LL 1936 as ToscaThis site is being re-designed. Please be patient during the process.

Welcome to the site that focuses on two subjects: the German soprano, Lotte Lehmann (1888 – 1976) and art song. Lehmann was called “the greatest artist in the world” by Toscanini and Richard Strauss uttered the words that are now engraved on her tombstone: “Sie hat gesungen, dass es Sterne rührte”—her singing moved the stars. Read what others wrote over the years. Here you can find the latest Lehmann news, which I update regularly. Speaking of news: the Music & Arts 4 CD set of Lehmann rarities (named Gramophone Editor’s Choice for May 2014) is now available (and November 2014 on Sale!).  And finished as of June 2013 a CD index of Lehmann recordings. You can enjoy every known Lehmann commercial recording, which includes the remarkable acoustic (no microphone!) recording of Lehmann singing Butterfly’s entrance with a long held high Db at the end. Bald sind wir…Über das Meer… You may want to hear Lehmann speak in German, about her life, and about Lieder and opera roles. LL Erzählt 1LL Erzählt 2.

If you’ve arrived here for the first time, you’ll want to hear Lehmann sing something from her famous Wagnerian repertoire. Dich, teure Halle . Or listen to her sing in English. Or listen to Lehmann sing lighter songs and operetta.  And what about who she was and wasn’t?! A bio or two would be good. You’ll enjoy some photos and a chronology (she sang a lot!). Her colleagues and students have recorded tributes that you can sample. You find lists of Lehmann’s roles and repertoire (her recital choices is finished as of August 2013), the books she wrote, books about her and her discography. Check out the page of Lehmann reading poetry.  Lehmann Firsts and Honors; Famous Conductors for Whom Lehmann Sang; new, as of September 2012, a page of Lehmann letters.

LL with Big City co-star Margaret O’Brien

Here’s an excerpt from the MGM movie, Big City, Lehmann made in 1947. BigCity

For students of opera and song, you’ll enjoy hearing Lehmann’s masterclasses. You can read about her work with the leading conductors and pianists of her time, including Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, Paul Ulanowsky, Ernö Balogh, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, etc. Here also, is a page about Lehmann’s companion Frances Holden, as well as one on Constance Hope, her US publicist, and Jeanette MacDonald, whom she coached.

And how does Lehmann compare to other singers? You can enjoy singers of her time and our time in the same aria or song. Here’s a little game for you vocal experts: I’ve conflated four versions of Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade Gretchen am Spinnrade can you tell me who is singing each verse? (I’ll put the answer at the bottom of the page.)

Winterreise was Lehmann’s favorite work; she was the first woman to record the cycle; she painted watercolors to go with each song and recorded the poetry, and you can sample all of this. There’s a YouTube version with other winter pictures to enjoy.

Lehmann taught and coached many singers, I’m trying to list as many as I can. Please send me names of those I’ve missed. I have some of her master classes, and, as of August 2012, thanks to Paul Koko, we have two of Lehmann’s classes from 1967 given at Northwestern University.

I’ll also try to keep you informed about news related to Lehmann, such as the recently released four CD set from the Music & Arts label. Though I called it Lehmann “rarities,” the title is now: Lotte Lehmann: A 125th Birthday Tribute and is now available (2014); the release of a 2012 restoration by Immortal Performances of Lehmann’s live Met broadcast of Rosenkavalier in 1938; a new book: Lotte Lehmann in America: Her Legacy as Artist Teacher.  The volume is number 23 in the CMS MBAM series (Monographs and Bibliographies in American Music) and includes commentaries from her master classes. There’s a live excerpt of Lehmann in the final Meistersinger quintet in quite bad sound, but fun to hear on the stage.  You can find an  obituary of one of her assistants and biographers, Beaumont Glass. Look for “Waltraud Meier Receives the Lotte Lehmann Memorial Ring.” Also the non-Lehmann news, such as the passing of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. And interesting info in the Lehmann world such as a slightly cleaned up version of the acoustically horrible (but exciting) short-wave broadcast of Toscanini conducting Lehmann in the Abscheulicher and Komm’ Hoffnung of 16 August 1936.  Also, the latest internet searches to find unusual Lehmann performances. At Amazon you can search through hundreds of available Lehmann recordings sampling or buying. YouTube has posted a really well-filtered version of one of Lehmann’s most popular recordings, the 1924 acoustic of Korngold’s famous duet from Die tode Stadt with Richard Tauber. From a wonderful researcher, Peter Clausen, in Vienna, I receive from time to time information about Lehmann. Recently he sent the fact that her first book, her 1937 autobiography “Anfang und Aufstieg,” was banned by the Nazis on their list of harmful and undesirable writings (“schädlichen und unerwünschten”) on December 31, 1938. Up-to-date news includes the information on the Lotte Lehmann Akademie, which offers three week courses each August.

