Kurt Moll

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Kurt Moll
Kurt Moll bass.jpg
Background information
Born(1938-04-11)11 April 1938
Buir, Germany
Died5 March 2017(2017-03-05) (aged 78)
Cologne, Germany
Occupation(s)Opera singer
InstrumentsVoice (bass)
Years active1958–2006

Kurt Moll (11 April 1938 5 March 2017) [1] was a German operatic bass singer who enjoyed an international career and was widely recorded. [2]

A bass ( BAYSS) is a type of classical male singing voice and has the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a vocal range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C (i.e., E2–E4). Its tessitura, or comfortable range, is normally defined by the outermost lines of the bass clef. Categories of bass voices vary according to national style and classification system. Italians favour subdividing basses into the basso cantante (singing bass), basso buffo ("funny" bass), or the dramatic basso profondo (low bass). The American system identifies the bass-baritone, comic bass, lyric bass, and dramatic bass. The German fach system offers further distinctions: Spielbass (Bassbuffo), Schwerer Spielbass (Schwerer Bassbuffo), Charakterbass (Bassbariton), and Seriöser Bass. These classification systems can overlap. Rare is the performer who embodies a single fach without also touching repertoire from another category.


His voice was notable for its range, a true basso profondo, including full, resonant low and very-low notes with relaxed vibrato; also for its unusual combination of extreme volume-capacity and a purring, contrabassoon-like timbre. [lower-alpha 1] [3] Although he had a powerful voice and stamina adequate for the most demanding parts, he was not a thunderer, and never performed as Wagner's vocally athletic, bellowing bassos Hagen, [4] Hans Sachs, nor Wotan. [5] His interpretations tended to be restrained and intelligent, even in comedic roles like Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier .

Basso profondo, sometimes basso profundo or contrabass, is the bass voice subtype with the lowest vocal range.

<i>Götterdämmerung</i> opera by Richard Wagner

Götterdämmerung, WWV 86D, is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four music dramas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 17 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of the Ring.

<i>Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg</i> opera by Richard Wagner

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a music drama in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas commonly performed, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater, today the home of the Bavarian State Opera, in Munich, on 21 June 1868. The conductor at the premiere was Hans von Bülow.


Moll was born in Buir, near Cologne, Germany. [2] As a child, he played the cello and hoped to become a great cellist. (He also had ambitions to be an industrialist/businessman. [6] ) He sang in the school choir whose conductor encouraged him to concentrate on singing. He studied voice at the Musikhochschule Köln. He joined the Cologne Opera at age 20 and remained a member of the ensemble until 1961. He then sang for three years at the Mainz Opera and five years at the Wuppertal Opera. In 1969, he accepted an engagement with the Hamburg State Opera, and then performed in major opera houses of Europe. [7]

Kerpen Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Kerpen is a town in the Rhein-Erft-Kreis, North Rhine-Westphalia. Germany. It is located about 30 kilometres southwest from Cologne.

Cologne city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and its 1 million+ (2016) inhabitants make it the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. The largest city on the Rhine, it is also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.

Cologne Opera

The Cologne Opera refers both to the main opera house in Cologne, Germany and to its resident opera company.

He made his Bayreuth Festival debut in 1968 as the nightwatchman in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg , and sang there for several years as Fafner in Der Ring des Nibelungen , Marke in Tristan und Isolde and Pogner in Die Meistersinger. [3]

Bayreuth Festival music festival

The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.

<i>Der Ring des Nibelungen</i> series of four operas by Richard Wagner

Der Ring des Nibelungen, WWV 86, is a cycle of four German-language epic music dramas composed by Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. The composer termed the cycle a "Bühnenfestspiel", structured in three days preceded by a Vorabend. It is often referred to as the Ring Cycle, Wagner's Ring, or simply The Ring.

<i>Tristan und Isolde</i> opera by Richard Wagner

Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the 12th-century romance Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered at the Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it "eine Handlung", which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.

