Bruno Heydrich

Bruno Heydrich was one of the first singer to study in Bayreuth without even being considered for a part. He was one of the smartest and most interesting stage performer. Unfortunately for a great career, he did not have a voice that matched his musical and dramatic talents.

Heydrich was born on February 23rd., 1863 in Leuben. In 1879, he entered the conservatory in Dresden and studied violin, Tenor horn and tuba. He finished with distinction in 1882 his double bass diploma. Following the advice of Franz Wüllner, Heydrich studied voice. His voice seemed to have been better than his reputation otherwise he would not have received free scholarship. He started as Bariton and under Professor Scharfe changed up to tenor. In 1882, he finished his studies with prizes in composition, piano and double bass. He became musician with the orchestra at the theatre in Meiningen. In 1883, he played the double bass in Dresden and continued his singing lessons with Feodor von Milde. von Milde, the first Telramund and a musical authority in Weimar, used the change of director at the Hoftheater to recommend his star student. After guest appearances, as Lohengrin and Faust during May 1887, Heydrich received a two years contract. Apparently, Bronsart, the director, hoped for a further development of the 24 years old tenor. The voice gained in power, but the timbre remained the same. In 1889, Heydrich moved to Magdeburg. There he was the first Tristan on March 27th., 1890 before moving at the end of the season to Stettin.

In 1890, he studied roles in Bayreuth, one year to late. In 1889, Heydrich would have the opportunity to replace the always sick van Dijck or replaced the often canceling Gudehus. This did not happen in 1890, and he left Bayreuth without having sung on stage. Via Stettin, and Aachen, Heydrich after guest appearances as Lohengrin, Tannhäuser and Tristan, arrived in Köln in 1892 under bad condition. He did not succeed to replace Willi Birrenkoven. In his memoirs published in 1947. Bruno Walter wrote the following:

He sang Tristan, Siegmund, and the two Siegfried. He had a powerful voice without charm. He was a competent actor. He was a tall, graceless man with a strange character for some reason. The Nazi murderer Reinhold Heydrich was the son of this man. I often thought about that man, who was not a devil, that destiny chose to generate a monster.

Better as his singing, Heydrich was a successful composer in Köln. His opera Amen had great success on November 22nd., 1895. Heydrich, as a singer, could not either in Köln or or his next stop in Braunschweig stay long. Fitz Hartmann wrote in 1906 in the following:

Bruno Heydrich (Debut roles Siegfried, Tristan and Prophète) was not capable of replacing his predecessors. While Schroetter created a furor with his notes, his voice was baritonal. He replaced his lack of high notes with a high degree of musicality, and great acting capabilities. This did not convince the majority of people. Bruno Heydrich was a real musician whose one act opera Amen confirmed the next year that he was a composer.

Curiously in 1895, Heydrich sang the only time in a foreign contry as guest in Anvers not as a Wagner hero but as Turiddu and Don José, parts that did not suit him. In 1897, he produced his opera Amen in Braunschweig, where he sang the main role. The Allgemeine Musikzeitung wrote in 1898:

When many miss the clear, metallic tenor sound, the artist replaces those defects with inspired musical creative power of the part and good acting.

During 1898 to 1900, Heydrich was Heldentenor in Halle, where he finally settled for good. He opened a private school for music and theater. In 1901, the school became a conservatory and in 1906 received a state concession. In the mean time, he had given up his career. A curiosity was in 1900 a Siegfried performance in Osnabrück, the partner of this Siegfried was his brother Franz Heydrich as Mime. Franz Heydrich, born in 1873 in Altenburg was also a better performer than a singer. Heydrich married in 1897, Elisabeth Krantz. His opera Amen was performed in many cities. In 1907, Heydrich's second opera Frieden, was performed in Mainz and in 1914 his third opera Zufall was produced in Halle. Heydrich composed many Lieder, Choral and orchestral works that were performed in other places besides regionally. He died in 1938 in Halle.

Reference: Einhard Luther, Helden and geweihtem Ort, Biogaphie eines Stimmfaches (Teil 2) Wagnertenöre in Bayreuth (1884-1914)

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