Ernst Kraus

8 June 1863 Erlangen – 6 September 1942 Walchstadt (Oberbayern)
Kraus was born in Erlangen. His father owned a beer plant. Kraus was supposed to become a business man. He learned the beer business in Munich. After finishing his studies, he worked at the Münchner Brauhaus.

He was liked by colleagues and sang at all the local gatherings with his powerful tenor voice. His colleagues recommended that he auditioned at the opera house. However the director Perfall found that his voice, while powerful enough, had no radiance or manliness.

He went back to the beer business and was a member of the singing society Die Bären. While singing, he attracted the attention of tenor Heinrich Vogl, who reommended him to study voice.

Vogl sent Kraus to study in Milan with Cesare Galliera.

He appeared for the first time as a professional singer in January 1893 at a Munich concert. Kraus made his operatic debut in Mannheim (Hoftheater) as Tamino on May 26th, 1893. He was a member of the Mannheim opera for three years. He made his first guest appearance in March 1894 in Berlin (Hofoper) as Lohengrin. In Mannheim, Kraus sang Siegmund and Siegfried in 1895, having tremendous success. In 1896, Kraus sang the title role of Genesius with the composer Weingartner conducting. The work was very well received while it was a flop at the Berlin premiere in 1892 because of the tenor Eloi Sylva.

Weingartner got Kraus hired by the Hofoper in Berlin. On November 21st, 1896 Kraus sang Benvenuto Cellini in Berlin in a premiere. However, Kraus had previously signed a contract with the Damrosch German Opera Company. He went to the United States in 1897. He made his debut on March 9th, 1897 as Siegmund with Lilli Lehmann, Johanna Gadski and Emil Fischer at the Metropolitan Opera House (not with the Metropolitan Opera Company, of course!).

He sang Siegfried with Lillian Nordica, Lohengrin with Nordica and Lehmann in New York, Chicago, Boston and New Orleans. He showed a kind of Wagner singing that could not be matched by the elegant Jean de Reszke. The performance of Siegfried on March 27th, 1897 was a good example. He sang it with Lillian Nordica, whom Jean de Reszke, who sang Siegfried six months earlier, had managed to keep out of the Metroplitan Opera Company because of her vocal power compared to his own. Kraus had no problems with her.

What he did have problems with was the New York climate; he even catched malaria. He was forced to cancel the world premiere of Mataswintha by Xaver Scharwenka on April 1st, 1897 and was curiously replaced by baritone Gerhard Stehmann. Stehmann was a high baritone who also sang tenor roles on other occasions.

He returned to Europe and could not take part in the gala performance of Genesius in Mannheim. He was replaced by Ludwig Wüllner.

In his second season with Damrosch in New York, he was luckier. On January 11th, 1898, he sang Siegfried in Götterdämmerung with great success, again with Lillian Nordica (Brünnhilde). On January 18th, 1898, he sang an incomparable Tannhäuser. On February 4th, 1898 he sang Walküre with Nordica.

He returned to Europe and was now an interesting singer for the Wagner festivals. München was faster than Bayreuth and hired him.

On September 4th, 1898 Kraus sang Lohengrin in München. The reviewer of Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung was very upset that the management had declared Kraus' voice as insufficient when he auditioned there. Kraus did not want to risk his Berlin contract by joining the intrigue-plagued Munich operatic scene.

In 1898, he was appointed at the Berlin Hofoper (from 1918: Staatsoper), and stayed there until 1924.

Kraus became the leading Wagner tenor of his time. His career developed as follows:
Berliner Hofoper: 1899 (April 18th) world premiere of Mudarra by Fernand Le Borne.
Bayreuth: 1899–1909, Stolzing, Siegmund, Erik, Siegfried.
Berliner Hofoper: 1900 world premiere of Der Bärenhäuter by Siegfried Wagner; premiere of Der arme Heinrich by Hans Pfitzner.
London: 1900 (Grau season) Siegmund, Siegfried, Tannhäuser.
Berliner Hofoper: 1902 José (April 9th); world premiere of Der Wald by Ethel Smyth as Heinrich.
Berliner Hofoper: 1903 Tristan und Isolde (February 13th).
Met: 1903/04 debut as Siegmund (November 25th), then Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan, both Siegfrieds, Tamino and Florestan.
Berliner Hofoper: 1905 as Wido in Rübezahl und der Sackpfeifer von Neisse by Hans Sommer, Florestan (Leonore).
Berliner Hofoper: 1906 premiere of Salome.
Berliner Hofoper: 1908 Matthias (Evangelimann).
Berliner Hofoper: 1909 Joseph, premiere of Dalibor.
London: 1910 Tristan, Herodes, Tannhäuser.

Kraus made guest appearances at the Deutsches Theater Prag (1899–1902), at Covent Garden (1900, 1907 and 1910), Riga (1902), Hofoper Dresden (1902/3), Stadttheater Hamburg (1902, 1904/05), Volksoper Wien (1907), Hoftheater Mannheim (1907–20), Hoftheater Karlsruhe, Hofoper Vienna (1909 both Siegfrieds), München (1906 Prinzregententheater; 1910 Die Feen, and Salome on June 24th with Strauss conducting; 1911/12 (Siegfried, Tristan, Siegmund all at the Prinzregententheater), Breslau, Köln, Königsberg, Rostock, Frankfurt (1900–02), Bremen, Graz (1902), Brno (1902), Leipzig, Bern, Basel, Zürich (1905, 1917 and 1918), and at the Monnaie in Brussels (1914).

