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Hans Hotter (Bass-Baritone)
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions


See: Hans Hotter – Short Biography

Death of Hans Hotter

Richard Loeb wrote (December 11, 2003):
Yes I have heard that he passed away. His was a career noted for every excellence except that of sheer vocal perfection - the voice could become wobbly and woofy. But what a supreme artist he was - in my mind he leaves every recorded Wotan in the dust except Schorr and even Schorr cannot touch his feeling for words and mood. I listened to his Narration from Walküre Act II a passage that can put most audiences to sleep - with Hotter we are fixed in every word, follow every transition as he sings with all the experience of a great Lieder singer. On commercial recordings he really cannot be approched in this regard by London, Stewart or Morris as fine as they are and next to Hotter, someone like Frantz is prosaic indeed.

Unfortunately, he was the last of the artists who sang during the Golden age of Wagner singing. I am sorry he is dead but rejoice in the great lagacy he left us.

Scott Kurtz wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Richard Loeb] This is certainly a post to be of interest to Ken B. Lane. But then again, when has Ken ever responded to a post of anyone other than himself?

Mazzolata wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Richard Loeb] I have no interest in Wagner whatsoever, but I do love Mr. Hotter's "Ich Habe Genug" (BWV 82).

Sol L. Siegal wrote (December 11, 2003):
< I am sorry he is dead but rejoice in the great legacy he left us. >
He, not F-D, was my imprint singer in Schubert.

La Virtuosa wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Richard Loeb] It's eerie, but just recently I had a sudden desire to send for, and
have been listening to, his 1962 Bayreuth Parsifal with Knappertsbusch.

Ramon Khalona wrote (December 11, 2003):
Very sad news, but he lived a very long life filled with many successes. He recorded my favorite Winterreise (the wartime recording with Raucheisen). I think I will listen to his 'Lindenbaum' before I turn in tonight.

Bob Harper wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Ramon Khalona] I had the opportunity to hear him once, in 1970, as Don Fernando in 'Fidelio' at the Bayerische Staatsoper. The voice, by then, was a pale shadow of what it had been, but the presence was remarkable. I don't know how tall he was, but he looked like a giant dressed all in white, and dominated the stage during his brief appearance. I realize that's what Don F. should do, but this was special.

Fred Maroth wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Bob Harper] Music & Arts in collaboration with Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv in Frankfurt will release in Spring 2004 a 2 CD set of 1942/44 recordings of Lieder sung by Hotter(19 of them previously unissued) from the "Raucheisen project" -- an enormous collection of wartime song recordings featuring numerous German singers with Michael Raucheisen, pianist.

Roland van Gaalen wrote (December 11, 2003):
[To Ramon Khalona] Wonderful choice.

Edward A. Cowan wrote (December 12, 2003):
[To Fred Maroth] I'm delighted to know of this.

FWIW, I think the entire Raucheisen project needs to be reissued on CD. I have some of the sizable LP sets from Acanta in this series, but I'm missing some important items. (There seems not to have been boxes of Schubert and Schumann songs...)

Please advise us here when this item is published.

Sorach wrote (December 12, 2003):
[To Richard Loeb] Let's celebrate his recording legacy before the "best of" industry scavengers get on to it. What are your favorites? Which was his best Wotan? Can I have a suggestion for a Beethoven 9 by him.


1. Wintereise Moore (yet to hear Music & Arts Rauchisen)
2. Clemens Krauss Bayreuth 1953

Don Tait wrote (December 13, 2003):
[To Bob Harper] I saw him at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1961 as Don Pizzaro, not Don Fernando. He was dressed entirely in black. When he strode on stage in Act I, so tall and imposing, it was electrifying. He dominated everything (in a cast that included Nilsson and Irmgard Seefried in that act). As Act I ended, Hotter walked to the front of the stage, placed his legs apart, and put his hands on his hips facing the audience. His black cape spread out by his sides. He looked for all the world like an implacable bat of evil, towering over the entire stage - and the drama - as the music died away and the curtain slowly closed. It was one of the most overwhelming things I've ever seen or probably ever shall. In my experience, only Tito Gobbi had such overwhelming stage presence (well, Anja Silja and Schwarzkopf too).

Hotter sang after his voice no longer represented what he could do when young (his recordings from the '30s and '40s demonstrate that), but I agree that the nobility of his later performances - for me, personally only - provides great rewards. But again, this is purely personal.

Hotter's performance as the Speaker in Solti's 1971 or '72 CSO performances of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron - in English - were unforgettable too. Other members of this group surely heard him more often.

Philip Peters wrote (December 14, 2003):
Ramon Khalona wrote: < Very sad news, but he lived a very long life filled with many successes. He recorded my favorite Winterreise (the wartime recording with Raucheisen). I think I will listen to his 'Lindenbaum' before I turn in tonight. >
There are two wartime Winterreises with Raucheisen.

