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Wolfgang Holzmair is a baritone, especially noted for his art song recitals. He received his university education at the Vienna University of Economics. After graduating, he began voice studies at the Vienna Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. In 1981 he won second prize at the 's-Hertogenbosch Competition in the Netherlands, and won the Vienna Musikverein International Competition for Lieder Singers in 1982.
During the 1980s he developed his operatic career, singing in Bern, Switzerland, and Gelsenkirchen (Germany). He began as a Mozart specialist, portraying Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and Papageno in The Magic Flute. But his first wide success came after he sang the part of Hans Scholl in Udo Zimmerman's opera about the wartime anti-Nazi resistance movement in Germany, Die weiße Rose. Engagements at the Zurich Opera, the Lisbon Opera House, and the Salzburg Festival followed.
He is particularly noted as Debussy's Pelléas. The unusual portions of his repertory include Busoni's Arlecchino (as Abbate), Haydn's L'anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice in the part of Creonte, and Poulenc's Les mamelles de Terésias. He also enjoys singing operetta.
By the 1990s he began making his reputation as a leading Lieder singer. His initial repertoire consisted of the core German Lieder and French mélodie literature, as well as the orchestral songs of Mahler; as a concert singer, he also specializes in Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins, Brahms' Requiem, and Britten's War Requiem.
In 1993 Holzmair signed as an exclusive artist for the Philips label. His recording of the Brahms German Requiem, Herbert Blomstedt conducting, won a Grammy. In the years since 2000, Holzmair has considerably expanded his repertoire, adding premieres of several contemporary works to his schedule as well as orchestrated songs of Brahms.