Franz Grundheber was began his studies at the Max-Planck-Gymnasium in Trier, graduating in 1959. He subsequently undertook three years in the Air Force of the Bundeswehr, went to officer school in Munich and was eventually stationed in Hamburg. After studying in Hamburg, he had further studies with a two-year scholarship at Indiana University in Bloomington (Indiana) with lessons with Margot Harshaw and one summer at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
Franz Grundheber was engahed in 1966 at the Hamburg State Opera. He was a member of her ensemble until 1988 and continued his ongoing active tieds with this opera house afterwards. Grundheber has performed there 150 roles, including 75 first performances, and participated in ten world premieres. For forty years of performing on stage he became an honorary member of the House. At the Wiener Staatsoper, he made his debut on December 11, 1976 as Figaro in W.A. Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. There, too, he is still active as a singer in many roles. He performed at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1983 as Mandryka in Arabella; at the Salzburg Festival in 1985 as Olivier in Capriccio. Other roles include W.A. Mozart's Masetto and Guglielmo, Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier, and Escamillo. In 1989 he appeared at the Salzburg and Savonnlina Festivals as Orestes and Amonasro. He sang Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Holland Festival in 1990.
His career has led Franz Grundheber to all the major opera houses in the world, including Munich, Los Angeles, Bastille Opéra, Arena di Verona, Milanís La Scala, Londonís Covent Garden, Berlin, Rome, New Yorkís Metropolitan Opera (Debut: 1999 in Rigoletto), Santiago de Chile (Chilean Critics' Award 2001 for International Opera), Tokyo Opera Nomori, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Aalto Theater Essen, Staatstheater Karlsruhe. Hae has worked inter alia together with the conductors: Herbert von Karajan, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Seiji Ozawa, Colin Davis, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Karl Sollak, Claudio Abbado, Semyon Bychkov, Daniel Barenboim, Simone Young, Riccardo Muti, Fabio Luisi, Justin Brown.
Franz Grundheber has a wide ranging repertoire that ranges from the bel canto of the verismo operas to modern composers. Of the roles with which he achieved world fame and where he feels particularly attached (an interview in Klassik heute in February 2010) are: Wozzeck, Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten and Simon Boccanegra, as well as Germont in La Traviata, Rigoletto, Macbeth, Iago in Otello, Amonasro in Aida, Amfortas in Parsifal, Der fliegende Holländer, Scarpia in Tosca, Jochanaan in Salome, Orest in Elektra, and Dr. Schön in Lulu.
Franz Grundheber lives with his second wife Angelika in Hamburg-Rissen. Despite his international career, he has remained connected to his hometown. In the 2003-2004 season he appeared as Scarpia at the Stadttheater Trier. In the 2005-2006 season was seen there in Richard Wagner's Fliegendem Holländer . In 2007 he made his debut there as a director and directed Alban Berg's Wozzeck, which he also sang in several performances. He is also regularly available for choir concerts in his hometown. He has special connections to the choirs of the Trierer Stadtteile Trier-Biewer and Trier-Ehrang. He is also associated with his adopted city of Hamburg. He supported the choir there Kantorei Sülldorf / Rissen and on November 11-12, 2006 participated in a performance of Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn.
His recordings include: Don Giovanni (Electrola); Doktor Faust by Ferruccio Busoni (Deutsche Grammophon); Die drei Pintos by Weber/Gustav Mahler (RCA).