What about art song? First a quick definition: poetry set to music for classical voice and piano. Yes, there are art songs with orchestra etc., but that will do for a beginning. You already know at least one art song, Brahms’ Lullaby. The first verse is taken from a collection of German folk poems called Des Knaben Wunderhorn; the second stanza was written by Georg Scherer (1824 – 1909) in 1849.

You can go to the sample page where you can hear many other songs that you know, but may not have known as art songs. There’s many songs in many languages to hear in the art song world. You can hear lots of them on the art song page. For those of you who like the visual aspect, I put together a movie called Three American Art Songs. Each of the songs is in its own scenario. Enjoy!

You can see and hear French mélodie, German Lieder, Spanish cancion classica, and American art song, just by going to LyricLanguages. I offer the original poem, an English translation and beautiful images to accompany the song. On the art song page I provide samples of many great singers, past and present, some unusual examples and even some spoofs.

Finally, you may read about me, Gary Hickling, and my connection to Lehmann and art song. I founded the Lotte Lehmann Foundation in 1997, served as its president for six years and stepped down completely in 2005. But I find myself still obsessed with Mme. Lehmann, her wonderful voice and fascinating personality. So now I’m having fun allowing her to live again with this website in a personal rather than an institutional way. As the Lotte  Lehmann Foundation, which is inactive now, lists less and less on its website, I’ve decided to provide the names of the donors and Advisors, for that time when the website itself disappears. The World of Song Award was something that began with the Foundation and has lapsed. This is being revived, with Christa Ludwig for 2013 and Richard Hundley for 2014. The Lotte Lehmann Foundation also supported CyberSing, that has been supplanted now with the Art Song Contest. Run through the auspices of Hawaii Public Radio and my Singing and other Sins program, the international nature of the contest has resulted in some amazing winners.

When I was preparing one of my radio programs for WBAI in New York City, I approached one of the most art song-knowledgeable experts I could find, Philip Miller. (He deserves a whole page unto himself! That will be a project for the future.) The program was to be the “top 40″ Schubert Lieder by 40 different singers. He helped tremendously. Finally, I asked him to recommend one of the many Schubert songs recorded by Lehmann. He said, without hesitation, that though Lehmann was 60 years old when she recorded it for RCA, there wasn’t a more beautiful version to be found of An den Mond. This is not the Schubert Lied to Goethe poetry, but rather to that of Hölty.

Singers in Gretchen am Spinnrade quiz above: Jeannine Altmeyer (Lehmann’s last student); Lehmann herself; Gundula Janowitz; Elisabeth Schumann.

I’ve begun a list of German-speaking composers, and before that a sampling of the over 8,000 Lieder inspired by Heine’s poetry. These two presentations were prepared for the “History of the German People” class I took in the Spring of 2014 with Dr. Schweizer at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Dich, teure Halle, grüss ich wieder,

froh grüss ich dich, geliebter Raum!

In dir erwachen seine Lieder

und wecken mich aus düstrem Traum.

Da er aus dir geschieden,

wie öd’ erschienst du mir!

Aus mir entfloh der Frieden,

die Freude zog aus dir.

Wie jetzt mein Busen hoch sich hebet,

so scheinst du jetzt mir stolz und hehr.

