Legendary DG Artists

A family made up of the world's finest classical musicians

Claudio Abbado and Berlin Philharmonic - Brahms (1967) by © Max JacobyDeutsche Grammophon

Claudio Abbado

Incredible precision in every musical detail, total clarity of formal structure, and polyphonic transparency were the principal characteristics of Claudio Abbado’s conducting. Abbado made his first recording for Deutsche Grammophon in 1967: benchmark readings of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 with Martha Argerich. His numerous recordings over the following decades include the complete symphonic works of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Ravel and Schubert, as well as more than a dozen complete operas.

Claudio Abbado (2008) by © Max JacobyDeutsche Grammophon

Gustavo Gimeno, Abbado’s last assistant, remembers how, even more than in the past, the conductor would avoid subdividing the beat: “He conducted with broad, slow movements, with a long musical line, trying to create a form in which the musical discourse could develop. Slow, but flowing.”

Claudio Abbado - Schumann (2012/2013)Deutsche Grammophon

Claudio Abbado conducting Schumann

Amadeus Quartet by © Reinhart WolfDeutsche Grammophon

Amadeus Quartet

Across the span of a remarkable 40-year career, the Amadeus Quartet achieved legendary status. The ensemble touched countless lives with profound interpretations of the core Austro-German string quartet repertoire and created a legacy of great recordings against which all others are still measured. 

Amadeus Quartet (1948)Deutsche Grammophon

Mozart: Ein musikalischer Spass, K.522 - 2. Menuetto (Maestoso)

The line-up of the Amadeus Quartet, whose members referred to themselves as the “Wolf-Gang”, remained unchanged throughout its history.

Amadeus Quartett by © Manchester DailyDeutsche Grammophon

The Amadeus Quartet made their first DG recordings in 1951. In 1959, having already recorded Brahms, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert, they embarked on a complete stereo recording of the Beethoven quartets. The ensemble disbanded in 1987 following the death of violist Peter Schidlof.

Martha Argerich (1985) by © Susesch BayatDeutsche Grammophon

Martha Argerich

Like Horowitz, Cziffra, Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix, Martha Argerich belongs to that breed of performers who have a wonderfully natural rapport with their instrument. When she plays the piano, it’s no longer just a piano: it becomes a violin, a harp, a clarinet, or the whole crashing orchestra together. It was in 1960 that DG signed an exclusive agreement with Martha Argerich, one of a number of leading pianists who were to join the label over the following decades.

Martha Argerich by © Erich AuerbachDeutsche Grammophon

Gidon Kremer, Martha Argerich: Beethoven - Sonata For Violin And Piano No.7 In C Minor, Op.30 No.2 - 1. Allegro con brio

When Argerich was fourteen, she left Argentina for Vienna to study with Friedrich Gulda, to whom she represented “the complete artist”.

Claudio Abbado & Martha Argerich (1967) by © Ilse BuhsDeutsche Grammophon

Arguably still the most famous female pianist in the world, Martha Argerich is more than just an outstanding musician: she’s a legend in her own lifetime. Her exceptional pianism is particularly beautifully captured in the recordings she made for Deutsche Grammophon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Martha Argerich & Claudio Abbado (2004) by © Marco Caselli NirmalDeutsche Grammophon

Argerich and Abbado together in a recording of two Mozart piano concertos

Daniel Barenboim (2001) by © Susesch BayatDeutsche Grammophon

Daniel Barenboim

No other living musician draws on such seemingly unlimited resources as Daniel Barenboim. Not only does he enjoy a twin perspective on music – as both pianist and conductor – but he also commands an enormous repertory that includes orchestral music and operas and extends from Bach to Boulez.

Daniel Barenboim (2012) by © Felix BroedeDeutsche Grammophon

Orchestre de Paris, Daniel Barenboim: Claude Debussy -Nocturnes, L. 91 orchestral version 2. Fêtes

Daniel Barenboim’s long-term association with Deutsche Grammophon began in 1972.

