Thomas Quasthoff

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Thomas Quasthoff, 2010

Thomas Quasthoff (born November 9, 1959 in Hildesheim ) is a German opera singer ( bass baritone ) and professor of singing at the "Hanns Eisler" University of Music in Berlin .


Childhood, education

Thomas Quasthoff was a thalidomide born damage and is therefore only 1.34 m tall. In the documentary The Dreamer (2004/05) Quasthoff describes how he had to spend his childhood under harassed circumstances in a camp-like residential pen for the severely disabled. With the help of his parents and his brother Michael , who was two years older than him , he escaped this isolation, they did not exclude him from any activity and let him take part in everyday life in a natural way. The father recognized his son's musical talent early on and, despite much resistance, persistently tried to make singing lessons possible for him. The music academy in Hanover rejected him because he could not play a second instrument due to his disability. In 1972, when he was 13 years old, he sang at the instigation of his father Sebastian Peschko , who was then head of the “Chamber Music and Song” department of the NDR Landesfunkhaus Niedersachsen in Hannover. Quasthoff had been given five minutes to do this - it turned into an hour and a half. This paved the way for vocal training, and in the same year he began studying singing with Charlotte Lehmann in Hanover . He learned music theory and music history from her husband Ernst Huber-Contwig .

After graduation Quasthoff studied six semesters Jura , then broke off his studies and spent six years in marketing at Kreissparkasse Hildesheim operates. During this period he appeared both as a jazz singer and with his cabaret program Lichte Momente , in which he shone with imitations of voices by politicians such as Willy Brandt , Helmut Kohl and Franz Josef Strauss . In 1980 he supported the Hanoverian musician and composer Michael Rietzke with his band "The Locals" and sang two pieces on his debut album. Quasthoff recorded his first LP with the title Vocal Spirit in 1986 for Edition Collage, on which jazz and gospel sounds dominate. From 1980 he worked as a radio presenter and speaker at the NDR Landesfunkhaus Hannover.


Thomas Quasthoff had his first major vocal performance on February 26, 1984. Manfred Ehrhorn, at that time musical director of the Braunschweig studio choir and professor at the Hanover University of Music and Theater, encouraged him to perform as bassist in Louis Spohr's The Last Things in Braunschweiger St Johannis Church , accompanied by the Braunschweig studio choir and members of the Helmstedt Bach Kantorei and the Braunschweig State Orchestra. In 1987 Quasthoff sang Mozart's Credo Mass as a soloist with the Limburger Domsingknaben .

In 1988 Quasthoff achieved his international breakthrough when he won the baritone vocal at the ARD International Music Competition . In 1994 he quit his position at NDR and started his own business as a freelance artist; he also gave singing lessons. In 1995 he performed the complete St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach in Israel together with the Windsbacher Boys Choir for the first time since World War II . In the following year he received a professorship for singing at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold , which he held until 2004, after which he moved to the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" Berlin . Lars Woldt is his student .

In 1998 Thomas Quasthoff made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York / USA with Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn . Since then he has performed in almost every major concert hall in the world. Initially he specialized in concert performances and art songs ; His interpretation of the song cycle Winterreise by Franz Schubert with the pianist Charles Spencer as an accompanist is considered outstanding . A recording of it was released in 1998. It followed in 2005 The beautiful miller's wife with Justus Zeyen as a companion. In the meantime Quasthoff was increasingly involved in opera performances . In 2003 he made his debut as Fernando in Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven during the Salzburg Easter Festival . He caused a sensation here, among other things, with the role of Amfortas in Parsifal by Richard Wagner in the Vienna State Opera .

In 2004 Quasthoff wrote his autobiography The Voice , and in 2006 he presented another autobiographical work, The Baritone , as a literary addition to the CD Beethoven, My Soul . In 2006 he recorded his first jazz album with Till Brönner , Alan Broadbent , Peter Erskine , Dieter Ilg and Chuck Loeb , which was released in 2007 ( The Jazzalbum - Watch what happens ). In October 2006 he announced his complete withdrawal from the opera stage in order to devote more time to his concerts and teaching. Since 2010 he has also been an ambassador for the Christoffel Mission for the Blind . In 2010 he also released his album Tell It Like It Is , on which he moves between the areas of soul , rhythm and blues and pop . His companions are u. a. Bruno Müller, Frank Chastenier , Dieter Ilg and Wolfgang Haffner . In October 2011 he announced that after a laryngitis, on the advice of his doctors, he would finally resign from the jazz stage and "no longer give concerts in this genre". On January 11, 2012 it was announced that he was finally retiring from the stage as a singer for health reasons.

