Karl Ridderbusch

29.05.1932 - 21.06.1997


Karl Ridderbusch (29 May, 1932 - 21 June, 1997) was a German operatic bass.

Ridderbusch was born in Recklinghausen, Germany, and was discovered by the tenor Rudolf Schock, having previously planned to be an engineer. After studying in Duisburg and Essen, he made his debut at Münster in 1961. Ridderbusch's next post was in Essen where he began to perform roles by Verdi, Strauss and Wagner. In 1965, he joined the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, where he was based for the rest of his career.

Ridderbusch had a powerful rich voice which spanned two octaves, allowing him to add bass-baritone roles to pure bass parts. He also had a formidable stage presence.

Although he sang roles such as Seneca in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Boris Godunov and Falstaff, it is with the Austro-German repertoire and, above all, the works of Wagner with which Ridderbusch is most associated. He made his Bayreuth Festival debut in 1967. Between then and his departure in 1977, Ridderbusch sang the roles of Henry the Fowler in Lohengrin, Fasolt, Fafner, Hunding, and Hagen in the Ring, Pogner and Hans Sachs in the Mastersingers, Daland in The Flying Dutchman, Titurel in Parsifal and King Mark in Tristan und Isolde.

Ridderbusch appeared at many of the world's major opera houses, including La Scala (from 1966), Metropolitan Opera (1967), the Vienna State Opera (1968), the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1971). He performed in Karajan's production of the Ring at the Salzburg Easter Festival and subsequent recordings. He also sang Hans Sachs at the 1974 and 1975 Salzburg Easter Festivals.

His buffo roles included Ochs (Der Rosenkavalier) and Bartolo (The Marriage of Figaro). Although he was successful in these, it was the dramatic roles which he excelled. Examples outside the Wagnerian repertory are Rocco (Fidelio), the Commendatore (Don Giovanni) and Caspar (Der Freischütz).

Ridderbusch also sang lieder and operetta. He was honoured as a Kammersänger by the Wiener Staatsoper in 1978. He died in Wels, Austria, of heart and liver problems after being discharged from hospital by his second wife. He had three children.

Several of Karl Ridderbusch's studio recordings were in collaboration with Karajan. These include the Ring, Mastersingers, Tristan and Bach's Mass in B minor. Karl Böhm was another frequent studio partner. Their recordings together include Strauss's Capriccio, Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Mozart's Requiem. Other studio collaborations include the Saint Matthew Passion with Harnoncourt, Leonore with Herbert Blomstedt and Bruckner's Mass in D minor with Eugen Jochum.

Recordings from the Bayreuth Festival include Mastersingers under both Böhm and Silvio Varviso, Dutchman under Böhm, Lohengrin under both Rudolf Kempe and Alberto Erede and Parsifal under both Pierre Boulez and Jochum. Live recordings also exist of Ridderbusch singing another role with which he is associated - that of Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier.

The Karl Ridderbusch: a portrait album displayed the singer in a variety of repertoire but may be difficult to obtain.

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Composers' compositions