Barenboim and Staatskapelle Berlin (2014) by © Matthias Creutziger / UnitelDeutsche Grammophon

Barenboim is principal conductor of the Berlin Staatskapelle. Under his leadership, the Staatskapelle has worked its way through entire libraries of music scores and in so doing has earned a unique reputation among German orchestras.

Daniel Barenboim - DebussyDeutsche Grammophon

Barenboim on Debussy.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1999)Deutsche Grammophon

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau made his stage debut in 1948 as Posa in Verdi’s “Don Carlos” at what was then the Städtische Oper in Berlin. In 1949 he made his first recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.

Fischer-Dieskau & Karajan (1968) by © Siegfried LauterwasserDeutsche Grammophon

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Wiener Philharmoniker, Leonard Bernstein: Mahler -Das Lied von der - 4. Von der Schönheit

From the start of his career, the young baritone was active not only as a Lieder recitalist but also on stage, over time gaining increasing self-confidence and freedom as an actor.

Barenboim & Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1979) by © Susesch BayatDeutsche Grammophon

His operatic career developed very quickly, and in 1954 he made his Bayreuth debut as Wolfram in “Tannhäuser”. By the time he sang Mandryka in Richard Strauss’s “Arabella” in Munich in 1960, Fischer-Dieskau was already internationally renowned. Other roles for which he was particularly acclaimed include Kurwenal, Wotan, Jokanaan, Barak and Count Almaviva. 

Wilhelm Kempff (1977) by © Siegfried LauterwasserDeutsche Grammophon

Wilhelm Kempff

Pianist and composer Wilhelm Kempff was born on 25 November 1895 – his life therefore overlapped that of Brahms by two years. In 1920 he made the first of many recordings for Deutsche Grammophon (miniatures by Beethoven).

Wilhelm Kempff & Yehudi Menuhin (1970) by © Julian HannDeutsche Grammophon

Wilhelm Kempff: Beethoven -Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" - 2. Andante con moto

Yehudi Menuhin praised Kempff for achieving “a supreme integration of the natural and spontaneous on the one hand and, on the other, rigorous respect for the composer’s intention”. Menuhin also called him “the noblest exponent of the German tradition”, a pianist who remained true to “the age when clock and metronome had not yet taken over the organic rhythm of the music and who was at the same time truer to our age in his self-discipline”.

Wilhelm Kempff & Yehudi Menuhin - Beethoven (1970)Deutsche Grammophon

Throughout his long life, Kempff enjoyed lasting acclaim, admiration and even veneration. That he was one of the few truly outstanding pianists of the twentieth century is now generally acknowledged, an assessment that, with the passage of time, has found a growing number of adherents and that can cite in its support the many recordings that Kempff made over a period of more than 50 years, all of them as artistically relevant now as they were when they were first made.

Maurizio Pollini (2006) by © Mathias BothorDeutsche Grammophon

Maurizio Pollini

Born 5 January 1942 in Milan, Maurizio Pollini began piano lessons at six and gave his first recital four years later. In his teens he garnered serious attention for a Milan recital that featured all 24 Chopin Études. He was then awarded first prize in the 1960 International Chopin Competition, the chair of the jury Arthur Rubinstein declaring, “That boy plays technically better than any of us jurors.” 

Maurizio Pollini (2001) by © Siegfried LauterwasserDeutsche Grammophon

Pollini cemented his reputation for fastidious technical standards, unflappable consistency, uncompromising programmes, and a fierce determination to serve the composer first and foremost.

Maurizio Pollini - Debussy: Prelude II (2018)Deutsche Grammophon

Maurizio Pollini - Debussy Préludes II - Quotes

Claudio Abbado & Martha Argerich (1967) by © Ilse BuhsDeutsche Grammophon

Musicians such as these, who perform with enormous insight, individuality and passion, are the lifeblood of Deutsche Grammophon. Who knows which artists and what repertoire will thrill the music lovers of the future...

Credits: Story

Text by:
Gregor Willmes
Jeremy Siepmann
Ingo Harden
Bettina Wohlert
Stewart Spencer

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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