From November 2012 Quasthoff was in Shakespeare's Was ihr wollt als Feste, Olivias Narr, on the stage of the Berliner Ensemble . In September 2013, the premiere of the cabaret program Keine Kunst by and with Quasthoff and Michael Frowin took place in the Haus der Berliner Wühlmäuse .


Quasthoff lives in Berlin and has been married to Claudia Quasthoff, who works as a television journalist for MDR , since 2006 .


Quasthoff since 2003 patron of the Foundation Children of Chernobyl in the country Lower Saxony .


Discography (selection)

Chart placements

year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
2006 The Mozart album DE36 (6 weeks)
AT26 (8 weeks)
2007 The Jazz Album - Watch What Happens DE17 (9 weeks)
AT50 (3 weeks)
2010 Tell It like It Is DE39

(5 weeks)DE
AT45 (6 weeks)
2016 A winter fairy tale - Christmas carols from Germany DE25 (5 weeks)
Sampler, a contribution: Bells never ring sweeter (with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg )
2018 Nice 'n' Easy DE32 (4 weeks)
AT35 (3 weeks)
with the NDR big band


  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Arias. Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn , Jörg Faerber, Sony BMG, September 1997 (Echo Prize 1998)
  • Krzysztof Penderecki: Credo. Oregon Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra, Helmuth Rilling . Hänssler, September 1998. (Grammy for the best choir performance of the year 2000 for Rilling)
  • Franz Schubert: Winter Journey . With Charles Spencer. BMG, October 1998.
  • Gustav Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn . Anne Sofie von Otter, Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado. Deutsche Grammophon, April 1999 (first Grammy).
  • Brahms and Liszt: songs. With Justus Zeyen. Deutsche Grammophon, February 2000 (nominated for a Grammy).
  • Schubert's Swan Song and Brahms' Four Serious Songs . With Justus Zeyen ( German Record Critics' Prize , 2001/3).
  • Schubert songs. With Anne Sofie von Otter, Chamber Orchestra of Europe , Claudio Abbado. Deutsche Grammophon, April 2003 (second Grammy).
  • Bach Cantatas : Solo recording, with the Berlin Baroque Soloists, members of the RIAS Chamber Choir, Rainer Kussmaul . Deutsche Grammophon, 2004 (third Grammy).
  • Franz Schubert: The beautiful miller . With Justus Zeyen. Deutsche Grammophon 2005.
  • Arnold Schönberg: Gurrelieder . Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle. EMI, April 2006.
  • Look at my soul. Staatskapelle Dresden , Sebastian Weigle . Deutsche Grammophon, 2006.
  • The Voice. Works by Brahms, Liszt, Lortzing, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Schubert, Weber, Heine, Rückert, Chezy. Deutsche Grammophon, May 2006.
  • Watch What Happens. The Jazz Album. Jazz standards, with Till Brönner. Deutsche Grammophon, March 2007.
  • Joseph Haydn: The Creation . Annette Dasch , Christoph Strehl, Austro-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Choir, Adam Fischer. DVD, Medici Arts, October 2009.
  • Tell It like It Is . Soul , R'n'B - and pop standards. Deutsche Grammophon, September 2010.
  • Nice'n'Easy . Jazz with the NDR big band . OKeh / Sony Music, May 2018.


“I would be a bad teacher if I could create an oasis of happiness for my students and they didn't have a clue of what to expect after college. From that point of view, I'm strict. "

- Thomas Quasthoff, 2005

“Many think that a disabled person has to suffer, be sad and desperate. But I am not at all. I have the desperation behind me, I am very life-affirming. And I try to make it easy for people to deal with me. "

- Thomas Quasthoff, 2005

"A soloist only has a chance if he is really good."

