Josef Greindl (23 December 1912 - 16 April 1993) was a German operatic bass.
Josef Greindl was born in Munich and studied at the Munich Music Academy with Paul Bender. His opera debut was in 1936, as Hunding in Wagner's Die Walküre in the State Theatre in Krefeld. He is remembered mainly for his performances in Wagner at Bayreuth, from 1943 onwards. He sang in Wieland Wagner's last Ring. He played the part of King Marke in the 1952 Furtwängler recording of Tristan und Isolde. This vintage recording often appears in critics list of the top 100 greatest recordings, since Kirsten Flagstad was also in the cast. He sang at the Metropolitan Opera in 1952-3. In 1973, he became a professor at the Vienna Hochschule. His daughter Gudrun Greindl Rosner is also a singer.
Josef Greindl had a voice like a gravel quarry—massive, wide, deep, rough, and ancient-sounding, grey-timbred rather than black. From the mid-1940s through the late 1960s he was one of the three or four leading performers of Wagner's and Mozart's big bass roles, possessing the size and strength for the former and the dexterity, brains, and extreme range for the latter. He frequently appeared as Fafner, Hunding, and Hagen in the same performance of the Ring Cycle, which made him the only singer in the cast who had to perform all four nights. His earliest recorded singing was at Bayreuth, as Pogner the goldsmith, a character in his fifties or sixties, in 1943 when he (Greindl) was 31 years old. Although he was not as tall as some other big basses, his stage-presence was formidable.
He was not nearly as well-publicised as his frequent co-star Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but Josef Greindl's recorded repertoire is almost equally wide and full, including besides Mozart and Wagner beyond reckoning, operatic roles by Gluck, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Smetana, Weber, Berg, Orff, and Beethoven; lieder by Schubert and Carl Loewe; and sacred music by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Schubert, and Rossini.
Although he was famous for the low bass parts, his top was very comfortable and he began experimenting with higher roles in the 1960s: Hans Sachs (at which he excelled), the Wanderer in Siegfried, the title character in Der fliegende Holländer and even Don Alphonso in Così fan tutte which is a lyric baritone.
He can be seen on video as Hans Sachs, Hagen (brief excerpts only, sadly), Rocco, and the Commendatore, and as Hunding in a concert performance of Act I of Die Walküre.
Josef Greindl joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazi Party, in 1939. In 1944, Adolf Hitler included him in the Gottbegnadeten list ("God-gifted List"). He died in Vienna, Austria.
- New York Times obituary
- Fred K. Prieberg: Handbuch Deutsche Musiker 1933–1945, CD-Rom-Lexikon, Kiel 2004, p. 2.503.
- Ernst Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich: Wer war was vor und nach 1945, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5, p.197.
- Discography of opera recordings (Capon's Lists of Opera Recordings)
- Obituary, New York Times, April 3, 1993
- On video as the Commendatore
- Recording of Greindl as Hagen