Ramon Khalona wrote (December 14, 2003):
[To Philip Peters] Yes; '42, '43 and the DG hybrid that is a combination of the two. It doesn't matter. Either one will do.

Hans Hotter obit

David Gable wrote (December 12, 2003):
The Guardian's obituary for Hans Hotter is here:,2763,1105315,00.html

Hans Hotter died

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 13, 2003):
The great German bass-baritone, Hans Hotter has passed away on December 8,
2003, aged 94.
An obituary of him can be read at the Guardian Website:,3604,1105244,00.html
A short biography of him can be found at the following page of the BCW: Hans Hotter (Bass-Baritone) – Short Biography

Although his reputation has been built mainly in the opera field (he was especially renowned for his Wagnerian roles), Hans Hotter should forever be remembered among Bach lovers for his only recording of a Bach Cantata, 'Ich habe Genug' BWV 82, recorded 53 years ago. IMO, and I am not the only one holding this view, his rendition is the most moving performance of this cantata ever recorded, and among the cornerstones of every Bach Cantatas collection. If you are not familiar yet with this recording, go and get one.

Charles Francis wrote (December 13, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] Sad news, indeed. I completely agree with your comments below.

Philippe Bareille wrote (December 13, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] I intended to send a similar message but Aryeh was quicker. Hans Hotter was more renowned for his interpretation of Schubert (memorable Der Winterreise!) and Wagner where he excelled in the role of Wotan. I agree with Aryeh that his account of the sublime, grief-laden BWV 82 is a moment of sheer beauty, humanity and grace especially the second aria. His technique is flawless. His big voice combines flexibility, sensitivity and power with unfailing attention to the text. Although the orchestra is far less convincing (to "modern" ears), this recording has a timeless quality to be treasured.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 14, 2003):
Here is Peter Branscombe’s assessment of Hotter’s singing as contained in the New Grove (Oxford University Press, 2003):
>>During the 1950s and 1960s he was generally recognized as the world's leading Wagnerian bass-baritone, renowned especially as Hans Sachs and as Wotan, embodying tgrandeur of Wagner's conception in a style at once rhetorical and noble. Though his voice could be unsteady and lack focus, its unmistakable quality, matched by his intense declamation and his commanding physical presence, made him one of the greatest operatic artists of the mid-20th century.<<

>>He was also a distinguished concert and recital artist; his retirement from the operatic stage in 1972 was not accompanied by a reduction in his other activities. An artist of intelligence and dedication, he was able without loss of quality to reduce his warm, ample voice to convey the intimacy and subtlety of lieder and of roles requiring a lightness and flexibility generally unattainable by singers best known in heavier roles. He recorded Winterreise with Raucheisen in 1942 (and then with Moore in 1955 and in two further versions) and made superb recordings of lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Loewe, Brahms, Wolf and Mahler.<<

Some singers who have studied under Hotter:
Cheryl Studer (American Soprano),Catherine Dubosc (French Soprano), Margaret Marshall (Scottish Soprano), David Ward (Scottish Bass), Robert Holl (Dutch Bass-Baritone), László Polgár (Hungarian Bass), James Morris (American Bass-Baritone)

Branscombe's statement above: "he was able without loss of quality to reduce his warm, ample voice to convey the intimacy and subtlety of lieder and of roles requiring a lightness and flexibility generally unattainable by singers best known in heavier roles" is one with which I can identify since much discussion of late on the BRL & BCRL revolves about HIP singers who tend no have very little of the necessary 'vocal power base' upon which to build a wide range of expression. It is relatively rare, of course, to find a powerful opera singer who can also convincingly express the 'intimacy and subtlety' that Hotter could muster. Conversely, it is also relatively rare for the more typical voices currently heard performing Bach, voices generally lacking the full power of vocal projection, to produce the controlled strength/range of vocal output [such as that which Hotter possessed] which Bach often requires of his bass singers.

Ehud Shiloni wrote (December 14, 2003):
[To Aryeh Oron] I second every word.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 14, 2003):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>>Conversely, it is also relatively rare for the more typical voices currently heard performing Bach, voices generally lacking the full power of vocal projection, to produce the controlled strength/range of vocal output [such as that which Hotter possessed] which Bach often requires of his bass singers. <<
Rather than focusing on nice things about Hans Hotter, you've turned it around to another pedantic bash of the supposed inadequacies (in your opinion) of current professional singers of Bach's music.

Have you ever heard David Thomas' recording of Händel's "Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo"? More difficult music than Bach's. There's even a spot where he has to leap from A above middle C down 2.5 octaves to the D at the bottom of the bass staff; and he nails it. And David Thomas has done a very fine recording of "Ich habe genug," (BWV 82) also.