Der mich und dich so neu belebet,

nicht weilt er ferne mehr,

Du teure Halle, sei mir gegrüßt!

Dear hall, I greet you once again,

joyfully I greet you, beloved place!

In you his songs awake

and waken me from gloomy dreams.

When he departed from you,

how desolate you appeared to me!

Peace forsook me,

joy took leave of you.

How strongly now my heart is leaping;

to me now you appear exalted and sublime.

He who thus revives both me and you,

tarries afar no more.

You dear hall, I greet thee!

Meine Ruh’ ist hin,

Mein Herz ist schwer,

Ich finde sie nimmer

Und nimmermehr.

Wo ich ihn nicht hab

Ist mir das Grab,

Die ganze Welt

Ist mir vergällt.

Mein armer Kopf

Ist mir verrückt,

Mein armer Sinn

Ist mir zerstückt.

Nach ihm nur schau ich

Zum Fenster hinaus,

Nach ihm nur geh ich

Aus dem Haus.

Sein hoher Gang,

Sein’ edle Gestalt,

Seine Mundes Lächeln,

Seiner Augen Gewalt,

Und seiner Rede


Sein Händedruck,

Und ach, sein Kuß!

Mein Busen drängt sich

Nach ihm hin.

Ach dürft ich fassen

Und halten ihn,

Und küssen ihn,

So wie ich wollt,

An seinen Küssen

Vergehen sollt!

My peace is gone,

My heart is heavy,

I will find it never

and never more.

Where I do not have him,

It is like the grave to me.

The whole world

Is bitter to me.

My poor head

is deranged.

My poor mind


For him only, I look

Out the window

Only for him do I go

Out of the house.

His tall bearing

His noble form,

The smile of his lips,

His eyes’ power,

And his talk’s

Magic flow,

The clasp of his hands,

and ah! his kiss!

My heart yearns

for him.

Ah, might I grasp

And hold him!

And kiss him,

To my heart’s content,

Under his kisses

to swoon!

Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht,

Mit Rosen bedacht,

Mit Näglein besteckt,

Schlupf unter die Deck':

Morgen früh, wenn Gott will,

Wirst du wieder geweckt.

Guten Abend, gute Nacht,

Von Englein bewacht,

Die zeigen im Traum

Dir Christkindleins Baum.

Schlaf nun selig und süß,

Schau im Traums Paradies

Good evening, good night,

With roses adorned,

With carnations covered,

Slip under the covers.

Tomorrow morning, if God wants it,

You will wake again.

Good evening, good night.

By angels watched,

Who show you in your dream

The Christ-child’s tree.

Sleep now peacefully and sweetly,

Look in dream’s paradise.

Geuß, lieber Mond,

geuß deine Silberflimmer

Durch dieses Buchengrün,

Wo Phantasien und Traumgestalten immer

Vor mir vorüberfliehn!

Enthülle dich, daß ich die Stätte finde,

Wo oft mein Mädchen saß,

Und oft, im Wehn des Buchbaums

und der Linde,

Der goldnen Stadt vergaß!

Enthülle dich, daß ich des Strauchs mich freue,

Der Kühlung ihr gerauscht,

Und einen Kranz auf jeden Anger streue,

Wo sie den Bach belauscht!

Dann, lieber Mond, dann nimm den

Schleier wieder,

Und traur’ um deinen Freund,

Und weine durch den Wolkenflor hernieder,

Wie ein Verlaßner weint!

Pour, dear moon,

pour your silver shimmer

through the beechtree green,

Where phantasms and dream-shapes always

Float before me!

Reveal yourself, that I may find the place

Where my darling often sat,

And often, in the wind of beech and

linden trees,

Forgot the golden city!

Reveal yourself, that I may enjoy the bushes

Which swept coolness to her,

And that I may scatter a wreath upon that green,

Where she listened to the brook.

Then, dear moon, then take up your

veil again,

And mourn your friend,

And weep through the clouds below,

As one forsaken weeps!