To be clear, this post is not about an adaptation. Instead, I would like to highlight another professional musician, bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff. Although he retired from public performance in 2012, Quasthoff had a prolific performing and recording career. He continues to teach, and judging from videos of his masterclasses, his students are undoubtedly lucky to study with him.
Quasthoff was born with limb differences caused by his mother’s exposure to thalidomide. His arms are short and he is missing several fingers. Quasthoff was denied entrance into music conservatories in German because of his inability to play the piano proficiently. (What would these conservatories say today, now that Quasthoff is one of the most celebrated singers in the world?) Like so many musicians with physical differences, Quasthoff was committed to pursuing his art, regardless of what others thought of him. He studied voice privately, won the ARD International Music Competition, and launched his career.
Quasthoff is admired for his interpretations of German lieder and Bach as well as for his jazz improvisations. I had the great pleasure of hearing him perform Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Berlin Philharmonic years ago, which was one of the most beautiful and memorable concerts I have ever attended. Quasthoff’s artistry is genuine and sublime.
Quasthoff wrote a memoir of his life called The Voice.
There are many videos of Quasthoff online, including videos of his collaborations with everyone from Bryn Terfel to Bobby McFerrin. Enjoy this recording of Robert Schumann’s Widmung!