Continue of this part of the discusssion, see: David Thomas – General Discussions [Performers]

Charles Francis wrote (December 14, 2003):
New file uploaded to BachCantatas

This email message is a notification to let you know that a file has been uploaded to the Files area of the BachCantatas group.
File : /BWV82-Hotter.mp3
Uploaded by: Charles Francis
Description : BWV 82 Recitative (Hans Hotter, 1950)

You can access this file at the URL:

To learn more about file sharing for your group, please visit:

To illustrate Hans Hotter's great art, I've uploaded a short sample from his 1950 performance of BWV 82. The recitative is performed in a literalist manner with notes sustained for their indicated length. Needless to say, with Hotter's full voice, the text comes through with absolute clarity.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 14, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] Thanks for the sample. Enjoyable. Anachronistic style, but enjoyable.

Watch out for false reasoning such as the following sequence (which your comments below suggested to me, as analogy):

- Look at this photo of a red tulip.
- Isn't it pretty? And so red!
- All tulips must be red to be this nice.
- All flowers must be tulips to be this nice.
- Anybody who doesn't like this must not understand flowers at all.
- Might as well cut down any and all flowers that aren't red tulips, since they're enjoyed only by people who don't know any better anyway.

J. Brandon wrote (December 5, 2003):
Is somebody know that from where I can buy a copy of Hans Hotter / Bach BWV 82? It's sold out at .Thanks.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 15, 2003):
Hans Hotter, in this recording, sounds remarkably like DFD, especially in the 1968 Richter recording; I also have DFD in the 1983 Rilling recording. Hotter must have been a very flexible singer, to sing Wagner well, and yet display the sensitivity heard on the mp3, supplied by Charles.

In the accompaniment of both Richter and the Hotter example, legato organ chords predominate over the cello and double bass; with the Rilling, it's the reverse, with cello and double bass predominant, because the chamber organ in the Rilling recording (still with long-held chords) is much smaller than the large organs (with appropriate registration) used in the two previously mentioned cases.

Sometimes this cello/double bass combination is a little harsh in the Rilling cantata set, but even this is preferable to the the "disagreeable strokes" and silly, short 'toots' on a chamber organ heard in the Bostridge/Europa Galante example of this recitative, which I have.

Richter has the most imaginative organ registration, yet in all three recordings, the vocalist is easily and clearly heard, and we have a humble secco recitative transformed into serious and engaging music.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 15, 2003):
[To J. Brandon] claim to have it for sale:

(If that link doesn't work, go to, and type in 'Hotter' AND 'Bach').

The U.K. branch of amazon often have recordings that are not available in the U.S.

Jeremy Thomas wrote (December 15, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday] The Hotter sample sounded like there was a cathedral organ playing in the background! But it was interesting to listen to, thanks.

J. Brandon wrote (December 15, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday] Thanks Neil, I've ordered. :-)
Happy Holiday Seasons !

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 16, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday] Folks, can we put to rest this ludicrous notion that vocalists would not be clearly heard if organists held the notes longer? Just stop. It's not true, so quit it. Any professional singer of Bach with any sort of voice can be heard just fine over chords on a Principal stop or a Flute stop of an organ, even a huge organ, even two or three 8-foot and/or 4-foot stops together. Get over it. The reason to get off the notes is stylistic, to punctuate the declamation of the words and intensify the expressivity of the music, not to avoid covering anybody up!

Obviously some people here believe that musicians and scholars make choices primarily (or ONLY!) to cover up or dodge inadequacies: of physical prowess, of preparation, of intellect, of taste, of reasoning ability, or whatever. THIS FOCUS ON PEOPLE'S SUPPOSED "INADEQUACIES" (and inadequacies as defined by several especially vocal members of this list, not as defined by the musicians' peers!) IS REALLY ANNOYING and an insult to musician.

Musicians do not sit around brooding: "Gee, there are some self-appointed connoisseurs out there who 'have listened to many recordings' and who will be judging my every move, every single thing about me that could be judged inadequate in any way; I'd better do everything I can to cover up these problems!!!" Musicians, or at least the good ones, focus on doing a good positive job with the music and other information available. The self-appointed connoisseurs who don't fancy it are welcome to go buy something else, or go do whatever else it is that gives them personal pleasure.

I've seen it several more times here in the past few days, reading back through the recent archives: notions that people play short in recitative only to avoid covering up inadequate singers, or make some other musical choice (tempo, articulation, dynamics, tuning, whatever) to get around the use of inadequate instruments (as if period instruments can only be played at fast tempos, or whatever).

THIS FOCUS ON NEGATIVITY, AND ON COVERING UP SUPPOSED INADEQUACIES, IS BIZARRE...and really is not what the music is about, at all. Musicianship is not the avoidance of mistakes, or the avoidance of embarrassment, or the avoidance of X or Y or Z. It is a positive and faithful approach to putting the music across strongly, with conviction, no matter what armchair connoisseurs might want to denigrate.

