Early life 
He was born in Linz, Austria, to Elisabeth Seifferth, an actress who played soubrette roles at the local theatre. His father, Richard Anton Tauber, also an actor, was not married to his mother and was unaware of the birth as he was touring America at the time. Being born out of wedlock, he was given the name Richard Denemy (Denemy being his mother's maiden name). He also used the names Ernst Seiffert, Carl Tauber and C. Richard Tauber at various times.
Richard accompanied his mother on tour to various theatres but she found it increasingly difficult to cope, and in 1897 he was sent to school in Linz, when his father took over his upbringing. His father, who was born Jewish  but had converted to Roman Catholicism, hoped that Richard would become a priest, but the boy missed the excitement of the theatre and instead joined his father in Prague, and subsequently in 1903 at the theatre in Wiesbaden. Richard hoped to become a singer but failed to impress any of the teachers he auditioned for, probably because he chose to sing Wagner, for which his voice was not suited. Consequently, his father entered him at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt to study piano, composition and conducting, subjects which stood Tauber in good stead in later years. He made rapid progress but he still hoped to become a singer; whilst staying with friends at Freiburg he was heard by the well-known voice teacher Professor Carl Beines, who encouraged him to sing more quietly and promised a good career as a Mozart tenor.
Early career 
He made his public debut at a concert at Freiburg on 17 May 1912. In 1912 his father was appointed Intendant of the Municipal Theatre in Chemnitz and was therefore in a position to arrange for Richard to appear as Tamino in The Magic Flute on 2 March 1913. A few days later he played Max in Der Freischütz, a performance which was attended by Baron Seebach of the Dresden Opera who had already offered Tauber a five-year contract, commencing on 1 August. The Baron encouraged Tauber to take small roles with other companies to broaden his experience.
During his years in Dresden, Tauber acquired his reputation as a remarkably quick study: he learned Gounod's Faust in 48 hours, Bacchus in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos in an afternoon, and so on. People started to call him "the SOS Tenor".
In 1922, Tauber signed a contract with the Vienna State Opera and appearances with the Berlin State Opera followed; for many years he appeared with both companies – four months with each, leaving four months for concerts and guest appearances with other companies and touring abroad. He sang the tenor role in many operas, including Don Giovanni, The Bartered Bride, Tosca, Mignon, Faust, Carmen and Die Fledermaus, as well as newer works such as Erich Korngold's Die tote Stadt and Wilhelm Kienzl's Der Evangelimann. It was in June 1919 that he made the first of over seven hundred grammophone records. All his vocal recordings were made for the Odeon Records label, and after 1933 for the associated Parlophone label.
Tauber had a lyrical, flexible tenor voice, and he sang with a warm, elegant legato. His excellent breath control gave him a wonderful head voice and messa di voce with a superb pianissimo. He was elegant in appearance too – although he had a slight squint in his right eye; he disguised it by wearing a monocle which, when accompanied by a top hat, added to the elegant effect. For many people he became the epitome of Viennese charm.
Tauber first performed in an operetta by Franz Lehár in Linz and Berlin, both in 1920, in Zigeunerliebe. Two years later he was offered the role of Armand in Lehár's Frasquita at the Theater an der Wien, and the experience was a resounding success. This excursion into operetta was looked down on by some, but it did Tauber no harm at all; in fact, it gave Tauber a new audience. Neither did it harm his voice as some had feared – Tauber was too fine a musician to indulge in poor vocal practices in pursuit of popularity. It also revived Lehár's flagging career as a composer of operetta. In the future, Lehár composed a number of operettas with roles written specifically for Richard Tauber, including Paganini (1925 – though he was not available for the Vienna premiere, and first sang it in Berlin in 1926), Der Zarewitsch (1927), Friederike (1928), The Land of Smiles (1929), Schön ist die Welt (1930), and Giuditta (1934). These usually occurred in the second act and were informally known as Tauberlieder. Tauber occasionally appeared in films, such as the early German sound film I Kiss Your Hand, Madame (1929) with Marlene Dietrich and Harry Liedtke.
When in Vienna, Tauber also conducted at the Theater an der Wien, and it was here in 1924 that he met the soprano Carlotta Vanconti who soon divorced her Italian husband and married Tauber on 18 March 1926. They separated in 1928 and divorced later the same year in Berlin. But the divorce was recognised only in Germany. In 1929 he met Mary Losseff at Rudolf Nelson's review in Berlin. They lived together for about five years. Losseff became his muse; it was for her that he wrote Der singende Traum. Sadly, Losseff's career ended when she became an alcoholic, but Tauber remained her lifelong friend and supported her until his death.
