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Subject: Re: new book in German on Frida Leider
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 27 Aug 2017 13:12:44 -0700
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I’m very glad to know about this and will seek it out.

She was very much caught up in the conflict and ambiguity of her time, which caused her to withdraw from staged performances in the late 1930s, when the voice was still good (although short a couple of top notes). Heinrich Schlusnus talked her into getting back into the recording studio in the early 40s for Lieder recordings. She otherwise stopped performing because of her opposition to the Nazi regime; her husband was a Jewish conductor/violinist who left Germany in 1938. I don’t remember why she stayed.

Some years ago, I had read her autobiography. It came out in German in 1959 as “Das war mein Teil” (from the Solomon passage that occurs in the first of the Brahms “Four Serious Songs”). I read it in Charles Osborne’s English translation, “Playing My Part” and I still have a copy of that. it was a very interesting read - more so than the “typical” prima donna autobiography.

Most listers will be familiar with her singing, but some may not. A voice worth seeking out and fortunately she was captured by excellent engineering for the late 20s and early to mid 30s. A really big voice but with real color, spin and fluidity in her singing. To me, hers is still the “reference” recording of Brünnhilde’s “Ho-jo-to-ho” in the 1927 recording of that passage with Friederich Schorr and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra conducted by Leo Blech. A fresh, free, spinning sound with the upward slurs to the high B and C perfectly executed and real trills. Leider knew that Blech had a reputation for extreme strictness and she practiced the war cry for weeks ahead of the recording, wanting it to be perfect. It paid off.

Those who heard and saw her considered her to be the great singing actress that Flagstad and Nilsson, despite the greatness of their voices and their commitment to their characters, simply were not. She was also capable of a great deal of flexibility with her huge sound, as can be heard in her recordings of Donna Anna’s “Or sai chi l’onore” and the big “Fidelio” aria.

She lost a couple of her highest notes in the early 1930s, when she was otherwise still in her prime. Recordings captured from live Covent Garden “Ring” performances in 1937, under Furtwängler, show her still in full command and presenting a Brünnhilde coming apart at the seams in the second act of “Götterdämmerung” with an intensity and expressive force that suggest a Wagnerian Callas.

Of the 1940s Lieder recordings, the original matrices made by German HMV had been lost/destroyed. However, she had been supplied test pressings, which she kept carefully stored so that Preiser was able to issue these on LP in the 1970s. Oddly, the Preiser CDs don’t have all of the material that was on the LPs.

Max Paley


> On Aug 27, 2017, at 10:43 AM, [log in to unmask] wrote:
> 
> I see there's a recently published biography on Frida Leider:
> 
> "Frida Leider: Saengerin im Zwiespalt ihrer Zeit" by Eva Rieger.  Published by Georg Olms, 2017.
> 
> Anyone read it yet?
> 
> 
> 
> Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
> Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
> blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
> Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; EXLIBRIS-L ; SoundForge-users
> --- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---
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