Swiss baritone Kurt Widmer has toured the world as a recitalist and with conductors including Rafael Fruhbeck de Bourgos, Michael Gielen, Paul Sacher, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Horst Stein, and Jesus Lopez Cobos, and sings regularly at major European festivals. His repertoire extends from Machaut to contemporary music, and he has recorded widely. Widmer is also well-known for his teaching activities, both at the Basel Music Academy and at his international master classes.
Born: December 28, 1940 - Wil/Canton St. Gallen, Switzerland
The Swiss baritone, Kurt Widmer, visited the teacher seminar in Rorschach and informed six years long in Zurich. He studied violin playing and singing (with Ria Ginster) at the Conservatory of Zurich, then with Paul Lohmann and Franziska Martienssen Lohmann in Luzern and Wiesbaden and with Burga Schwarzbach in Vienna. In 1967 he won the Soloist Prize of the Schweizerischen Tonkunstlervereins (The Swiss Composers' Association).
Since 1966 Kurt Widmer has appeared as a concert singer in Switzerland, then also on international level, to a great career. He has sung at concerts throughout Europe, Israel, the USA, Canada, Russia and Japan under prominent conductors (Rafael Fruhbeck de Bourgos, Michael Gielen, Paul Sacher, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Horst Stein, Jesus Lopez Cobos). He participated at the Festival Weeks of Montreux and at the English Bach Festival in London, at the Festival Weeks of Luzern, at the Israel Festival, at the Schwetzinger Festival, at Brighton Festival and at the Festival of Strasbourg. He could be heard in Switzerland (Basel, Berne, Zurich, Geneva, Lugano, Lausanne) and in Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt a.M., Hamburg, Koln, Munich, Stuttgart), in Vienna and Graz, in Milan, Rome, Turin, Triest and Naples, in Paris, Brussels and Luttich, in Amsterdam, London and Rotterdam, in Dresden, Leipzig and Bratislava, in Madrid, Valencia and Lisbon, at the Salzburg Festival (1978 in a Mozart concert) and at the Cleveland Festival, in Budapest, at the Festival of Wroclaw (Breslau) and with at the German Bach Festival in Mainz. Other festivals in which he has participated are: Zurich, Donaueschingen, Ludwigsburg, Breslau, Turin, and Vienna.
Kurt Widmer's repertoire in the areas of the oratorios and the sacred vocal music had a nearly inexhaustible extent and contained works of J.S. Bach, Handel and masters Baroque epoch up to contemporary compositions. He created several vocal works of modern composers such as R. Kelterborn, Armin Schibler, H. Sutermeister and Klaus Huber. So far, he has sung in more than 100 premieres. From the very start until today, his primary interest has been Lieder. In this area he performed the Lieder of the Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck, as well as Lieder of Schubert, R. Schumann, J. Brahms, Mussorgsky, R. Strauss, A. Honegger and B. Britten. On the stage he appeared only occasionally, sang however roles in concertante and radio performances of operas.
In 1985 Kurt Widmer was awarded the Regio Prize for Music of the Upper Rhine Association for the Promotion of the Economy. Since 1968 he has worked as a pedagogue at the Musikakademie of Basel. His son, Oliver Widmer became like his father a well-known baritone.
The repertoire of Kurt Widmer's many records and radio recordings ranges from Machaut's Mass to contemporary works. He has participated in numerous recordings, including: on Harmonia Mundi (Schopfung by Haydn, Deutsches Requiem by J. Brahms, Johannes-Passion by Scarlatti, Missa Solemnis by Beethoven), Toccata (Winterreise by Schubert), Electrola (Works of Carissimi and Heinrich Schutz), Philips (Requiem by Cimarosa), BASF (Penthesilea by O. Schoeck), Vox (Oratorios Schopfung and Jahreszeiten by Haydn), DGG (Works of G. de Machaut, B. Marcello), HMV (Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) by J.S. Bach), Jecklin-Disco (Lieder of Schubert, Mozart und A. Zemlinsky), Erato (Works of M.A. Charpentier, Der Tod Jesu by Graun, works of H. Schutz und Zelenka), Calig-Verlag (Weihnachts-Oratorium by Saint-Saens), Schwann (Requiem of G. Faure), Pan (Lieder of O. Schoeck and W. Burkhard), Amati (Mozart und Salieri by Rimsky-Korssakov). Kurt Widmer has been awarded a number of prizes for records (Prix mondial du disque, Grand Prix du disque, Diaposon d'or Prix de l'Academie du disque Francais, Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik).