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Reinhold Oskar Gerhardt (Baritone)

Born: December 7, 1892 - Leipzig, Germany
Died: April 4, 1975 - London, England

The German baritone, Reinhold Oskar Gerhardt, was the youngest of a large and musical family. He was the son of a Leipzig manufacturer and the younger brother of the famous concert and Lieder singer Elena Gerhardt (1884-1961). Hie early education was at the Thomasgymnasium and he was a member of the Thomaschor as befits one who was later to acquire such authority as an interpreter of Bach. He studied from 1912 to 1914 with Karl Scheidemantel in Dresden, however immediately after was drafted to a military service in World War I. After the end of the war he studied with K. von Zawilowski in Berlin.

After a brief skirmisch with legal studies at the University of Jena, Reinhold Gerhardt took up a carreer as a professional singer, inspired by the example of his celebrated sister. He had a successful activity as concert and oratorio singer, and, like his sister, was also a great Lieder interpreter. He appeared until 1940 on the concert podium.

Since 1920 Reinhold Gerhardt had in addition an educational actively, first at the Konservatorium of Jena, since 1921 at the Thringischen Landeskonservatorium (Thuringian National Conservatory) in Erfurt and from 1936 to 1948 at the Konservatorium of Leipzig. In 1925 he married the opera soprano singer, Claire Schultheß (Clara Hansen-Schultes), and proved a loving father to her two sons by a previous marriage. They lived in Leipzig.

After the World War II, his sister Elena, who had lost her husband, invited him and his wife in 1948 to join her in London. Reinhold and Claire lived at flat 6, Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, London. His reputation had preceded him and Edric Cundell, the then Principal of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, promptly signed him up as a Professor of Singing at the School, where he was to remain active until the end, attracting the love and respect of all who knew him. His amazing willpower triumphed over emphysema, among other ills, in his later years and he survived both his wife and sister; to the end of his life he was able to produce a pure singing tone even when he could hardly snatch breath.

Perhaps because of his own difficulties in breathing, Reinhold Gerhardt attached great importance to a mastery of the breath in his pupils. But this was only one instance of a vital principle which never dimmed.

Source: Operissimo Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2005); Obituary in The Times (London; April 7, 1975)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2005); Rainer Daxl (grandson of Claire Gerhardt-Schulthess; January 2009)

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