Obituary: Josef Greindl

Josef Greindl, singer: born Munich 23 December 1912; died Vienna 16 April 1993.

ON THE FIRST evening of my first visit to the Salzburg Festival in 1951, I attended Die Zauberflote in the Felsenreitschule. The performance was conducted by Furtwangler and although the fabulous cast included Irmgard Seefried, Anton Dermota and Erich Kunz, the singer who impressed most was the bass Josef Greindl, whose large, deep and resonant voice exuded wisdom, authority and benevolence as Sarastro. That the same voice could express evil, hatred and contempt with equal conviction, I discovered at Bayreuth the following year, when as Hagen in Gotterdammerung he electrified the audience with the power of his singing as he summoned the Gibichung Vassals.

Sarastro and Hagen demonstrated the extreme limits of Greindl's wide repertory. He sang many parts, both serious and comic, that lay somewhere between. As Hans Sachs, the role of his Covent Garden debut in 1963, he brought out the human warmth, humour and native wit of the cobbler while his Rocco in Fidelio, which he also sang at Covent Garden, was acutely presented as a jovial rogue with an eye on the main chance. This power of characterisation easily compensated for a certain lack of intrinsic beauty in his black-toned voice.

Greindl was born in Munich, where he studied at the Academy of Music with Paul Bender and Anna Bahr-Mildenburg, both famous Wagnerian singers. In 1935, while still a student, he sang in a performance of Der Freischutz in Munich, making his professional debut in 1936 at Krefeld as Hunding in Die Walkure. In 1942 he joined the Berlin Staatsoper, moving in 1948 to the Stadtische Oper (later the Deutsche Oper) on the west side of the city. Here he remained until 1970 singing, as well as the Wagner bass repertory, Mozart's Sarastro, Osmin and the Commendatore, Kecal in The Bartered Bride, Schigolch in Lulu and, in 1959, Moses in the first German stage performance of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron.

Meanwhile, having first sung at Bayreuth in 1943, as Pogner in Die Meistersinger, Greindl returned after the war and continued to appear there for nearly two decades, as Hagen, Gurnemanz, King Mark, Daland, the Wanderer in Siegfried and in other parts. At Salzburg he created roles in Carl Orff's Antigone in 1949 and the same composer's De temporum fine comoedia in 1973.

He sang at the Metropolitan during the 1952-53 season, at the Paris Opera, at La Scala, Milan - where between 1951 and 1961 he sang Gurnemanz, Pogner, Hagen, King Mark and Schoenberg's Moses - and all the leading German and Austrian opera houses.

From 1961 Greindl taught at Saarbrucken, then in 1973, having retired from the stage, he became professor of singing at the Vienna Conservatory. He made many recordings and virtually all his Wagner roles can be heard in live performances. His Sarastro, Rocco, Osmin and Schigolch are also captured on disc, giving some idea of the breadth of this fine singer's artistic sympathies.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine