Matthias Goerne

Matthias Goerne


• Born 1967

Editor's Choice

German baritone Matthias Goerne has been a mainstay of lieder recitals and festivals since the 1990s, winning plaudits for his performances of songs by, among others, Schubert and Schumann. He’s also a regular on the operatic stage, choosing his roles carefully and making Wagnerian characters a particular specialism. He was born in the German city of Weimar and went on to study in Leipzig with two legends of singing, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elizabeth Schwartzkopf. Like them, Goerne has recorded many of the classics of German song, and in 2019 tackled Robert Schumann’s first Liederkreis cycle, one of the composer’s two sets of songs from 1840 based on poems by Heinrich Heine. That year, Schumann dedicated himself to vocal music, including the Kernerlieder also featured here, leading to the period being dubbed “the year of song” by later biographers.


Baritone Matthias Goerne has been noted for his interpretations of German lieder and orchestral song. He has also had success in a variety of operatic roles, both mainstream and contemporary, and not all of them in German.

Goerne was born in Weimar, then in East Germany, on March 31, 1967. He sang youth roles with the Weimar City Opera. Goerne studied in Leipzig with Hans-Joachim Beyer, and then with the cream of the German lieder singers of the day, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and took several major competition prizes before singing in Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, under legendary conductor Kurt Masur in 1990. He made his operatic debut in 1992 in Cologne, in Hans Werner Henze's opera Der Prinz von Homburg. Another break was a prominent substitute appearance, in Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, for the ailing Fischer-Dieskau, in 1997. He has often sung vocal parts in works by Mahler.

A cast member at the Dresden Staatsoper for many years, Goerne has appeared increasingly often at other houses. He made his Covent Garden debut as Wozzeck in Berg's opera of the same name in 2002, and the role of Marcello in Puccini's La bohème, in Italian, is part of his repertory. Goerne was an artist-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic for the 2018-2019 season, and in 2019 he made return visits to the Salzburg Festival in Austria. Goerne has performed many recitals devoted to the German lied, and among his major recording projects is a 12-volume Schubert edition that appeared on the Harmonia Mundi label between 2008 and 2014.

Goerne's recording catalog is large and includes albums on Decca, Hyperion, and other labels, in addition to Harmonia Mundi. As his voice has deepened, he has essayed Wagnerian roles and issued the album The Wagner Project in 2017. On Harmonia Mundi, he was heard on a recording of Brahms' A German Requiem, Op. 45, in 2019, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Also, in 2019, he released an album of Schumann lieder with Leif Ove Andsnes that was nominated for a Grammy award.