As summer rolls around, invariably, thoughts turn to Bayreuth where Peter Hofmann enjoyed so many of his career successes. Fritz Hofmann shares this new excerpt from his book about a joke the cast of Die Walküre played on Peter during rehearsals for the Ring cycle. The accompanying illustration is a lovely oil painting done by one of Peter’s fans. You can read the chapter (# 11) here.
This month we add to Peter Hofmann’s Private Photo Gallery two images from Fritz Hofmann’s archive. (Click here.) The first shows their mother Inge standing front of the lovely house in Marienbad where Peter was born and the second depicts Fritz and Peter as boys. Enjoy!
Fritz Hofmann has added his story about his and Peter’s magical time living at Schloss Schönreuth. Click here and scroll to # 10 to read about the purchase of the mansion, its renovation, and the happy days spent there. We have also added a few new photos to the personal gallery. Enjoy!
Fritz Hofmann has shared several new photographs of Peter in casual moments. He is shown playing the horn with members of the Bayreuth orchestra, in “smoking” for a gala affair, and in this lovely family portrait of Peter, Fritz, and their mother, Inge. Click HERE to view them.
Fritz Hofmann shared this Hörzu article about the family’s vacation to Tenerife in the 1980’s:
When I Sing, I Must Be in Top Shape!
Star tenor takes a holiday with wife Deborah Sasson on Tenerife, Hörzu’s Chief reporter Karin von Faber visits with him.
I meet Peter Hofmann at the swimming pool where a fountain splashes. He gently shakes the splash of warm water from his jeans. At 43, Hofmann says “This is the best time for a Wagner singer.”
Between two Meistersinger performances, he is taking a little holiday in Tenerife at the fitness center, Mar y Sol, deep in the south of the island where the dry air is like no where else and is perfect medicine for the bronchial tubes. Brother Fritz, his manager, and wife Deborah Sasson (33), dancer and singer from Boston, are with him. READ MORE in PRESS.
As I reminisce, it is the small things and the seemingly unimportant events and wonderful experiences I will surely never forget.
Before an important concert of a big opera performance Peter could, without any difficulty, fall into a deep sleep in his dressing room. My responsibility was to insure that in no circumstances was he to be disturbed by anyone. Whether there were 500 or 5000 spectators in the auditorium, I often had to work hard to wake him before the performance and send him onto the stage. This was all very incomprehensible to me, because unlike Peter, I was always get more and more nervous as the performance grew nearer.
One could turn Peter on like a light switch and after he had sung a few notes, he became completely focused on his task and his voice. I always admired this ability in my brother/
Perhaps while sleeping he was dreaming of his role and his text. I was never able to find out if that were so.
Without a doubt, and not only because of his voice, Peter was an exceptional person equipped with unbelievable abilities. To this day, I cannot deny that I am proud to be his “little brother.”
— Fritz Hofmann, November 29, 2015
For Fritz and Peter’s German-speaking friends, we provide the original text, as well:
Nun sind schon wieder fünf Jahre vergangen, da mein Bruder nicht mehr unter uns ist.
Zahlreiche Erinnerungen kommen mir immer wieder ins Gedächtnis, wenn ich unsere gemeinsamen Zeiten revue passieren lasse.
Die Kleinigkeiten und scheinbar unwichtigen Begebenheiten und wunderbaren Erlebnisse werde ich wohl niemals vergessen, denn sie haben maßgeblich mein Leben geprägt.
Vor einem wichtigen Konzert oder einer großen Opernaufführung konnte Peter ohne Probleme im Tiefschlaf in seiner Garderobe liegen. Meine Aufgabe hingegen bestand darin, dafür zu sorgen, dass er auf keinen Fall und von niemandem gestört wurde.
Egal ob 500 oder 5000 Besucher im Zuschauerraum saßen, ich hatte oft Mühe ihn vor der Aufführung wach zu bekommen um ihn auf die Bühne zu schicken. Mir war dies alles sehr unverständlich, denn im Gegensatz zu Peter wurde ich immer nervöser je näher sein Auftritt nahte.
Peter konnte man jedoch einschalten wie einen Lichtschalter und nach ein paar Tönen Einsingen war er voll konzentriert bei der Sache und Stimme.
Diese Fähigkeit habe ich immer sehr an meinem Bruder bewundert.
