The History of The Tenor Narrated
The History of Karl Erb
Born: 13 July 1877
Died: 13 July 1958
Karl Erb was a German tenor vocalist who made his career first in opera and then in oratorio and lieder recital. He excelled in all these genres, and before 1920 gave classic performances of key roles in modern works, and created lead roles in those of Hans Pfitzner. He was the first husband of Maria Ivogün and was considered by many the ideal Evangelist in the St Matthew Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Erb was born in Ravensburg. As a child, he was enrolled in the local Liebfrauenkirche charity choir and music class. His mother taught him to love poetry and he excelled at school. His voice did not break abruptly, but deepened and intensified to a beautiful and spiritual timbre. He was sought out for private musical events and performed in amateur theatre at the Ravensburg Konzerthaus. He later worked at Wolfegg and at Rot as cashier for the State Gas and Waterworks. In 1902, the Konigliche Hoftheater in Stuttgart burnt down, and the company worked temporarily in Ravensburg. Erb, assisting the choir in Cavalleria rusticana, was noticed by Joachim Gans zu Putlitz. Von Putlitz had been appointed Theatre Intendant at Munich long before through the personal efforts of Richard and Cosima Wagner, cf Ernest Newman,and offered a chance to sing solo. He declined, but further offers were made.