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Famous Like Me > Singer > S > Peter Schreier

Profile of Peter Schreier on Famous Like Me

Name: Peter Schreier  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 29th July 1935
Place of Birth:
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Peter Schreier (born July 29, 1935) is a German tenor and conductor.

Early life

Schreier was in Meissen, Saxony, and spent his first years in the small village of Gauernitz, near Meissen, where his father was a teacher, cantor and organist. In June 1945, when Schreier was almost ten years old, and just a few months after the destruction of Dresden, he entered the boarding school of the famous Dresden boys' choir, the Kreuzchor (Choir of the Kreuzkirche or Church of the Cross). The choir had just been re-established. The young Peter and the few other choir members and teachers lived in a cellar in the outskirts of Dresden.

The conductor of the Kreuzchor, Rudolf Mauersberger, soon recognized Peter Schreier's great talent. He let him sing many solo alto parts and also created compositions that perfectly fitted Peter's boy voice. Solo recordings of Peter Schreier were made at the time and are obtainable on compact disc even today.

Schreier was 16 years old when his voice broke, and he became a tenor, as he had passionately wished, because of the roles of Evangelist in J.S. Bach's music. After he had decided to become a professional singer he took lessons, at first privately, then later on at the Dresden Academy of Music. He had enough spare time to also study choral and orchestral conducting.

Musical career

Peter Schreier made his professional debut in August 1959, playing the role of first prisoner in Fidelio by Beethoven. In the years that followed he was successful as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) and somewhat later as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), both operas by Mozart.

In 1963 he was employed by the Berlin State Opera at Unter den Linden. Since 1966 he has been an annual guest of the Vienna State Opera. That same year he made his debut in Bayreuth as the young seaman in Tristan und Isolde with Karl Böhm as conductor. For 25 years, from 1967 onward, he took part in the program of the annual festivals at Salzburg.

He has not only sung Mozart roles, but played an excellent Loge in Das Rheingold by Wagner. It was important to him to sing the title role of Palestrina, the opera by Hans Pfitzner, not only in Munich but also in East Berlin — a controversial issue at the time in East Germany.

In June 2000, Peter Schreier left the opera stage. His last role was Prince Tamino in Die Zauberflöte; he argued that he could no longer act as if he was still a young prince. He will end his career as a singer in December 2005 in a performance of parts of Bach's Christmas Oratorio in Prague.

Since the start of his career Peter Schreier has become famous as a singer of German Lieder. He is still an excellent singer of Schubert and Schumann songs. The music of J.S. Bach has been in the very centre of his interests since his youth. He sings the part of the Evangelist as no one else does; always as a story-teller with a intense commitment to the story.

Since 1970 Peter Schreier has also been a conductor with a special interest in the works of Mozart, J.S. Bach and Haydn. In the performances of Bach's Oratorios he often even combines the roles of Evangelist and conductor.

Peter Schreier has lived in Dresden since 1945, in the district of Loschwitz on the right bank of the river Elbe.


Particularly in his later years, Schreier would not be considered to have the most beautiful of tenor voices. Rather, it is the intelligence and beauty of his musical expression, as well as the intensity with he projects the meaning of the text, that have secured his reputation.

For example, the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs says of Schreier's recording of Franz Schubert's Schwanengesang, "Schreier's voice may no longer be beautiful under pressure, but ... the range of tone and the intensity of inflexion over word-meaning makes this one of the most compelling recordings ever." Of his recording of Schubert's Die Winterreise, the same authors say "this is an intensely involving reading, with changes of mood vividly conveyed, positive, electrifying."


  • National First Class Prize of the GDR
  • Bundesverdienstkreuz (Prize of Federal Republic of Germany)
  • Leonie Sonnings Music Prize, Copenhagen
  • "Ernst von Siemens" Prize
  • Honorary membership of the Musikverein Wien (Vienna Society of Music)
  • "Wiener Flötenuhr"
  • "Georg Philipp Telemann" Prize
  • European Church Music Prize
  • Title of "Kammersänger" (a title conferred to singers of outstanding merit) by the governments of the GDR, Bavaria and Austria
  • Honorary citizen of the town of Meissen because of his efforts in fund-raising for the restoration of the town.


  • The quotation from the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs, by Ivan March, Edward Greenfield, and Robert Layton, is from the 1996 edition, published by Penguin, ISBN 0140513671.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Peter Schreier