(b Vienna, 19 April 1886; dInnsbruck, 26 Feb 1962). Austrian musicologist. He studied with Adler at the University of Vienna, where in 1912 he received the doctorate with a dissertation on Monn. From 1912 to 1928 he was Adler's assistant, and he completed his Habilitation at Vienna in 1915 with a work on the genesis of the Viennese Classical style, becoming a university lecturer in 1919 (titular professor, 1923). In 1928 he was appointed reader in musicology at the University of Innsbruck, but was suspended from this post after the German annexation of Austria (1938). Expelled from the Tyrol he moved to Vienna (1939), where during the war years he was conscribed to forced labour in a metal factory. In 1945 he became director of the Vienna conservatories, and from 1948 until his retirement in 1961 he held the professorship at the University of Innsbruck.
During the 40 years of his university teaching Fischer was renowned for his wide knowledge and outstanding gifts as a teacher. As a scholar he gained an international reputation through his important systematic style study Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Wiener klassischen Stils (1915), his ‘Geschichte der Instrumentalmusik 1450 bis 1880’ (1924), his Mozart research, and his activity in the Zentralinstitut für Mozartforschung (chairman, 1951). Although modern musicology has moved beyond the methodology he laid out in 1915, the significance of his pioneering approach to style analysis remains undiminished. The term Fortspinnung, which he coined, continues to be used in both English and German. During the last years of his life Fischer was honoured with the Salzburg Mozart medal, with the Ehrenring of the city of Innsbruck, and on his 70th birthday with a Festschrift.
Matthias Georg Monn als Instrumentalkomponist (diss., U. of Vienna, 1912); extracts in DTÖ, xxxix, Jg.xix/2 (1912)
Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Wiener klassischen Stils (Habilitationsschrift, U. of Vienna, 1915); extracts in SMw, iii (1915), 24–84
‘Zur Kennzeichnung der mehrstimmigen Schreibweise um 1500’, SMw, v (1918), 27–34
‘Verzeichnis von bibliographischen Hilfswerken für musikhistorische Arbeiten’, in G. Adler: Methode der Musikgeschichte (Leipzig, 1919/R) [suppl.]
H.Zingerle, ed.: Festschrift Wilhelm Fischer (Innsbruck, 1956) [incl. H. Zingerle: ‘Wilhelm Fischer als Forscher und Lehrer’, 7–8]
P.Nettl: ‘In memoriam Wilhelm Fischer’, AcM, xxxiv (1962), 85–7
H.Zingerle: ‘Wilhelm Fischer zum Gedächtnis’, Mf, xv (1962), 354–8 [incl. complete list of writings]
Fischer, William G(ustavus)
(b Baltimore, 14 Oct 1835; d Philadelphia, 12 Aug 1912). American composer of gospel hymns and Sunday school songs.
Fischer, William S.
(b Shelby, MS, 5 March 1935). American composer. He learned to play the piano and the saxophone as a child and went on to study at Xavier University, New Orleans (BS 1956), Colorado College, Colorado Springs (MA 1962), and the Academy of Music and Performance, Vienna (1965–6). He taught at Xavier University (1962–6), in the New York Public School System (1967–75) and at Newport and Cardiff Colleges in Wales (1966–7). During the 1950s, he played the saxophone in jazz and blues ensembles and performed with musicians such as Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Guitar Slim and Joe Turner. He began to work as a composer, arranger and musical director in the 1960s and 70s and collaborated in these capacities with Roberta Flack, Yuseef Lateef and Joe Zawinul.
Jazz and blues idioms permeate Fischer’s large-scale compositions. Like many black American composers after World War II, he was comfortable writing for both popular venues and the concert hall. His best-known works are Experience in E for jazz ensemble and orchestra, Quiet Movementfor orchestra, an opera, Jesse, and the recording The Rise and Fall of the Third Stream.
