Franz Völker

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Franz Völker (born March 31, 1899 in Neu-Isenburg , † December 5, 1965 in Darmstadt ) was a German opera singer ( tenor ).


The parents of Franz Friedrich Völker (that's his full name) were the pale Christian Wilhelm Völker and his wife Katharina Louise nee. Schickedanz. As a child and adolescent, Völker performed as a soloist in concerts. After graduating from high school, Völker first decided to do a banking apprenticeship, which he completed in 1917 at Disconto-Gesellschaft in Frankfurt am Main . He then worked there as a bank clerk . In addition, he worked as a choir singer.

In 1925 Völker took part in an amateur competition organized by the still young Frankfurter Rundfunk and took first place. With the tenor aria "Freundlich I look at this and that" from Verdi's opera Rigoletto , he sang himself in the audience's favor. Now different opera stages became aware of Franz Völker. Völkers further vocal training took over the singing teacher Alexander Wellig , who had already trained the baritone Heinrich Schlusnus . In 1926 Völker gave up his position as a bank clerk and signed a five-year contract with the Frankfurt Municipal Theaters . In November of the same year he had his much-noticed stage debut in the role of Florestan in Beethoven's " Fidelio ". From then on, the star of Franz Völkers rose rapidly.

In 1931 Völker followed his patron Clemens Krauss to the Vienna State Opera , and in 1935 he joined the ensemble of the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden . The peak of his singing career marked the appearance at the Bayreuth Festival in the years 1933 to 1942. The Wagner tenor Völker set the singing standards, especially in the roles of Lohengrin and Siegmund in Die Walküre .

Other important roles: Erik ( The Flying Dutchman ), Max ( Der Freischütz ), Kaiser ( The Woman Without a Shadow ), Pedro ( Tiefland ), Radames ( Aida ), Othello , Canio ( Bajazzo ), Ferrando ( Così fan tutte ). In the period from 1931 to 1934 Völker was also a participant in the Salzburg Festival . Völker emerged as a song interpreter together with the pianist Sebastian Peschko . After the Second World War , Franz Völker was engaged at the Munich State Opera . In 1952 he ended his stage career and worked primarily as a singing teacher in the years up to his death.

The Franz-Völker-Kreis eV , founded in 1987 in his hometown Neu-Isenburg, awards the Franz-Völker-Preis for young tenors every several years . In 2005, the Franz Völker Circle was reorganized into the Franz Völker - Anny Schlemm Society .


Franz Völkers tenor voice, which combined lyrical and heroic elements, was best used in the Wagner roles of Siegmund and Lohengrin (in 1936 he sang the extremely seldom heard extended Grail narrative at the Bayreuth Festival ). The voice was very balanced, especially in the middle register. The range ended in the high Bb, which hardly led to any restrictions with regard to Völkers repertoire, nevertheless, especially in the later recordings, higher notes sometimes sound pressed. Völkers legato culture has been widely praised, and it is particularly evident in his song recordings.

Especially in the first decade of his vocal career (1927–1937), which was documented by sound recordings, Völkers voice had an extremely round, pithy sound, which knew how to alternate masterfully between lyrical passages and heroic attacks. (Reference recordings here form, for example, the interpretation of “I gladly kissed the women” from Franz Lehár'sPaganini ” from 1928 with an incomparable mezzavoce, as well as excerpts from Richard Wagner'sDie Walküre ” from 1936 and 1937).

Franz Völker sang exclusively in German. Thanks to the lively publishing activity of the Franz-Völker-Anny-Schlemm-Gesellschaft, most of Völkers recordings from the entertainment sector are now available, which present Völkers voice in top form, especially in the Rheinliedern songs that were popular at the time. They show him as an adequate interpreter of a genre that is hardly known today.

If you are looking for a tenor voice with comparable characteristics, Völkers contemporary Marcel Wittrisch (1901–1955) is most likely to be mentioned.

Record recordings

The artistic work of Franz Völkers is well documented over almost his entire singing career, with the focus of the sound recordings in the years 1927 to 1945. In addition to some complete recordings such as Lohengrin, his opera and operetta repertoire is available on several CD recitals.

The CDs published by the Franz Völker - Anny Schlemm Society focus on art song and entertainment (late 1920s / early 1930s) as well as opera and operetta recordings that have not been released on CD:

  • Franz Völker - From the Rhine to the Danube
  • Franz Völker - Once upon a time there was a spring dream
  • Franz Völker - O home mine
  • Franz Völker - Past Time
  • Franz Völker - there are many songs
  • Franz Völker - The Troubadour as a short opera
  • Franz Völker - The bat as a short operetta
  • Franz Völker - I thank you
  • Franz Völker - O beautiful time

Web links

Individual evidence