He made his American debut with the San Francisco Opera as Gurnemanz in Wagner's Parsifal in 1974, a role he reprised with the company in 2000. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera on the opening night of the 1977-78 season, appearing as the Landgrave in Wagner's Tannhäuser . He also sang there as Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio and Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto .

San Francisco Opera opera company based in San Francisco, United States, performing in the War Memorial Opera House

San Francisco Opera (SFO) is an American opera company, based in San Francisco, California.

<i>Parsifal</i> opera in three acts by Richard Wagner

Parsifal is an opera in three acts by German composer Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

He made many recordings of opera, sacred music, and lieder. Moll can be heard as Ochs in seven complete recordings of Der Rosenkavalier , as Sarastro in six recordings of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte , as Marke in six sets of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and as the Archangel Raphael in three recordings of Haydn's Die Schöpfung . His recording for the Orfeo label of Schubert's philosophical "Lieder für Bass" set a new standard for these songs; he also recorded Schubert's song-cycle Winterreise , and an album of dramatic/heroic ballads by Carl Loewe. Besides German, Italian, and Latin, he recorded a few roles in Russian, including Pimen in Boris Godunov and the Old Convict in Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Shostakovich. He can be seen in many roles on commercial video, including Sarastro (twice), Osmin, the Commendatore, Bartolo, Hunding in Wagner's Die Walküre (three times), Fafner in Das Rheingold and Siegfried , in Gurnemanz in Parsifal, and Ochs (three times).

Lied musical form

The lied is a term in the German vernacular to describe setting poetry to classical music to create a piece of polyphonic music. The term is used for songs from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries or even to refer to Minnesang from as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. It later came especially to refer to settings of Romantic poetry during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and into the early twentieth century. Examples include settings by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf or Richard Strauss. Among English speakers, however, "lied" is often used interchangeably with "art song" to encompass works that the tradition has inspired in other languages. The poems that have been made into lieder often center on pastoral themes or themes of romantic love.

<i>Der Rosenkavalier</i> opera by Richard Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière's comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt, Ernst von Schuch conducting. Until the premiere the working title was Ochs auf Lerchenau.

<i>The Magic Flute</i> opera by Mozart

The Magic Flute, K. 620, is an opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. The work was premiered on 30 September 1791 at Schikaneder's theatre, the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, just two months before the composer's premature death.

Awards and Honors

He won three Grammy Awards (1981, 1985, and 1989) for various opera CDs, [8] and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Classical Music/Dance for his performance as Hunding on the PBS television series Live from the Metropolitan Opera (also known as The Metropolitan Opera Presents), in 1991. [9] In Germany he held the prestigious title Kammersänger . [10]


Moll retired from the stage in 2006, after singing the Nightwatchman at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. [3] He gave a master class in January 2011 at Carnegie Hall. [11]

Moll lived in Cologne with his family until his death.



  1. According to Vladimir Miller he would have been appropriately fitted to sing Russian liturgical parts for basso profondi (Octavists)

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  1. "Opernsänger Kurt Moll gestorben" (in German). ORF. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  2. 1 2 Bagnoli, Giorgio (1993). Kurt Moll. The La Scala encyclopedia of the opera. Simon and Schuster. p. 258. ISBN   0-671-87042-4.
  3. 1 2 3 Luehrs-Kaiser, Kai (11 April 2008). "Ein Bass wie der von Gottvater: Kurt Moll wird 70". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  4. "Kurt Moll Interview with Bruce Duffie . . . . ." www.bruceduffie.com. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. https://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2017/3/News/Kurt_Moll_German_Bass_78.html
  6. Cooper, Michael (9 March 2017). "Kurt Moll, German Basso Profundo, Dies at 78" . Retrieved 2 September 2017 via NYTimes.com.
  7. "Kurt Moll (Bass)". Bach-Cantatas. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  8. https://www.grammy.com/grammys/artists/kurt-moll
  9. https://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/1991?page=5
  10. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/177066251#
  11. "Kurt Moll master class" . Retrieved 2 September 2017.[ permanent dead link ]