E.Southern: The Music of Black Americans (New York, 1971, 3/1997)
(b Berlin, 28 May 1925). German baritone. He was one of the leading singers of his time, an artist distinguished by his full, resonant voice, cultivated taste and powerful intellect. He studied in Berlin with Georg Walter before being drafted into the German army and taken prisoner by the British in Italy in 1945. After the war he resumed his studies, now with Hermann Weissenborn. He made his concert début in Brahms’s German Requiem at Freiburg in 1947 and his stage début the next year as Posa in Don Carlos, under Heinz Tietjen at the Städtische Oper, Berlin, where he then became a leading baritone. Also in 1948 he broadcast Winterreise on Berlin radio, and at Leipzig gave his first solo recital. In 1949 he began regular appearances at the Vienna Staatsoper and at the Bavarian Staatsoper, Munich, and in 1952 at the Salzburg Festival. He sang at the Bayreuth Festival, 1954–6, as the Herald (Lohengrin), Wolfram (a performance of outstanding nobility), Kothner and Amfortas. In 1961 he created the role of Mittenhofer in Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers at the Schwetzingen Festival. His first London appearance was in Delius’s A Mass of Life under Beecham in 1951. That, and his performances at Kingsway Hall of Die schöne Müllerin (which he then recorded for the first time with Gerald Moore) and his Winterreisethe following year, established his fame in Britain. Among his frequent return visits, two were particularly notable: the first performances of Britten’s War Requiem in 1962 in the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, and his Songs and Proverbs of William Blake (composed for Fischer-Dieskau) at the 1965 Aldeburgh Festival. That year he made his highly successful Covent Garden début as Mandryka in Arabella.
Some of Fischer-Dieskau’s most vivid roles, with the dates when he first sang them, were: Wolfram (1949), John the Baptist (Salome, 1952), Don Giovanni (1953), Busoni’s Faust (1955), Amfortas (1955), Count Almaviva (1956), Renato (1957), Falstaff (1959), Hindemith’s Mathis (1959), Wozzeck (1960), Yevgeny Onegin (1961), Barak (Die Frau ohne Schatten, 1963), Macbeth (1963), Don Alfonso (1972) and the title role in Reimann’s Lear (1978). He recorded many of these parts and in addition, most notably, both Olivier and the Count in different sets of Capriccio, Papageno (with Böhm), Kurwenal in the famous Furtwängler Tristan und Isolde, the Dutchman, and Wotan (in Karajan’s Das Rheingold). After much hesitation as to its suitability for his voice, he undertook the role of Hans Sachs at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, under Jochum in the 1975–6 season, and recorded it at the same time.
In spite of all this operatic activity, and a brief spell as a conductor in the early 1970s, Fischer-Dieskau’s greatest achievement was in lieder. His repertory consisted of more than 1000 songs, a feat unequalled by any other singer. He recorded all Schubert’s, Schumann’s and Wolf’s songs appropriate for a male singer, most of Beethoven’s, Brahms’s and Strauss’s songs, and many by Mendelssohn, Liszt and Loewe. He has also written books on Schubert and Schumann, compiled The Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder (London, 1976) and published a book of memoirs, Nachklang (Stuttgart, 1988; Eng. trans., as Echoes of a Lifetime, 1989). His interpretations set standards by which other performances were judged. They were based on command of rhythm, a perfect marriage of tone and words, an almost flawless technique and an unerring ability to impart the right colour and nuance to a phrase. He was sometimes criticized for giving undue emphasis to certain words and overloading climaxes. Though his Italian was excellent and his Count Almaviva, Don Giovanni, Posa, Iago and Falstaff were substantial achievements, he was probably at his happiest in German roles such as Busoni’s Faust, Wolfram, Kurwenal, Barak, Mandryka, Mathis and Wozzeck. Since his retirement from singing Fischer-Dieskau has taken up conducting again and has made a number of recordings with his wife, the soprano Julia Varady.
J.Demus and others: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Berlin, 1966)
K.Whitton: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Mastersinger (London, 1981)
H.A.Neunzig: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: eine Biographie (Stuttgart, 1995; Eng. trans., 1998)