ECHO KLASSIK 2017: Brigitte Fassbaender to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Recognition for Fassbaender as an artist who fostered and sustained classical music for decades.

Ceremony on 29th October at Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg hosted by Thomas Gottschalk.

“Best of Klassik 2017” featuring all ECHO KLASSIK prize winners to be released on 13th October.


This year’s ECHO KLASSIK in the “Lifetime Achievement” category will be awarded to singer, director, author and educator Brigitte Fassbaender. She will be honoured as one of the most vital and versatile artistic personalities of our time by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie, the cultural institute of Germany’s Federal Music Industry Association (Bundesverband Musikindustrie, BVMI). On Sunday, 29th October 2017, Fassbaender will be on hand in person to accept the ECHO KLASSIK at a gala ceremony in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Germany’s public TV channel ZDF will broadcast the ceremony hosted by Thomas Gottschalk that same evening starting at 10pm. An overview of all prize winners can be found below as well as online at


“Brigitte Fassbaender has influenced generations of singers. She counts among our most outstanding protagonists of classical music and has worked passionately for years to preserve its legacy and develop it even further”, notes BVMI Managing Director Dr. Florian Drücke. “Her vocal performances shaped the international opera scene and the German, Italian and French repertoire for decades. And then, after taking leave of singing, she continued to set standards and enjoy success as a stage director, festival director and educator. This testifies to her boundless creative strength and her ability to forge new paths in a disciplined and consistent way”.


Born on 3rd July 1939 in Berlin, Brigitte Fassbaender received her early training as a mezzo soprano from her father, the baritone and chamber singer Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. From 1958 to 1961, she studied at the conservatory in Nuremberg. In 1961, she joined the ensemble of the Staatsoper in Munich and also went on to sing at the most important opera houses in the world, including the Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Vienna State Opera and the Opéra National de Paris.

Her vocal interpretations were characterised by a unique combination of exceptional quality and deeply dramatic rendering of each role. She also set new and long-lasting standards as a concert singer and chanteuse. She was the first women to record Franz Schubert’s song cycle and was involved in more than 250 other CD and record productions.


Since retiring from active singing in 1994, Fassbaender has worked as a director of music- and spoken-word theatre. She is also active as a creative director and opera director in Germany and Austria. For example, from 2009 to this past summer, she was the creative director of the Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


Here is an overview of the 2017 ECHO KLASSIK prize winners (in alphabetic order according to categories on


Aida Garifullina
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Brigitte Fassbaender
Camille Thomas | Julien Libeer
Chorus Musicus Köln | Das Neue Orchester | Christoph Spering
Christian Tetzlaff
Daniel Hope
Daniil Trifonov
Die 12 Cellisten der Berliner Philharmoniker
Dominik Wagner
Eva van Grinsven
Fazıl Say
Gábor Boldoczki
Giovanni Antonini | Il Giardino Armonico
Henning Kraggerud  | Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Ian Bostridge
Jan Lisiecki | NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester | Krzysztof Urbański
Johannes Moser
Jonas Kaufmann
Joyce DiDonato
Kent Nagano
Kristian Bezuidenhout | Freiburger Barockorchester | Gottfried von der Goltz
Ksenija Sidorova
L'Achéron | François Joubert-Caillet
Linos Ensemble
Linus Roth | London Symphony Orchestra | Thomas Sanderling
Luca Pisaroni | Christiane Karg |
Sonya Yoncheva |  Thomas Hampson | Rolando Villazón | Chamber Orchestra Of Europe | Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Lucas Debargue
Maria Sournatcheva | Göttinger Symphonie Orchester | Christoph-Mathias Mueller
Marianne Crebassa
Matthias Goerne
Maurizio Pollini
Werner Dabringhaus
Mission Mozart (mit Lang Lang, Wiener Philharmoniker, Nikolaus Harnoncourt; Regie: Christian Berger)
Mozarteumorchester Salzburg | Constantin Trinks
Neeme Järvi | Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Nils Mönkemeyer | Julia Fischer | Sabine Meyer | William Youn
Notos Quartett
Piano Duo Genova & Dimitrov | Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra | Yordan Kamdzhalov
Pretty Yende
Purcell: The Indian Queen (mit MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis; Regie: Peter Sellars)
Quartetto di Cremona
Quatuor Molinari
Renaud Capuçon | Wiener Symphoniker & Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris (Philippe Jordan) | Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Myung-Whun Chung)
RIAS Kammerchor
Roman Trekel | Anne Schwanewilms | Houston Symphony | Hans Graf
Sebastian Knauer | Arash Safaian
Sebastian Manz | SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra | Antonio Méndez
Thomas Fritzsch
Thomas Günther
Wiener Klaviertrio
Yoel Gamzou

“Best of Klassik 2017”: Compilation featuring this year’s ECHO KLASSIK prize winners
“Best of Klassik 2017” will be released in time for the 2017 ECHO KLASSIK ceremony. This extensive compilation captures the board range of contemporary classical music and features leading interpreters of our time in fascinating, prize-winning recordings from the Baroque to the modern era.


DATE: 29th October 2017; TV broadcast on same day at 10 pm on ZDF

LOCATION: Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall, Hamburg

HOST: Thomas Gottschalk

PERFORMING  ARTISTS: Aida Garifullina, Camille Thomas, Daniel Hope, Jonas Kaufmann, Joyce Di Donato, Ksenija Sidorova, Lucas Debargue, Matthias Goerne, Maurizio Pollini, Pretty Yende, Die 12 Cellisten der Berliner Philharmoniker as well as the Philharmonische Staatsorchester Hamburg conducted by Kent Nagano

BACKGROUND: The ECHO KLASSIK is one of the most prestigious music awards in the world. Each year, a virtual who's-who of the international classical music scene attends the glamorous ceremony, which will mark its 24th anniversary in 2017. The gala will take place this year on 29 October in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall. The German TV channel ZDF will broadcast the event that evening at 10 pm.

The ECHO KLASSIK has been organised annually since 1994 by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie, which acts as the cultural arm of the BVMI. The awards honour outstanding performances by national and international artists. The winners are chosen by a jury consisting of prominent industry experts. They key goals of the ECHO KLASSIK are to recognise extraordinary recordings but also to use the prestigious award to foster young talent and bring the fascination and diversity of classical music to a broader audience.