Book Review: Lotte Lehmann & Her Legacy by Gary Hickling
Our Artsong Update online friendship with Gary Hickling goes back to the beginning of our website in August 2002 when, at Gary's request, we agreed to link sites.
Gary has maintained his powerful obsession for German-born, lyric soprano Lotte Lehmann (1885-1976) (American citizen since 1945) for many years. His book caps his years of research and his collecting her recordings and now making them available on Apple iBooks free of charge.
Recounting his discovery of the singer, he writes: “ I had a Japanese baritone friend who didn’t know how to drive, so I was persuaded to chauffeur him from UCLA, where we were both studying, to Santa Barbara, for private lessons with Lehmann. I had hardly heard of her, so you can imagine what it was like for a 20-year-old to meet his first genius. And what an energetic, charismatic one at that! She had retired from over 10 years at the Music Academy of the West, which she had helped build, but was still bursting with enthusiasm, and the joy in sharing what she knew. I immediately began listening to her recordings.”
Since we don't have an iPad I will defer to David Cutler's review.
”Lehmann made her debut as early as 1910 in Hamburg and she became the outstanding Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier of her day. Surprisingly, it was not her most frequently sung role—that was Manon in Massenet’s opera! She created the role of the composer in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. She sang at the Metropolitan Opera from 1934 to 1945, having emigrated to the United States in 1938 from Austria, and she continued to sing up to 1951, after which she taught. Among her most famous students were Marliyn Horne and Grace Bumbry. As John Steane said in his book The Grand Tradition, 'Her voice gives us so many of the pleasures a singer can afford….She was able to a remarkable extent to sing opera with the intimacy of a Lieder singer, giving out a glorious stream of voice, yet attending imaginatively to the enunciation and coloring of the text.'”
”If there is a tiny niggle, perhaps the simplicity of the approach and also the comparisons with other voices, which although interesting, could deflect from the singer herself. However this iBook is a tremendous achievement, a joy to read and a huge advertisement for what can be achieved. It should be taken up as a wonderful example of how to bring the great voices of singers of the earlier 20th century to a new generation via this refreshing method.”
Andrew Quint describes the book:
The complete reviews can be found here: