Kurt Baum

Kurt Baum

American opera singer of Czechoslovak origin, tenor
Date of Birth: 15.03.1908
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Kurt Baum
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Discovery of his Voice
  4. Early Career
  5. Move to America
  6. Metropolitan Opera Career
  7. Legacy and Later Life
  8. Death

Biography of Kurt Baum

Early Life and Career

Kurt Baum was an American opera singer of Czechoslovak origin, known for his powerful tenor voice. He was born on March 15, 1908 in Prague, Czech Republic, to a German Jewish family. Baum grew up in Cologne, Germany, where his father ran a business. He studied at the University of Prague's medical school before discovering his talent for singing.

Kurt Baum

Discovery of his Voice

Baum never considered a career in music until a friend convinced him to pursue vocal training after hearing him sing German songs at a party. In 1933, he left medical school and became a student at the Music Academy of Berlin, where he studied for less than a year. That same year, Baum won first prize at the Vienna International Singing Competition and made his opera debut in Zurich, Switzerland, in Alexander von Zemlinsky's "Der Kreidekreis."

Kurt Baum

Early Career

During the early years of his career, Baum performed in lyrical roles in Zurich and in dramatic roles at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. He also studied with Eduardo Gabin in Milan and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Baum successfully toured major European theaters in cities such as Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Monte Carlo, and Salzburg.

Kurt Baum

Move to America

In 1939, Baum fled Czechoslovakia due to the impending war and found refuge in Paris. He signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Lyric Opera, making his debut as Radames in Verdi's "Aida." Baum's debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City came in November 1941, when he performed in "Der Rosenkavalier." His powerful spinto voice effortlessly reached the high D in the aria of the Italian Singer, for which he received permission from composer Richard Strauss to transpose the note.

Kurt Baum

Metropolitan Opera Career

In January 1943, Baum made his debut in the leading role of Don Alvaro in "La forza del destino" at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1952, he sang Radames in London at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, shortly after her coronation. Baum remained one of the leading tenors at the Metropolitan Opera until the 1965-1966 season, making his final appearance as Radames in a farewell gala concert in April 1966. His repertoire included the majority of the major spinto roles, such as Don Alvaro, Radames, Cavaradossi, Manrico, Lohengrin, Walther von Stolzing, Don José, Canio, Samson, Des Grieux, Turiddu, Enzo, Pollione, and Andrea Chénier. He performed alongside opera stars such as Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi.

Legacy and Later Life

Baum's vocal abilities were renowned for their heroic sound, reliable technique, and astonishing upper register, praised for its strength and masculinity. He became a naturalized American citizen and spent his final years in New York City. After the death of his wife, Baum could often be found walking his dog in Central Park. He also wrote several works on the preservation of voice and singing well in old age.


Kurt Baum passed away in New York City on December 27, 1989, due to natural causes. He did not leave behind any heirs.