured up starry hours of music history with her three patrons and admirers Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm and Leonard Bernstein.
Christa Ludwig reached the Olympus of the art of song with her legendary interpretations of Schubert's songs, the effect of which Theodor W. Adorno described with the words "Before Schubert's music, the tear falls from the eye without first consulting the soul", as well as with her unforgettable recordings of Gustav Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder" or the "Lied von der Erde" with her wonderfully soulful and sensual mezzo-soprano.


Whether for Schubert or Wolf, Brahms or Mahler, whether powerful or delicate, whether black or white - Bösendorfer always sets the "good tone". With constant love, Christa Ludwig




Christa Ludwig was born into the world of opera and singing. Her father was an opera singer and director, and her mother was also an opera singer. Christa Ludwig was introduced to music by her mother at an early age with "little games". She sang instinctively and naturally. Later she also learned the great art of interpretation from her mother. After she was engaged for small roles at the Frankfurt Opera in 1946, the "little games" gave way to real vocal work both at home and at the Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt. In 1954, at the Salzburg Festival, she met the great conductor Karl Böhm and there for the first time played a role that was to become a milestone in her career: "Cherubino" from Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro." The encounter with the great maestro was to be decisive: In 1955, Karl Böhm engaged the young singer to join the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera, where she remained for almost 30 years, performing nearly 769 performances and slipping into some 42 roles.
However, it was not only to the "First House on the Ring" that the Berlin native and later Viennese by choice remained loyal. The grande dame was also always attached to the house of Bösendorfer. After the war, her mother acquired a Bösendorfer with the compensation payment of 5000 RM that she had received for the apartment destroyed by the bombing raids, which the family proudly presented as their "first piece of furniture." The Bösendorfer instruments, affectionately referred to as B1, B2, B3 and B4, also accompanied the singer later through many stages of her life.   
On April 26, 2021, the great Christa Ludwig has now passed away at the age of 93. Whether in song or in opera - always in search of the soul and the human, the numerous moments of musical perfection that she was able to give her audience with her beautiful, warmly timbrated voice will remain unforgotten.


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