Alex Ross may have said it best:
A monumental, vastly influential figure is gone. I can’t help feeling shock at the news — a world without Fischer-Dieskau seems foreign and unnerving.
He links to several other appreciations, as well as a fascinating – and sad – interview Fischer-Dieskau gave in 2005.
Fischer-Dieskau was an artist whose impact on generations of musicians, and listeners, was seminal. Leo Carey’s experience was very similar to mine:
It’s one of those deaths that resonate through one for days after, and seem to require some act of personal commemoration. As soon as I heard, I reached down his recordings with Gerald Moore of nearly every song Schubert wrote. I was given this monumental boxed set, twenty-five CDs in all, for my twenty-first birthday, and, with the single-mindedness of someone who doesn’t yet have a job, listened my way through the whole thing. So, like countless people, I got to know German lieder through Fischer-Dieskau, and for me he simply is the voice of Schubert…
My personal favorite performance of his (of the limited subset I know of his immense recorded repertoire, of course) is a recording from the 1960s of Schubert’s Der Wanderer (D. 649) with Gerald Moore.
It’s all there in 3 minutes – the incredible quality of sounding as if he’s speaking while singing (and the precision of the diction), the beautiful sound, the variety in tone colors, and the complete understanding of Schubert’s intentions.