The album Nice ‘n’ Easy appears on OKeh / Sony Music. It is Thomas Quasthoff’s first production with the NDR Big Band. It is the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream to record great jazz classics with the Big Band and his longtime musical partners Frank Chastenier (piano), Dieter Ilg (bass) and Wolfgang Haffner (drums).
Conducted Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Verbier Festival with the RIAS Kammerchor
The request came two years earlier. We stood by the swimming pool of a chalet in Verbier and director Martin Engström asked me: ‘Would you like to conduct St. Matthew’s Passion?’ – I almost fell in the pool from shock. At the same time, I was close to tears with emotion. The work has been with me throughout my singing life; I sang it as a boy in the children’s choir, and later as an adolescent – in addition to the baritone arias, I know all the choir parts also all other solo parts perfectly. But would I be able to lead an orchestra in addition to the singers?
Cabaret with Michael Frowin and pianist Jochen Kilian
I grew up with a cabaret, the “Münchner Lach- und Schießgesellschaft”, including Dieter Hildebrandt. Hanns-Dieter Hüsch was a great role model with his way of watching people’s faces and expressing himself politically on a daily basis. Already as a teenager, I’ve done parodies; now in the Trio Programme on small stages, I could try it again. After two years, when my voice had recovered, I realized that my strength was more in singing than in telling jokes on a high level. It was an interesting time, but it’s over now.
November: Role of the Fool in W. Shakespeare’s “As you Like It” at the Berliner Ensemble (Director: Katharina Thalbach)
That was a gut decision which was just right. Of course, when Kathi asked me over a beer if I could imagine doing theatre, it came as a surprise, but it did occupy me in a way that suited me 100 percent. And for me as a politically-minded individual, it was also something special to work at a house in which Brecht’s spirit is still so present.
January: Thomas Quasthoff ends his career as a classical singer.
September: After the best-selling jazz album “Watch What Happens” (2007), Thomas Quasthoff’s new CD “Tell It Like It Is” features favourite songs by soul legends, pop stars and blues heroes.
The titles were mostly selected by my brother, who was already seriously ill with cancer at the time. That’s why this recording is so important to me.
Awarded the title Kammersänger (KS) in Vienna and the Herbert von Karajan Prize of the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.
A long-standing friendship connects me to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, and being named alongside past winners like Anne-Sophie Mutter or Pierre Boulez is a great honour.
Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.
Verdi Requiem with the Vienna Philharmonic and Riccardo Muti.
With the Verdi Requiem under the baton of Riccardo Muti, I dream I had cherished for many years to sing this great work in the Vienna Musikverein came true.
Jazz concerts with Till Brönner at the New York Carnegie Hall, the Wiener Musikverein, the Kölner Philharmonie and the Admiralspalast in Berlin
Till is not just first-rate; he’s an outstanding trumpeter.
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz)
Debut at the Vienna State Opera as “Amfortas” in Wagner’s “Parsifal” under Donald Runnicles and first song recital at the Salzburg Festival.
Professor of singing at the Academy of Music “Hanns Eisler” Berlin.
I enjoy educating young musicians to become singers who can work intelligently and move well on a stage, who are colourful artists who know what they are doing. The practical work makes me happy. And in pianist Alexander Fleischer I have an assistant with whom I can work responsibly and well.
Bach Cantatas with the Berlin Baroque Soloists (Midem Classical Award 2005, Classical Amadeus Prize 2005, Grammy Award 2006, DG)
First opera performance as “Don Fernando” in Beethoven’s “Fidelio” with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin and at the Salzburg Easter Festival.
I think that someday I will go down in the annals of history as having had the shortest-ever operatic career, but still, with my debut at the Salzburg Festival. And my second role as Amfortas in the State Opera in Vienna.
CD release: Schubert songs in the orchestration of famous composers with Anne Sofie von Otter, Claudio Abbado and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Grammy Award 2004, DG)
Schumann’s “Scenes from Goethe’s Faust” under Claudio Abbado with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
This was a special concert insofar as there is a baritone performance in it, “Gnade bedürfend”, on a high G, emerging from nothing, in pianissimo. I sang that, and suddenly Claudio Abbado turned to me, and the whole orchestra turned with him. And he nodded to me. That was like a knighthood!
Commemorative concert with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle a. a. in the concentration camp Mauthausen (Austria)
That was very moving. For me, of course, because I knew: When the National Socialists were in power, I could never have sung there; I would have been killed. It was a controversial concert, but Simon Rattle encouraged the Vienna Philharmonic to set an example, to face up to its own past. Especially in these times, it’s important for orchestras to examine their own history and be aware of their responsibilities.
Debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall in Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa.
That was the icing on the cake. But like so many things, it just happened. If there’s one thing that I really like about my career, it’s that I never had to discredit anyone in order to get great projects. My first appearance at Carnegie Hall was one of those. You stand there and think, ‘Now you’ve made it.’
Exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon (DG); First publication: Mahler’s “Lieder aus dem Knaben Wunderhorn” with Anne Sofie von Otter and the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado (Grammy Award 2000)
My first Grammy. Abbado was a fabulous conductor and a wonderful person; warm-hearted. One of his strengths was the pauses. I liked the peace and quiet he radiated; at the same time he was explosive when he made music.
First collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic under Helmuth Rilling in the Wiener Musikverein.
I owe to the Vienna Philharmonic the fact that I was appointed Kammersänger. And many wonderful musical memories.
First concert appearances with Sir Simon Rattle (Haydn’s “Creation” with the Berliner Philharmoniker).
Simon Rattle has become a life-long friend. He is one of the few conductors at whom I rarely had to look, because I simply felt what he wanted to express. This is a very special form of music-making.
Shostakovich Prize in Moscow
That this award went to a German was something special. Although I was born in 1959, standing there and being honoured for my artistic work by a people to whom Germans had done so much in World War II was very moving.
Vocal Professor at the Detmold Academy of Music (North Rhine-Westphalia).
Detmold was a significant part of my life. It was very important for me to learn that I could not only sing, but also achieve a high level of teaching.
Debut at the Oregon Bach Festival, USA under the direction of Helmuth Rilling.
My first time America! Helmut Rilling helped me a lot and became a father figure for me.
Debut at the Wiener Musikverein with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under Isaac Karabtchevsky.
This is unforgettable for me because of the 2.02 meter tenor James Wagner next to me. I still sang without a podium and asked him how the air was up there. He just answered coolly, ‘I smell dwarfs.’” (laughs) “It was also one of the last concerts with Lucia Popp, one of my favourite, great sopranos, who was also a lovely colleague.
First prize at the International Music Competition of the ARD in Munich.
For me, the springboard to an international career.
First prize at the International Mozart Competition in Salzburg
In this competition, I had to present only opera arias, which was for my future path, and also for my ego, almost as important as the ARD competition.