Let's get over it, people. The impression I get from several years of these discussions is that such notions just bounce around among several members here, all saying it so often that they have convinced themselves and one another (and perhaps other unsuspecting readers here!) that it is true. WHY?!?! What has infected the brains of you people? Why all this focus on cataloguing the supposed failings of musicians?! Why all this notion that earlier instruments are in any way inferior to modern ones? It's just a different set of aesthetic values, that's all, not automatic progress that led to changes in instruments and styles.

All this negative stuff can be traced back to assertions by members here that the churches were big (and therefore Bach's singers "must have" had huge voices), or half-digested appeals to historical treatises selected carefully for the gems they can provide out of context, or remarks about the training of singers, or whatnot...all with that same silly bent of claiming inadequacy of someone or other, so a different personal preference can be foisted forward as supposedly the only adequate way to present the music. When will this negativity and half-digested hooey (masquerading as historically verifiable truth, or any responsible type of aesthetic values) stop?

I'm still remembering the occasion in the summer when such rumors about performance practices became ersatz "fact" in the mind of at least one impressionable member, half-remembering something he had read somewhere; and the misinformation was traceable back to the unfounded speculations of another member!

And I'm remembering farther back, when before joining this group at all (but merely reading archives) I was put off buying the Leusink set of cantata recordings, and some other recordings, just because of that similarly unfounded negativity from several prominent members here. The writing about the "inadequacies" of those singers and players (personal preferences, undisclosed, recast as facts!) made it appear that the recordings were completely a mess and not even worth the price of a bag of chips...but then when I heard the recordings themselves, it finally became clear that it was only an inadequacy of some people's expectations here being predisposed against such musicianship.

Probably most of the people who write here do not consciously or deliberately take that tack of inadequacy-bashing as a way to review recordings; but (I suspect) it has become so ingrained by the way some of you read one another's postings that in some minds here those supposed inadequacies of voices and instruments have become ersatz "true" and "factual", and that method of reviewing (tick off a list of the negatives avoided by a performer) has become acceptable. I don't know what can be done about that, except to register this plea for a more respectful approach toward the musicians. I've said all of this before, but still there's that general focus on perceived "inadequacy" of musicians among some regular members here.

There are countless professional musicians currently performing Bach who are JUST AS SENSITIVE MUSICIANS as these old-favorite heroes such as Hans Hotter were...but to read the way things are written here, regularly, it's all just one long bash to "prove" that current musicians are inadequate, and (through repetition) pushing criteria of criticism (and musical value!) that are only based on the preference of a vocal few.

I'm annoyed by phrases such as "the vocalist is easily and clearly heard" below, and somebody else's recent assertion: "The recitative is performed in a literalist manner with notes sustained for their indicated length. Needless to say, with Hotter's full voice, the text comes through with absolute clarity." The implication is that any musician who was adequately prepared and trained and who knew music would do it Hotter's (or whosever) way, and that everybody else is therefore inadequate in some way (lacking a "full voice" or whatever). That's offensive. And it's a severe insult to those of us who do the work: as if every choice we make is just to cover up some inadequacy.

Ridiculous! Whether it's a calculated insult or a naive one, the stringing along of these notions ("ooooo, we'd better pop off the chords SO WE DON'T COVER UP SOME MORON WHO CAN'T REALLY SING!!!!!!") is offensive. Go to church and listen to people singing with an organ. Go get musical training. Go ask people who really do this stuff, live. Whatever. Learn that this notion of getting off the notes is a STYLISTIC thing and not merely a low-level practical one!

Good musicians make choices for stylistic reasons, and based on close study of (and respect for) the music. If we do something entirely different from the expectations of connoisseurs "who have listened to many recordings" and who would really rather hear something different, that's neither here nor there. A good performance comes from good faith in the music, and from strong skill at interpretation, not from a desperate attempt (or even a clever attempt) to cover up inadequacies anywhere. It's to present the music as well as we believe it can be done.

And some readers here, myself included, feel as listeners that the music is EXTREMELY serious and engaging already (and maybe even more so) when the accompaniment is played with varying lengths and plenty of breathing-space, than when it is presented as a wall-to-wall carpet of sound. The carpet approach does not magically "transform" a humble recitative into something of value. It is just as fair to say things the opposite way: that the carpet approach somehow (and fortunately) fails to destroy altogether the dramatic and declamatory value of the music. The music survives, when done either way. There are people here who like it, either way, or both ways. But, in the postings written here regularly, it just looks like a repetitive battle to try to destroy "historically informed" principles of performance, by saying over and over and over and over and over again that musical decisions are (or should be) based primarily on hiding anybody's inadequacies. Annoying.

Hans Hotter: Short Biography | General Discussions

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