Thomas Hampson

Born 1955

Thomas Hampson

Baritone

Biography

During the next two decades, Hampson performed with the Wiener Staatsoper as Gugliemo, the Metropolitan Opera and the Salzburg Festival in the role of Count Almaviva inLe nozze di Figaro, as Don Giovanni in Zurich and with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Roland in Schubert’sFierrabras, the title role of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patriawith the San Francisco Opera, Billy Budd with the Metropolitan Opera and as Chorèbe in Berlioz’sLes Troyens also with the Metropolitan Opera.

Recordings from this time include La Bohème with Leonard Bernstein. He also began a series of performances and recordings of Mahler songs with Bernstein. He also released his first solo album during this period, in 1990 to be more specific. This album, which featured songs on texts fromDes Knaben Wunderhorn, was released on Teldec and won numerous international awards.

Hampson has performed with many professional orchestras and opened a number of seasons. For instance, in 1991, he opened the New York Philharmonic season in a ‘Live from Lincoln Center’ telecast of Copland’sOld American Songs and the London Philharmonic with Mahler’sLieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. The next year, he opened the Chicago Symphony’s season with Brahm’sEin deutsches Requiem.

Hampson has given the world premiere of many works, including Schumann’s 20 Lieder und Gesänge aus dem Lyrischen Intermezzo im Buch der Lieder von Heinrich Heinein 1992. He had this published as Dichterliebe. In 1994 he made the world premiere recording of this work. He also premiered Richard Danielpour’sElegies for mezzo-soprano, baritone and orchestra in 1998 and sang the title role in the world premiere of Friedrich Cerha’s operaDer Riese vom Steinfeld in 2002, along with Wolfgang Rihm’sSechs Gedichte von Friedrich Nietzsche. More recently, he gave the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’sLetters From Lincoln (2009), Sylvia Bodorová’s orchestral song cycleLinqua Angelorum (2012), Mark Adamo’sAristotle (2013) and South Pole with the Bayerische Staatsoper (2016).

Hailed as ‘one of the world’s greatest opera singers… [with a] voice, a baritone so rich it can circle the universe’ by Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America, Thomas Hampson can be heard on more than 150 recordings. The American baritone has earned a Grammy Award, five Edison Awards and the Grand Prix du Disque. He serves as Special Advisor to the Study of Performance of Music in America at the Library of Congress and appears with orchestras and opera companies worldwide. He holds the titles of Kammersänger of the Vienna State Opera and Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the Republic of France. In addition to his tasks as a singer and recording artist, he is an ‘ambassador of song’, which means that he is also active in research, education, technology and outreach.

Hampson was born in Elkhart, Indiana on 28 June 1955, but raised and educated in the Pacific Northwest in Spokane, Washington. He received a BA degree in Government for Eastern Washington University in Cheney and a BFA in Voice Performance from Fort Wright College, where he studied with Sr. Marietta Coyle.

In 1974, Hampson gave his operatic premiere in a local production of Hänsel und Gretel with the Spokane Symphony under Don Thulean. He continued his vocal studies in the summers of 1978 and 1979 at the Music Academy of the West with Gwendolyn Koldowsky and Martial Singher before winning both the Fuchs and Zachary Competitions in 1980. That same year, he placed second at the San Francisco Merola Auditions and enrolled in the Merola programme with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. More success came in 1980, including singingLa Bohème with the Spokane Symphony and winning a contract with the Düsseldorf opera. He also met Horst Günter, who remains his mentor to this day.

In the early 1980s, Hampson sang the role of Marcello in La Bohème, along with the title role in Hans Werner Henze’sDer Prinz von Homburg in Darmstadt, Guglielmo inCosì fan tutte with the St. Louis Opera and Bach’s St. John Passion under Nikolaus Harnoncourt in Frankfurt. Furthermore, he won an audition with the Metropolitan Opera, became a member of the ensemble of Düsseldorf’s Deutsche Oper am Rhein and made debuts in Köln, Hamburg, Munich and Santa Fe. He also started his engagement as principal lyric baritone for some Harnoncourt-Ponnelle productions at the Zurich opera.

In 2008, Thomas Hampson established his own recording label, Thomas Hampson Media (THS). He has made a number of recordings of works by Gustav Mahler. In 2015, a boxed-set entitledThomas Hampson: Autograph was released by Warner Classics.

Hampson’s most recent activities include a tour of Asia, a European tour with percussionist Martin Grubinger and The Percussive Planet Ensemble and performances with the Opéra de Paris, the San Francisco Opera, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the Jupiter String Quartet.

Hampson has been the recipient of many awards and honours including his 2013 induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Academy of Muisc in London (1996). He was also named ECHO Klassik Singer of the Year in 2011, EMI Artist of the Year in 1997, Male Singer of the Year by the International Classical Music Awards in 1994 and presented the ‘Living Legend’ Award from The Library of Congress (2010). He also received the Cannes Classical Music Award for 1994 Singer of the Year, the Echo Preis for Best Male Singer 1994 and the Austrian Medal of Honour in Arts and Sciences. He has received honorary doctorates from the Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Whitworth College and the San Francisco Conservatory. Additionally, Hampson served as New York Philharmonic’s first Artist-in-Residence and is an honorary professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Heidelberg.

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