Vielleicht stellte er sich immer nur schlafend und hat nur seine Rollen und Texte durchgeträumt.
Ich habe es nie herausfinden können.
Ohne jeden Zweifel, und nicht nur wegen seiner Stimme, war Peter ein sehr außergewöhnlicher Mensch mit unglaublich vielen Fähigkeiten ausgestattet.
Bis zum heutigen Tage kann ich nicht leugnen, mit einem gewissen Stolz sein “kleiner” Bruder zu sein.
It is with deepest sorrow that Fritz Hofmann would like to share the news of the passing of his and Peter’s beloved mother Inge at the age of ninety-two. She was a much cherished presence in her sons’ lives and will be deeply missed. Fritz writes:
Liebste Mutter Inge,
Unendlich einsam ist’s ohne Dich geworden. Vieles wollt ich Dir noch sagen, doch der Schmerz hat mich fast gelähmt. Meine Gedanken sind jedoch immer bei Dir. Unvergesslich wunderbar Dein Lächeln, das uns für ewig in Erinnerung bleiben wird. Niemals hast du Deinen einzigartigen Humor und Deine Poesie verloren. Dein freundliches, hilfsbereites Wesen ist unvergesslich. Du wirst in meinem Herzen immer weiterleben. Dein Sohn, Fritz
(It has become endlessly lonely without you. There is so much more I want to say to you, but the sorrow has made it almost impossible. My thoughts are always with you. Your smile was unforgettably wonderful and will remain with us forever. Never did you lose your your unique sense of humor or your poetry. Your friendly, helpful presence is unforgettable. You will live on forever in my heart.)
Other friends have posted condolences and tributes on Fritz’ Facebook page. Among them is this beautiful tribute from soprano Anna Maria Kaufmann and from Sony exeutive Jochen Leuschner:
My deepest sympathy goes to Fritz Hofmann, brother and manager of the late Peter Hofmann for the loss of his most charming beautiful wonderful mother!!!!
May she rest in peace in heaven with her son Peter Hofmann!
Much love always, Anna Maria Kaufmann
When I received this wonderfully evocative photo from Fritz Hofmann, it took me back thirty years to the time I was covering the Metropolitan Opera for several international opera magazines, and among some of the most exciting evenings I experienced were with Peter Hofmann on stage – as Siegmund and as Lohengrin. (An excerpt from my Opéra International from November 5, 1986, review is filed in PRESS.) In that decade, he virtually owned those roles, along with that of Parsifal and Stolzing, and he sang them often in New York, in Washington, D.C., at Bayreuth, and in all the world’s great opera houses. Sadly, so few of these performances have been preserved on video, because Peter was truly a cinematic presence as a singing-actor. The three that remain (the Chéreau Walküre, the Bayreuth Lohengrin, and the Met Lohengrin) still stir the heart in watching and listening to them!
Peter Hofmann would have been 71 on August 22, 2015. Remembering his brother and the great singer, Fritz Hofmann shares another chapter from Marieluise Müller’s book Singen ist wie fliegen. The author traces the explosion of press fascination with Hofmann from the beginning of the 1980s. READ MORE here.
This month the Bayreuth Festival will open with Tristan und Isolde, followed by Lohengrin. The lovely tribute received recently from a French admirer of Peter Hofmann’s art reminded me of the power of a presence like Peter’s to inspire the admiration and awe that great art always does. It has been twenty-five years since Peter filmed the Chéreau Walküre in 1980, twenty-nine since his debut as Siegmund. He went on to become the Lohengrin, Parsifal, Stolzing, Tristan, and , of course, Siegmund of the next dozen years on the Green Hill. If régisseurs like Hans Neuenfels are shaking the foundations of Wagner’s Festspilehaus today, one must remember how revolutionary Patrice Chéreau’s Ring was and how transformative Peter’s (and his colleagues like Jeannine Altmeyer, Gwyneth Jones, Donald McIntyre and all that Ring cast) performance was! In looking back at my own visits to Bayreuth, I treasure a little memory of a morning my husband and I visited Wahnfried, Wagner’s home. We were able to sit in the great music salon and request the playing of a recording of the Meister’s music. We chose Peter’s Grail Narration and settled back in the seats to listen. From the first mystical tones to the last proud declaration, his reading sent shivers through us. There in that magical instant the music was transcendent, joining the present to the past and, as Wagner would surely have wished, reaching into the future.