Wolfgang Holzmair

Wolfgang Holzmair was born in Vöcklabruck, Austria, and studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Dramatic Art with Hilde Rössel-Majdan (voice) and Erik Werba (lied). He performs in recital throughout the world with regular appearances in London, Vienna, Lisbon, Amsterdam, New York, Washington, at the Risör Festival (Norway), BathMozart Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival (UK), Menuhin Festival (Switzerland), Bregenz Festival and Carinthian Summer Festival (Austria). Alongside his outstanding artistic relationship with the British pianist Imogen Cooper and his collaboration with a number of important accompanists, he performs with some of the leading pianists of our time.

Wolfgang Holzmair is also active in the opera world. In recent seasons he has sung Papageno and Eisenstein in Dallas under Graeme Jenkins, Faninal Der Rosenkavalier in Seattle under Asher Fish and in Hong Kong under Edo de Waart, Don Alfonso in Lyon under William Christie and in Toronto under Richard Bradshaw, the Music Master Ariadne auf Naxos in Madrid under Jesús López-Cobos, Wolfram Tannhäuser in Erfurt under Gugerbauer, Eduard Neues vom Tage by Hindemith in Ancona, Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Toronto under Anne Manson, the Father Hansel and Gretel in a tour of Japan under Ozawa, the title role in Daniel Schnyder’s Casanova for the Mehuhin Festival Gstaad, Masino in Haydn’s La vera costanza in concert performances in Cologne and Agamemnon Iphigenie in Aulis by Gluck/Wagner in Paris and Cologne.

Equally in demand on the concert platform, he has sung with leading European and American orchestras, such as the Israel Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland and Concertgebouw Orchestras and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under eminent conductors including Blomstedt, Boulez, Chailly, Frühbeck de Burgos, Haitink, Harnoncourt, Kreizberg, Norrington, Ozawa. Some recent concert appearances include Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Klangforum Wien in Vienna and Amsterdam, orchestrated Wolf songs with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer in Budapest, Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem under Friedrich Haider in Oviedo, Britten’s War Requiem with the Dresden Philharmonie under Claus Peter Flor, Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony under Hannu Lintu in Dublin, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Tokyo Symphony under Herbert Soudant, Faust in Schumann’s Scenes from Faust with the Bern Symphony Orchestra and Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with the Seoul Philharmonic under Shi-Yeon Sung.

Wolfgang Holzmair has an extensive discography, and his recordings have met with critical acclaim. These include lieder by Clara and Robert Schumann and Eichendorff songs by various composers, all with Imogen Cooper (Philips), various Schubert recordings with Gérard Wyss (Tudor), the Austrian Pasticcio Award winning Songs from the British Isles with Trio Wanderer (Cyprés), Pelléas et Mélisande with Haitink and the Orchestre National de France (Naive), and Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with Herbert Blomstedt, which won a Grammy award. He is a committed advocate of works, especially lieder, by victimised composers and he has recorded works by Krenek, Mittler, Zeisl, Schreker as well as a Terezin/Theresienstadt CD (Bridge Records). Recent recordings include Wolf Songs with Imogen Cooper (Wigmore Hall Live) and Mahler Songs with Russell Ryan (Nightingale) and Wigmore Hall Live has also released a recording from its archive of Die Schöne Müllerin made in 1994 with the legendary accompanist Geoffrey Parsons.

Since 1998 he has taught lied and oratorio at the Mozarteum in Salzburg where he is now Director of the International Summer Academy.

” Wolfgang Holzmair’s 1999 recording of Die schöne Müllerin with Imogen Cooper has long been admired for its freshness and expressive immediacy. Five years earlier at the Wigmore Hall, in what proved to be pianist Geoffrey Parson’s final public appearance, he ‘lives’ the cycle even more intensely, prepared to sacrifice vocal finish to the impact of the moment….It joins the handful of favourite baritone versions..” Wigmore Hall Live, Gramophone, April 2015

“Mr. Holzmair gave…subtly shaped, powerful readings. But he was at his most affecting in a group of undated songs by Ilse Weber, an author of children’s books and an amateur composer who wrote with disarming directness.” Terezin/92nd St Y, New York Times, January 2012

“Baritone Wolfgang Holzmair was altogether more effective, intense in his rapture and effective in his resignation”. Zemlinsky Lyric Symphony/RTÉ NSO, Irish Times, November 2011

“..no other singer of German song at the moment communicates so intently the rhythm and meaning of the poems.” Financial Times, December 2010

“He was particularly affecting in the brighter “Frühlingsmorgen” (“Spring Morning”), and his graceful, soft-edged reading of the “Phantasie” had an irresistible melting quality. But Mahler is at his most gripping — and offers a singer the greatest expressive opportunities — in songs of soul-wrenching conflict or pained resignation. Not surprisingly, Mr. Holzmair was incomparable in the transcendent “Urlicht” (“Primal Light”) and in the intensely focused performance of “Ich Bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen” that closed the program.” New York Times, November 2010

“Wolfgang Holzmair made much more of Faninal than one ordinarily sees (and hears), giving the character plenty of vocal and dramatic heft.” The Seattle Times, August 2006

“Holzmair, with his warm amber sound, crystal-clear diction and almost conversationally natural way with phrasing, is the most engaging of lieder singers.” Washington Post, December 2005

“Wolfgang Holzmair is a thoroughly communicative singer, and the intimate layout of the Austrian Cultural Forum’s concert hall made it possible for him to convey the emotional depth and subtleties of his program on Tuesday evening.”
New York Times, November 2005

”There’s not much to be said, really, about Holzmair and Cooper’s Wolf, save that it showed two performers at the peak of their art, with that essential but all-too-rare balance of independence and co-operation between keyboard and voice, and working in repertoire that finds an utterly inimitable composer at a similar peak.” The Irish Times, December 2004

”The Austrian baritone Wolfgang Holzmair provided ample proof of his Mahler skills, boasting a dark and clear timbre and delightful ease of tone.”
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Kreizberg
Münchner Merkur, November 2004

”I last heard Mr. Holzmair in an all-Wolf recital, and its was interesting to see how differently he approached Brahms, striding out robustly on stage and launching into the first song with an air of healthy insouciance, where his Wolf, in a smaller hall, was more intimate and more careful. Not that there was anything calculated in this: Mr. Holzmair, on the contrary, seems to have one of the most instinctive approaches to lieder of anyone today, presenting the songs with the ease and clarity of conversation.”
The New York Times, October 2004

”How to explain the magic of a lieder recital? Baritone Wolfgang Holzmair filled an evening with this very special genre of music…. It was truly a memorable, all-absorbing event, and Holzmair’s pianist, Russell Ryan, played no small part.” The Washington Post, October 2004

“..the Austrian baritone, Wolfgang Holzmair, whose intimate and direct singing seems the kind of thing you might have heard in a 19th century drawing room: communicative, straightforward, delicately nuanced.” Orchestra of St Luke’s/Norrington, New York Times, April 2004

“It was easy to pinpoint telling individual nuances in Holamzir’s singing…but more impressive was his shaping, his carefully modulated shading, of the whole.” Winterreise with Imogen Cooper/Queen Elizabeth Hall, London Evening Standard June 2003

“Wolfgang Holzmair and Imogen Cooper have lived with Winterreise for most of their perofrmaning lives; and now their individual and joint journeys have reached an extraordinary point.” Winterreise with Imogen Cooper/Queen Elizabeth Hall, London The Times June 2003