His parents were from Munich, but the father, a medical doctor, had settled on Malta. He died on a Sahara expedition when Alfred
was only four years old, and the mother returned to Munich with the children.
Alfred von Bary studied medicine like his father, and became a psychiatrist in Leipzig. In his spare time, he sang in an amateur
choir, where his voice was discovered by famous conductor Arthur Nikisch.
Vocal studies ensued, and in 1902, he made his debut as Lohengrin in Dresden. It was a huge success, and he immediately embarked
on a splendid German career, singing at all major theaters, and above all in Bayreuth (1904–14), greatly admired by
He was a member of the Dresden opera until 1912; then he moved back to Munich, where he sang at the Court Opera, while also
practicing as a doctor again. In 1918, the Munich opera cancelled his contract, both because of his vocal decline and of his
rapidly worsening shortsightedness.