German baritone, renowned for the beauty and range of his voice and for his unique powers of interpretation. He was appointed a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1990.
Born in Berlin, Fischer-Dieskau had an early ambition to become a conductor, but he changed direction as his remarkable voice developed. At eighteen, his studies were interrupted by war service and from 1945 to 1947 he was a prisoner of war in Italy. After the war he continued to study in Berlin and quickly made a name for himself in recitals and broadcasts. In 1948 he was invited to join the Berlin State Opera. Since then he has developed as one of the greatest singing actors of the age in such varied roles as Don Giovanni, Papageno, Falstaff, Figaro, and Wozzeck. His recital repertoire is also prodigious. Of his many performances in Britain, the première of Britten's War Requiem at the opening of the new Coventry Cathedral (1962) was perhaps the most memorable. On this occasion he took the platform with Galina Vishnevskaya from the Soviet Union and Peter Pears from Britain. He has also conducted on many occasions, including several recordings of opera, and has written widely on musical subjects. He received the Royal Philharmonic Society's Gold Medal in 1988.