Marga Höffgen

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Marga Höffgen
Born (1921-04-26)26 April 1921
Mülheim, Germany
Died 7 July 1995(1995-07-07) (aged 74)
Müllheim, Germany
Occupation Classical contralto

Marga Höffgen (26 April 1921 – 7 July 1995) was a German contralto, known for singing oratorio, especially the Passions by Johann Sebastian Bach, and operatic parts such as Erda in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, performed at the Bayreuth Festival and Covent Garden Opera in London between 1960 and 1975.


Born into a merchant family to parents Friedrich Höffgen (1899-1944) and her mother Maria, née von Eicken (1898-1944) in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Höffgen was 17 when she started studying at the Folkwangschule in Essen with Anna Erler-Schnaudt. Two years later, in 1939, she continued at the Musikhochschule Berlin with Hermann Weißenborn until 1942.[1] In 1943, she was contracted by the Staatsoper Dresden, but did not start because she was pregnant with her second child.[2]

She made her concert debut in Berlin in 1952. She was noticed internationally when she performed the alto part in Bach's St Matthew Passion in Vienna in 1955, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.[2]

She was identified with the part of Erda in Wagner's Das Rheingold and Siegfried, sung first in 1959 at Covent Garden in London, and repeated at the Vienna State Opera and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires until 1975. She sang this role at the Bayreuth Festival 1960 to 1964 and 1967 to 1975, from 1964-1975 also the First Norn in Götterdämmerung.[2] She died in Müllheim/Breisgau.[2][3]


During the 1950s and 1960s, Höffgen was a soloist in recordings of Bach's major works with renowned conductors, soloists and ensembles.[3] She recorded Bach's Mass in B minor with Karajan in 1953, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Nicolai Gedda and Heinz Rehfuss. In 1954 she recorded the St Matthew Passion with conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, Anton Dermota as the Evangelist, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as vox Christi, Elisabeth Grümmer and Otto Edelmann. In 1955 she appeared in the St John Passion, conducted by Fritz Lehmann, with Uta Graf, Julius Patzak, Gérard Souzay and Walter Berry. In 1965 she sang the contralto arias in the two famous Bach's Passions with Eugen Jochum and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. She appeared in Bach cantata recordings in the series of Kurt Thomas, Fritz Werner and Helmuth Rilling.[3]

She recorded the role of Third Lady in Otto Klemperer's recording of The Magic Flute (starring Nicolai Gedda and Gundula Janowitz), which has been available since the vinyl days.

In 1978, she recorded Requiem compositions by Max Reger, including his Hebbel-Requiem and the unfinished Dies Irae, with the NDR Chor and the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Roland Bader.[4]

Personal life[edit]

In 1941, at 20 years of age she married conductor Theodor Egel (1915-1993) while still in Mülheim an der Ruhr. She had 4 children, Hans-Peter (1941), Martin (1944), Barbara and Thomas (1947).[2]


In 1976, Höffgen was named Kammersängerin by the state of Baden-Württemberg. She received the Order of Merit First Class in 1988.[2]


  1. ^ "Marga Höffgen" (in German). Bayreuth Festival. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ferdinand, Horst. "Marga Höffgen in Baden-Württembergische Biographien" (in German). pp. 152–154. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Marga Höffgen (Contralto)". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Reger: Requiem, Dies Irae, Etc / Bader, NDR Hamburg". Arkivmusic. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 


  • Ruhrpreis für Kunst und Wissenschaft 1962-1974, Stadt Mülheim an der Ruhr (ed.), pp. 47–50

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