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Lotte Lehmann

Lotte Lehmann in Beethoven's Fidelio

Charlotte "Lotte" Lehmann (February 27, 1888 – August 26, 1976) was a German soprano who was especially associated with German repertory. She gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Puccini, Mozart, and Massenet. The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Sieglinde in Die Walküre and the title-role in Fidelio are considered her greatest roles. During her long career, Lehmann also made more than five hundred recordings.[1] Her performances in the world of Lieder are considered among the best ever recorded.


  • Life and career 1
  • Death 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Works 4
  • Recordings 5
  • Notes 6
  • Sources 7
  • External links 8

Life and career

Lehmann was born in Perleberg, Province of Brandenburg. In 1926 she married Otto Krause, who died in 1939.

After studying in Il Tabarro. In her 21 years with the company, Lehmann sang more than fifty different roles at the Vienna State Opera, including Marie/Marietta in Die tote Stadt, the title-roles in La Juive by Fromental Halévy, Mignon by Ambroise Thomas, and Manon by Jules Massenet, Charlotte in Werther, Marguerite in Faust, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin and Lisa in The Queen of Spades. In the meantime she had made her debut in London in 1914, and from 1924 to 1935 she performed regularly at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where aside from her famous Wagner roles and the Marschallin she also sang Desdemona in Otello and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1937, performing with Arturo Toscanini, among other conductors. She also gave recitals there accompanied at the piano by the conductor Bruno Walter. In August 1936, while in Salzburg, she discovered the Trapp Family Singers, later made famous in the musical The Sound of Music. Lehmann had heard of a villa available for let and as she approached the villa she overheard the family singing in their garden. Insisting the children had a precious gift, she exclaimed that the family had "gold in their throats" and that they should enter the Salzburg festival contest for group singing the following night. Having regard to the family's aristocratic background the Baron insisted performing in public was out of the question, however Lehmann's fame and genuine enthusiasm persuaded the Baron to relent, leading to their first public performance. [2]

On the cover of Time magazine
February 18, 1935

In 1930, Lehmann made her American debut in Chicago as Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre. She returned to the United States every season and also performed several times in South America. Before Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Lehmann emigrated to the United States (because her stepchildren had a Jewish mother).[3] There, she continued to sing at the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera until 1945.

In addition to her operatic work, Lehmann was a renowned singer of lieder, giving frequent recitals throughout her career. She recorded and toured with pianist Ernö Balogh in the 1930s. Beginning with her first recital tour to Australia in 1937, she worked closely with the accompanist Paul Ulanowsky. He remained her primary accompanist for concerts and master classes until her retirement fourteen years later.[4]

She also made a foray into film acting, playing the mother of Danny Thomas in Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, which she helped found in 1947. She also gave master classes in New York City (at the Manhattan School of Music), Chicago, London, Vienna, and other cities. For her contribution to the recording industry, Lehmann has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1735 Vine St. However, her first name is misspelled there as “Lottie”.

She was a prolific author, publishing a book of poems Verse in Prosa in the early 1920s, a novel, Orplid, mein Land in 1937, which appeared in English as Eternal Flight in 1937, and a book of memoirs, Anfang und Aufstieg (1937), which later appeared as On Wings of Song in the U.K. in 1938 and as Midway in My Song in the U.S. in 1938. She also published volumes on the interpretation of song and the interpretation of opera roles. Later books included Five Operas and Richard Strauss, known as Singing with Richard Strauss in the U.K., a second book of poems in 1969, and Eighteen Song Cycles in 1971, consisting of material drawn largely from earlier works.

Lehmann was an active painter, especially in her retirement. Her painting included a series of twenty-four illustrations in tempera for each song of Schubert's Winterreise.[5]


German stamp with a portrait of Lotte Lehmann

Lehmann died in 1976 at the age of 88 in Santa Barbara, California. She is interred in the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.[6] Her headstone is inscribed with a quote from Richard Strauss: "Sie hat gesungen, dass es Sterne ruehrte" (She sang, and the stars moved).


Lehmann helped establish the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, where there is a hall named for her.

The Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara was also named in her honor.

The Lotte Lehmann Collection at the UCSB Library's Special Collections contains Lehmann's recordings, papers, photos, etc.

A collection of manuscripts, photos and recordings called the Gary Hickling Collection on Lotte Lehmann is housed at the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound at Stanford University.

The bulk of Lehmann's private recordings is held at the Miller Nichols Library Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Lehmann's friend Hertha Schuch willed her large collection (now in 18 boxes) of Lehmann recordings, correspondence, photos, etc. to the Austrian Theatre Museum in Vienna (Österreichisches Theatermuseum, Wien).

The Lotte Lehmann Foundation was established in 1995 to preserve and perpetuate Lotte Lehmann's legacy and at the same time to bring art song into the lives of as many people as possible. It ceased activity in 2011. In 2011, the Lotte Lehmann League developed a website in her honor.[7]

In her native town, Perleberg, an academy for young opera singers in her name was established in 2009. At the Lotte Lehmann Akademie,[8] a world-class faculty with two of Lotte Lehmann’s most celebrated master students – Kammersängerin Karan Armstrong and Kammersänger Thomas Moser – prepare emerging opera singers and advanced students for the requirements of a career in Europe and the German repertoire system.

Lotte Lehmann had no children. She was step-mother to her husband Otto Krause's children.


  • Eighteen song cycles: studies in their interpretation (London: Cassell, 1971)
  • Eternal Flight, translated by Elsa Krauch (NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1937)
  • Five operas and Richard Strauss. (New York, Macmillan Co. [1964]
  • Midway in my Song: The Autobiography of Lotte Lehmann (NY: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1938)
  • More Than Singing: The Interpretation of Songs (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1945)
  • My Many Lives (NY: Boosey & Hawkes, 1948)


  • Great voices of the century[9]


  1. ^ "Lotte Lehmann Discography", accessed February 21, 2013
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Paul Ulanowsky: A Life in Music", accessed March 18, 2010
  5. ^ Lee Stern Who is who in music: A complete presentation of the contemporary …1951 ; one, “Der Lindenbaum,” can be found on the cover of A Yiddish Winterreise Naxos 8.572256
  6. ^
  7. ^ lottelehmannleague.or
  8. ^
  9. ^


  • Nigel Douglas, Legendary Voices (London: Deutsch, 1992)
  • Beaumont Glass, Lotte Lehmann: A Life in Opera and Song (Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1988)
  • Alan Jefferson, Lotte Lehmann, 1888-1976: A Centenary Biography (London : J. MacRae Books, 1988); German version: Lotte Lehmann: Eine Biographie (1991)
  • Michael H. Kater, Never Sang for Hitler: The Life and Times of Lotte Lehmann (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • Berndt Wilhelm Wessling, Lotte Lehmann: "Sie sang, dass es Sterne rührte": eine Biographie (Köln-Rodenkirchen: P.J. Tonger, 1995)

External links

  • The Lotte Lehmann Akademie, Perleberg - Summer Institute for young opera singers preparing for a career in Europe and the German repertoire theatres
  • Lotte Lehmann papers at the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.
  • Lotte Lehmann sings Schubert's "An die Musik" (Shockwave required) in hypermedia presentation at the BinAural Collaborative Hypertext (BACH)
  • Lotte Lehmann master class (1961) on YouTube
  • l Recording of "Klänge der Heimat: Csàrdàs" by Lotte Lehmann
  • Gary Hickling Collection on Lotte Lehmann, Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound

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