aus der Opernwelt 5/2000

Stephan Moesch reviews Dietrich Fischer-Dieskaus latest book, TIME OF A

Fischer-Dieskau's New Book

Bitter and polemical tones are also not foreign to Fischer-Dieskau's new book; here, however, they have personal overtones. "My artistic achievement (....) has almost never been appreciated as it deserved to be," he says on page 133. The number of his "opponents, who, for understandable reasons, have never been in short supply" has "doubled and tripled in recent years" (page 137).In fact, he has "always felt himself to be a stranger in this time" (page 157). There is no doubt: Fischer-Dieskau is honest in this book, which, unlike REVERBERATIONS, published twelve years ago, is focused less on his career and personal encounters and more
on his inner feelings. He describes and delimits what preys on his mind, what makes him angry, what in retrospect satisfies him or what doesn't. He sets matters straight, and calls critics and orchestras to account. He writes about eroticism, the aging process in men and women, about bad memories on the occasion of New Year's Eve fireworks, about "classic radio" and the autonomous work of art, the Tegernsee, and being inarticulate before a group of people ("In front of an audience I become more stupid than the stupidest person in the audience.") In short, he doesn't spare himself or his readers either.

This book becomes important when it deals with art, whose greatness Fischer-Dieskau defines as "the overcoming of isolation" (page 96). His instructions for conducting are a significant complement to those of Richard Strauss, and whenever he deals with musical experience it is in a deeply felt and precisely formulated way. Fischer-Dieskau has no intention of dispelling contradictions, especially those of his own character. On the contrary, he exposes them mercilessly, and thereby approaches as an author the same radicality that characterized him as a singer: "What's the point of a work of art if it isnt demanding? Either it is demanding or it is just perfume" (page 125). Fischer-Dieskau's achievements don't need to
be cataloged here again, firstly because the singer expressed himself in the pages of the 1995 yearbook of this journal with such uncharacteristic candor and completeness that not much new can be added to it, and secondly because the CDs that are supposed to be issued in commemoration of his birthday hadn't yet appeared in their entirety at the time of publication of this article. They will be considered in a later issue.

Translation by © Celia A. Sgroi, May 2000.