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Erik Schmedes

Erik Anton Julius Schmedes (27 August 1868, in Gentofte, Denmark – 23 March 1931, in Vienna) was an operatic tenor, particularly known for his roles in operas by Richard Wagner. He was the brother-in-law of Vaslav Nijinsky's wife.

Schmedes was born into a family of musicians, the most prominent of which was his brother Hakon, a noted violinist and composer. After studying in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, he made his debut as a baritone (following encouragement from Pauline Viardot) in Wiesbaden, in 1891, as the Herald in Lohengrin. He continued to sing as a baritone until 1897. However, after further study with August Iffert in Vienna, his Heldentenor emerged. He made his debut as a tenor in 1898, singing the title role in Siegfried at the Vienna State Opera. His career remained largely based at that opera house, where he was a Kammersänger and one of the most prominent tenors during the years of Gustav Mahler's direction of the company.

Schmedes sang frequently at Bayreuth from 1899 through 1906. He also appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1908–09 season, singing in Die Walküre (with Johanna Gadski, Olive Fremstad, and Louise Homer), Tiefland (the United States premiere, opposite Emmy Destinn), Parsifal, Götterdämmerung (conducted by Arturo Toscanini), and Tristan und Isolde (conducted by Mahler).

Although he primarily sang roles from the Wagnerian repertoire, Schmedes was also an admired interpreter of Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio and the title role of Hans Pfitzner's Palestrina. During his career, he sang 1,130 performances of forty-two roles and recorded for several companies, including Gramophone and Pathé, from 1902 to 1912.

Birth and Death Data: Born August 27th, 1866 (Gentofte Municipality), Died March 21st, 1931 (Vienna)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1904

Roles Represented in DAHR: tenor vocal


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Gramophone 2445h 10-in. Oct. 1904 Arie des Dalibor Erik Schmedes Tenor vocal solo, with vocal chorus and piano vocalist, tenor vocal  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Schmedes, Erik," accessed September 21, 2021,

Schmedes, Erik. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

"Schmedes, Erik." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 21 September 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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