IAN BOSTRIDGE: A rare soul among singers


Schubert Lieder CD1

A short quiz...

Ian Bostridge:
a) has a PhD in the History of Science from Oxford University
b) is the author of a book entitled 'Witchcraft and its Transformations 1650 - 1750'
c) is one of today's leading exponents of the 'Art Song'
d) all of the above

If you answered d) then you must be a Bostridge fan, and will agree how fortunate it is for music lovers - and most especially for lovers of the Art Song - that at an important juncture of his young life he listened to his voice. And heeded its call.

Otherwise, he would today be addressed as Dr. (or Prof.Dr.) Ian Bostridge, perhaps an Oxford don known only to an exclusive coterie of students and other academics devoted to the study of some esoteric aspects of the history of science; or perhaps gainfully employed (or free-lancing) as writer-author-scholar-expert. And fans would have been denied the pleasure of being mystified by the gentle, interesting face that now gazes out of his many CD covers, and by the otherworldly quality of his delicately nuanced voice.

By many accounts, he is one of the finest interpreters of the Art Song among today's generation of singers; but then, he is that rare soul among singers, possessed of an uncommon love of singing at an early age. How often does it happen that a non-German-speaking English boy growing up in the 1970s is beguiled by an early 19th-century German composer (Schubert) and the music (Lieder) he has written for the human voice? Yet that was Bostridge at age 12. And, thanks to a wonderful German teacher whose way of teaching the language was to get his pupils to sing along to Schubert's Erlkönig (the tragic folk story about a little boy and the elf king) and other recordings of baritone Dietrich Fischer-Diskau, by his senior year he had fallen in love with the German language as well.

Singing remained an avocation through university and graduate school: he sang in recitals and concerts and joined and won in competitions. After receiving his PhD in 1990, he worked in television for two years. Then he decided that singing was his true calling. So, he began singing professionally even as he went back to Oxford under a fellowship to transform his doctoral dissertation into a book that was eventually published in 1997.

Bostridge's Wigmore Hall debut in 1993 was followed by a succession of award-winning recital debuts in various halls and festivals of Europe. The rest of the world took notice; his career went on fast track and his repertoire expanded. Today a much sought-after recitalist and recording artist (see his Discography), he sings Art Songs (Lieder, French melodies and many somewhat neglected English songs) and sacred music most of the time, and opera some of the time--which is the way he seems to like it.

Although his early inspiration was Fischer-Diskau, his current repertoire--which has more than a sprinkling of works by Benjamin Britten--is more reminiscent of the legendary British tenor Peter Pears'. His operatic repertoire includes Ades' The Tempest, Britten's Death in Venice, The Rape of Lucretia, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Turn of the Screw; Handel's Semele; Janacek's The Diary of One Who Disappeared; Monteverdi's L'Orfeo; Mozart's Don Giovanni, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Idomeneo; Purcell's Dido and Aeneas; Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress; and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (a September 2005 release in which he sings, no, not Tristan - that's for Placido Domingo to sing - but the minor role of The Shepherd).

A legend in the making? It's still a bit too early to say. But surely, something must have rubbed off on the young academic as he delved more deeply than others into the history of witchcraft and man's belief in the existence of spirits. Dr. Ian Bostridge, tenor, said to be the most spiritual of singers, surely knows how to cast a magic spell!

- GJCajipe © FanFaire


In the 2005-2006 season, fans in North America had more than a passing opportunity to witness Ian Bostridge's artistry live. From September 20 - October 7, 2005 he took his Schubert Recital Tour with long-time collaborator, pianist Julius Drake to six American and two Canadian cities. And His own "Perspectives" series at Carnegie Hall in New York City took place in March - May 2006.





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About IAN BOSTRIDGE

DISCOGRAPHY

DIE SCHÖNE MÜLLERIN

SCHUBERT & LIEDER

A SCHUBERT CHRONOLOGY

ART SONGS & SONG CYCLES





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