Sebastian Peschko

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Sebastian Peschko (1939)

Sebastian Peschko (30 October 1909 – 29 September 1987) was a German classical pianist specialised in the art form of lieder and as such was partner to some of the foremost lyrical singers of the 20th century.

Life and career[edit]

Sebastian Peschko was born in Berlin, the son of the organist and private lecturer Paul Peschko. From 1927 to 1933 he studied at the Hochschule für Musik (today: Berlin University of the Arts), since 1930 supported by a Bechstein scholarship. During that period he was a student of the great Edwin Fischer. In 1933 Peschko won the prestigious Mendelssohn-Award. From 1934 until 1950 he toured and played alongside Germany's foremost lyric baritone singer, Heinrich Schlusnus, all over the world.

Peschko was highly regarded as the piano partner of many eminent singers, amongst many others: Theo Altmeyer, Erna Berger, Walter Berry, Rudolf Bockelmann, Grace Bumbry, Franz Crass, Lisa Della Casa, Karl Erb, Nicolai Gedda, Agnes Giebel, Ernst Haefliger, Ilse Hollweg, Werner Hollweg, Heinz Hoppe, Christa Ludwig, Maria Müller, Hermann Prey, Ruth-Margret Pütz, Walther Pützstück, Erna Sack, Hanna Schwarz, Franz Völker, Bernd Weikl and Marcel Wittrisch.

From early onwards Peschko developed the status of the lieder-pianist from one of a mere subordinate/supporter to that of an equal partner of the singers. He didn't simply provide a layer of sound but rather built and created the foundation for each lied. His big, strong hands were those of a sculptor in which the keys turned into building material. Out of this sound material the lied was created, every one different according to situation, density and cadence of sounds and words. Artistically Peschko was a genuine person of the quiet sounds, and of seemingly fragile, yet insistent and durable creation, a maestro of the finest nuances.

Peschko also played chamber music; best known are his projects with violinist Georg Kulenkampff and cellists Enrico Mainardi and Hans Adomeit.

From 1953 to 1958 Peschko was responsible for lieder, choir and church music at Radio Bremen. In 1958 Rolf Liebermann created a new department, lieder, at the Norddeutscher Rundfunk especially for Peschko. There Peschko would finally settle down and work for the next decades. Amongst being producer, creative artist and journalist he also invented the well known format: "Meister des Liedes" (Masters of lieder). Many famous singers of the 20th century performed for this program.

Peschko performed as tutor for lieder interpretations at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in the early 1970s. Peschko composed the musical arrangements for 4 poems by Christian Morgenstern, which are best known for being performed by singer Helen Donath and pianist Klaus Donath all over the world.

In 1974 Peschko received one of the highest German badges of honor, the Federal Cross of Merit for his special artistic achievements.

Very early the baritone Thomas Quasthoff was recognized and supported by Peschko.[1]

Peschko died in Celle, Germany in 1987. Peschko had 3 daughters (Franziska, Johanna, Julia) and one son (Peter). Also he had one adopted son Pedro. World-famous dancer and choreographer Susanne Linke is the niece of Sebastian Peschko.

Partial discography[edit]

  • 1975: Heinrich Schlusnus sings lieder by Franz Schubert accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (TELDEC)
  • 1977: Heinrich Schlusnus sings lieder by Robert Schumann accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • 1994: Lisa Della Casa sings lieder by Richard Strauss accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (Sbt)
  • 1999: Heinrich Schlusnus sings lieder accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (Preiser)
  • 2002: Erna Berger sings lieder accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (Orfeo d'Or)
  • 2002: Lisa Della Casa lieder & arias, accompanied by Sebastian Peschko (EMI-Electrola)
  • 2004: Grace Bumbry – early recordings (pianist: Sebastian Peschko) (Deutsche Grammophon)


  1. ^ Michael Quasthoff: Thomas Quasthoff – Der Bariton, Henschel Verlag , Berlin, 2006, S. 46−47, ISBN 978-3-89487-545-9.

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