Born: September 1, 1906 - Roskilde (near Copenhagen), Denmark
Died: April 19, 1975 - Copenhagen, Denmark
The famous Danish tenor, baritone, and pedagogue, Aksel (Hauch) Schiøtz, was born in Roskilde near Copenhagen. His father was an architect, and he urged Aksel to follow an academic career. Accordingly, he enrolled at the University of Copenhagen in modern languages studies, receiving M.A. in 1929, and became a teacher. Schiøtz had a fine tenor voice, which he loved to display at parties and in church. Mogens Wöldike, a choral conductor, made him a tenor member of the “Copenhagen Male Choir” and he was soon entrusted with oratorio solos. He studied singing, first at the Danish Royal Opera School in Copenhagen with Agnete Zacharias and Valdemar Lincke, and later in Stockholm with John Forsell, who was the teacher of Jussi Björling. Schiøtz married in 1931.
Aksel Schiøtz gave his first song recital in 1936 (or 1938 according to Baker’s). His operatic debut followed in 1939 as Ferrando in Così fan tutte at the Royal Danish Theater in Copenhagen, and he soon gained wide recognition as a Mozartean and as a Lieder artist. In 1938 he was discovered by the recording company His Master’s Voice. In 1940 Denmark was seized by Hitler. International activities had to be postponed. Because of his successful recordings, he became one of the best-loved classical singers. He appeared in opera and operetta and gave recitals all over the country. In 1946 he made appearances in England. He was invited to record Die schöne Müllerin and Dichterliebe with Gerald Moore. He also appeared in the first performances of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne opposite Kathleen Ferrier. He also sang film-songs and in musicals. In 1948 he visited the USA.
In 1946 Aksel Schiøtz survived a tumour of the acoustic nerve which had to be operated, but it left the right hand side of his face partly paralysed. He succeeded by sheer will-power to sing in a comeback recital in 1948. His career was tragically haled when he developed a brain tumour in 1950, which led to an impairment of his speech. However, he regained his capacities as a singer and gave concerts as a baritone.
In 1955 Aksel Schiøtz entered a new career as a teacher for singing, and was highly regarded as an excellent one. From 1955 to 1958 he taught voice at the University of Minnesota; from 1958 to 1961 he was a professor of voice at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto; from 1961 to 1968, at the University of Colorado; and from 1968 at the Royal Danish School of Educational Studies in Copenhagen. He also gave master classes in the USA.
In 1977 a memorial fund was formed in the USA to preserve the memory of Aksel Schiøtz by grating scholarship in art songs. He published The Singer And His Art (New York, 1969).