The German-born contralto, Maria Philippi, began her singing studies in 1895 at the Conservatory of Basel with Emil Hegar, then studied with Julius Stockhausen in Frankfurt a.M. and with Pauline Viardot-Garcia in Paris.
Maria Philippi made her debut as concert alto singer in 1901. She dedicated herself exclusively to the oratorio and Lieder singing and not appeared on the stage. She was admired particularly as ingenious Bach and Mozart interpreter. Concert tours brought her big successes in Germany and Austria, Holland and Switzerland, France and Italy, Russia and England. In 1901, 1925 and 1926 she gave concerts in Berlin, in 1907 in Vienna, in 1927 in Paris. In 1912 she created in Prague Gustav Mahler's Lied von der Erde. She was considered as outstanding interpreter of the Lieder of Othmar Schoeck, some of which she premiered. In 1924 she sang in Basel solo in the premiere of H. Suter's Le Laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi.
In addition Maria Philippi was a highly-esteemed teacher. From 1925 to 1936 she worked as Professor at the Musikhochschule of Köln; since 1936 she lived in Zürich.Among her pupils were the sopranos Walburga Wegner and Helene Fahrni, and the altos Lore Fischer and Hildegard Hennecke.
Maria Philippi's beautiful alto voice, admired for its splendour, as well as the stylistic balance of her production, is documented only on some Vox recordings.