In 1931, Tauber made his London debut in operetta, and London appearances became a regular event; he also toured the USA in this year. In 1933, Tauber was assaulted in the street by a group of Nazi Brownshirts because of his Jewish ancestry, and he decided to leave Germany for his native Austria, where he continued to sing at the Vienna State Opera right up to the Anschluss in March 1938. In the mid-1930s, he made several musical films in England, and at the premiere of her film Mimi in April 1935, he met the English actress Diana Napier (1905–1982); they were married on 20 June 1936, only after protracted legal proceedings to secure an Austrian divorce from Vanconti. Napier appeared in three of his British films: Heart's Desire (1935), Land Without Music and Pagliacci (both 1936).
Later career 
In 1938, he made his London operatic debut in Die Zauberflöte under Sir Thomas Beecham. Earlier that year, the Nazi government of Germany annexed Austria and Tauber left Austria for good. In response, the Nazi government withdrew the Taubers' passports and right of abode; because this left the couple technically stateless persons, Tauber applied for British citizenship. He was touring South Africa when World War II broke out, and returned to Switzerland until he received the papers allowing him to enter the United Kingdom, doing so in March 1940.
Despite receiving lucrative offers from the USA, he remained in the UK for the entire war. There was no opera staged in wartime Britain so he made a living by singing, conducting and making gramophone records and radio broadcasts. He even composed English operettas, together with the lyric writer Fred S. Tysh, from one of which, Old Chelsea, the song My Heart and I became one of his most popular English recordings. It was only these English records that brought him any royalties; for his earlier recordings he had been paid for each performance and he had been compelled to leave his savings behind in Austria. By now he was so crippled by arthritis that he could no longer move into and away from the microphone for softer and louder notes. A small trolley was built on rubber wheels so the engineers could silently roll him back and forth while recording.
In 1946, Tauber appeared in a Broadway adaptation of The Land of Smiles (This is my Heart) which flopped, leaving him with huge personal losses and in debt to the backers. He was thus forced to tour the USA, Canada, Central and South America for six months to recoup losses, with Arpad Sandor, George Schick and Neil Chotem serving as his accompanists. In April 1947, Tauber returned to London and sought medical attention for a persistent cough. He was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer: one lung was already useless and the other nearly so.
The Vienna State Opera was in London for a short season at the Royal Opera House – their first visit since the war – and they invited Tauber to sing one performance with his old company. On 27 September 1947 he sang the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, not a large part but with two difficult arias that demand good breath control to bring off well. Those in the audience say that he sang wonderfully and to loud applause. Live excerpts of these two arias from this performance survive, and they reveal a tone of undiminished focus and steadiness, a good line, and somewhat shortened phrasing. His career ended as it began – with Mozart.
A week later, Tauber entered Guy's Hospital to have his left lung removed, but it was too late; he died on 8 January 1948 in the London Clinic, Devonshire Place. Tauber's Requiem Mass was at St. James' Church, Spanish Place, and he is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.
Selected filmography 
- I Kiss Your Hand, Madame (1929)
- Ich glaub nie mehr an eine Frau (1930)
- Das lockende Ziel (1930)
- Das Land des Lächelns (1930)
- Die grosse Attraktion (1931)
- Melodie der Liebe (1932)
- Blossom Time (1934)
- Heart's Desire (1935)
- Pagliacci (1936)
- Land Without Music (1936)
- Waltz Time (1945)
- Lisbon Story (1946)
- Slonimsky, Nicolas; Theodore Baker (1992). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. New York, New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-872415-1.
- "Richard Tauber" by Stefan Frey (2009), University of Hamburg (German)
- James Dennis in The Record Collector, XVIII/247, 1969
- Diana Napier Tauber, Richard Tauber, A&E Publishers, Glasgow, 1949;
Willy Korb, Richard Tauber, Europaeschie [sic?] Verlag, Wien, 1966;
Otto Schneidereit: Richard Tauber, VEB Lied der Zeit, Berlin, 1981.
- Brumburgh, Gary. ""Richard Tauber", biography". IMDb. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- Diana Napier Tauber, My Heart and I, Evans Brothers, London, 1959
- Charles Castle, This Was Richard Tauber, WH Allen, London, 1971
- Cor Pot, Richard Tauber: Zanger Zonder Grenzen, CIP, Den Haag, 1988, p. 57
Disambiguation: There are two journals published in England called [The] Record Collector. The reference here is to the [now] quarterly journal for collectors of recorded vocal art founded by James Dennis in 1946, published in Ipswich, and today edited by Larry Lustig in Chelmsford, Essex.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Richard Tauber|
- Richard Tauber at the Internet Movie Database
- Richard Tauber at the Internet Broadway Database
- Das Richard Tauber Archiv (German)
- Greatest Singer?
- Richard Tauber: A Brief Appreciation
- Richard Tauber in Australia
- Photographs of Richard Tauber
- Tauber sings "You Are My Heart's Delight" on YouTube
- History of the Tenor – Sound Clips and Narration
- Richard Tauber at Find a Grave