Born in Matzleinsdorf, near Vienna, he studied in Vienna with Elisabeth Radó, and while still a student toured Holland with an operetta troup. He made his operatic debut in Vienna, as Gounod's Faust in 1952, and then sang in Graz (1952–53), in Luzern (1953–54), in Oberhausen (1954–56), in Wuppertal (1956–58). In 1957, he began making guest appearances at the Munich State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, also appearing at the Salzburg Festival and the Bayreuth Festival.
He began his career by singing lyric roles and lighter Wagner roles such as Erik in Der fliegende Holländer, Loge in Rheingold, First Knight in Parsifal, and gradually moved into heldentenor roles such as Tristan, Siegmund, Stolzing, Florestan, Herod, etc.
He sang widely in Europe, appearing at the Paris Opéra, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Liceo in Barcelona, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Royal Opera House in London, etc. He was also invited at the San Francisco Opera and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.