- Thomas Quasthoff, 2005

“There are 80 million disabled people in Germany. I have the advantage that you can tell. "

- Thomas Quasthoff

“I have no problem with it, even if people joke about me. [...] - I've learned to laugh at myself. "

- Thomas Quasthoff, 2007

“I know students who can do it better. Its charisma is also expandable. You can really see the effort in him. The art of singing great is that you just don't see the effort. Potts is, so to speak, the opposite of what I convey to my students. [...] I grant Potts the success from the bottom of my heart. [...] But now, please, nobody should pretend that a new classic star has been born. "

- Thomas Quasthoff on Paul Potts , 2008


  • Thomas Quasthoff: The Dreamer. Documentary, Germany, 2004/2005, 90 min., Director: Michael Harder, production: tryharder tvnetwork, Hamburg, synopsis with preview .
  • Germany, your artists. Thomas Quasthoff. Documentary, Germany, 2007/2008, 60 min., Director: Reinhold Jaretzky , production: Zauberberg Film, series: Germany, your artists , first broadcast: ARD , July 10, 2008, brief synopsis .


  • Thomas Quasthoff: The voice . Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 2004, 336 pages, ISBN 3-550-07590-1 , autobiography.
  • Thomas Quasthoff: The baritone . Henschel Verlag, Berlin 2006. ISBN 3-89487-545-3 .
  • Thomas Quasthoff: "Oh, listen with fear and horror". My breviary of the most beautiful ballads . Ullstein, Berlin 2007, ISBN 3-550-07886-2 .
  • Manuel Brug: The new singers' voices . Henschel Verlag, Berlin 2003.
  • Barry Singer: Fearless , in: Opera News , 67 (2003), pp. 14-18.
  • Hans Joachim Weber: Art. Quasthoff, Thomas , in: The music in past and present , person part 13, ed. by Ludwig Finscher . Bärenreiter u. Metzler, Kassel a. Stuttgart u. a. 2005, col. 1116, ISBN 3-7618-1133-0 .

Web links

Commons : Thomas Quasthoff  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Quasthoff biography in the IMDb
  2. Supplement to the DVD Thomas Quasthoff: The Dreamer. Documentary, Germany, 2004/2005, tgc advertising agency, Hamburg, tryharder tvnetwork, Hamburg, p. 4.
  3. Alain Pâris (ed.): Dictionnaire des interprètes et de l'interprétation musicale depuis 1900. Robert Laffont, coll. «Bouquins», Paris, 2004.
  4. Performances with Thomas Quasthoff at the Vienna State Opera
  5. Quasthoff says goodbye to jazz. ( Memento from October 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) In: Der Kurier .
  6. dpa : concert singer. Thomas Quasthoff ends his career . In: Zeit online , January 12, 2012.
    Singer Quasthoff ends his career . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , January 11, 2012.
  7. Gilles Chevalier: Thomas Quasthoff & Michael Frowin: "No Art". Liveundlustig , September 17, 2013, accessed August 22, 2014 .
  8. Franziska v. Mutius: Thomas Quasthoff is preparing the wedding . In: Berliner Morgenpost , May 15, 2006.
  9. Antje Harders: “Il Canto del Mondo” honors Thomas Quasthoff . In: Hamburger Abendblatt , May 10, 2006.
  10. Singer Thomas Quasthoff receives Karajan Music Prize 2009. ( Memento from March 23, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In: Kleine Zeitung , March 20, 2009.
  11. Thomas Quasthoff ( Memento of the original from May 9, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at (English).
  12. Baritone Thomas Quasthoff receives Praetorius Music Prize . In: neue musikzeitung , November 2, 2010.
  13. People and positions. In: rundblick / Nord-Report, Volume 2010, No. 113, Hanover, June 15, 2010, p. 3.
  14. Press release of the German Phono Academy from April 14, 2011
  15. Chart sources: Germany - Austria
  16. Gold / platinum database of the Federal Association of the Music Industry, accessed on May 29, 2016
  17. a b c Volker sheet: "Great I'm not sure." . In: Die Welt , February 17, 2005, interview.
  18. "I have learned to laugh at me." . Welt Online , October 1, 2007; Interview.
  19. Christoph Cadenbach: classic star Thomas Quasthoff: "Paul Potts makes Popsülze." . In: Spiegel Online , November 7, 2008, interview.