He had to take a rest after the 1912 performances at the Prinzregententheater. He made a comeback on October 4th, 1913 in Berlin as Tristan. However, it was too early. He rested for another year and came back in 1914 to sing Parsifal in Berlin. In Berlin, Kraus continued his career as follows: Tiefland (1916), Palestrina, Siegmund and Pedro (his last two roles in Berlin).

He retired from opera in the 1921/22 season, and taught singing at the music academy in Munich.

Kraus was married to the actress Margarethe Hofmann. His son Richard Kraus (1902–78) was a well known conductor, who became Generalmusikdirektor in Köln and at the Städtische Oper Berlin. Richard Kraus originally wanted to become a Wagner singer, however his father told him:

Wagnersänger zu sein, ist eine unmenschliche Aufgabe. Du mühst dich dein Leben lang um Phrasierung, Gestaltung, Durchschlagskraft, Darstellung, Glaubwürdigkeit, Lyrik, Dramatik, Wortverstandlichkeit – und wenn du meinst, endlich alles begriffen zu haben, wenn du endlich singen kannst, hast du keine Stimme mehr.
After that warning, Richard Kraus became a conductor.

Reference Kutsch & Riemens
Reference: Einhard Luther Helden an geweihtem Ort. Biographie eines Stimmfaches, Teil 2: Wagnertenöre in Bayreuth (1894–1914), Trossingen – Berlin 2002

Ernst Kraus sings Lohengrin: Mein lieber Schwan
Edison Goldguss 1905

Ernst Kraus sings Der Freischütz: Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen
Edison 17178

Ernst Kraus sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond
In RA format

Ernst Kraus sings Tristan und Isolde: Wohin nun Tristan scheidet
In RA format

G&T, Berlin 1902
665x   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd (75)                42432
666x   Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme                                           42433
667x   Je länger, je lieber                                                     43434

G&T, Berlin 1904
2465L  Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd                     3-42091
2466L  Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme                                           3-42092x, 61591?
2466½L Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme 3-42092, 61591

G&T, Berlin 1904/1905
2565L  Lohengrin (Wagner): Atmest du nicht                                      3-42117x
2565½L Lohengrin (Wagner): Atmest du nicht                                      3-42117
2566L  Lohengrin (Wagner): Nun sei bedankt (Schwanenlied) (74)                  3-42118
2686L  Evangelimann /Kienzl): Selig sind die Verfolgung leiden                  3-42171
2687L  Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Morgenlich leuchtend                3-42185

G&T, Berlin 1905
3067L  Lohengrin (Wagner): Kommt er dann heim                                   3-42119x
3067½L Lohengrin (Wagner): Kommt er dann heim                                   3-42119
3068L  Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): Wohin nun Tristan scheidet                  unpublished
3068½L Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): Wohin nun Tristan scheidet                  3-42258

Edison 2-min cylinders, Berlin 1905?
       Lohengrin (Wagner): Schwanenlied                                         12258  
       Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd                     15194
       Walküre (Wagner): Liebeslied                                             15256
       Siegfried (Wagner): Schmiedelied                                         15257

G&T, Berlin 1906-09?
4714h  Walküre (Wagner): Siegmund heiß' ich                                     3-42742, 61591
4715h  Siegfried (Wagner): Nothung! Nothung! (Schwertlied)                      3-42670, 61613
4716h  Siegfried (Wagner): Schmiede mein Hammer (Schmiedelied)                  3-42671, 61613
4717h  Lohengrin (Wagner): Nichts kann mir Ruhe geben (w. Destinn)              2-44160
541i   Walküre (Wagner): Ein Schwert verhieß                                    042135, ES153
542i   Lohengrin (Wagner): Das süße Lied verhallt (w. Destinn)                  044057, 65220, VB25
543i   Lohengrin (Wagner): Wenn ich im Kampfe (w. Destinn) 			044056, 65220, VB25

G&T, Berlin 1906-11?
9710u  Evangelimann (Kienzl): Selig sind, die Verfolgung leiden                 3-42704
9764u  Lohengrin (Wagner): O Elsa, nur ein Jahr (Abschied)                      3-42762
9766u  Lohengrin (Wagner): Höchstes Vertrau'n                                   3-42720

G&T, Berlin 1907-01
2351r  Salome (Strauss): Schenkt mir Wein ein (74)                              3-42708
2352r  Salome (Strauss): Salome, ich beschwöre dich (74)                        3-42709
2353r  Salome (Strauss): Ich will den Kopf des Jokanaan                         3-42710

G&T, Berlin 1907-08?
3268r  Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns): Sieh' mein Elend, Herr (w. chorus)       3-42909, 61988
3269r  Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns): Brüder, euer Klagesang (w. chorus)       3-42910, 61988
267s   Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns): Haltet ein, meine Brer (w. chorus) (74)  042144
268s   Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns): Er wird stets bei dir sein (w. chorus)   unpublished
268½s  Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns): Er wird stets bei dir sein (w. chorus)   042145

Gramophone, Berlin 1908
342m   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Grüß Gott, mein Junker              044086
       with Bachmann
343m   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Mein Freund in holder Jugendzeit    044087
       with Bachmann
345m   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Abendlich glühend (w. Bachmann)     044105

Gramophone, Berlin 1909-04-01
88ac   Siegfried (Wagner): Du holdes Vöglein                                    042195
89ac   Joseph (Méhul): Kanaan, du Land meiner Väter                             042192
90ac   Joseph (Méhul): Du weißt noch nicht, mein Utobal                         042193

Gramophone, Berlin 1909-04-02
91ac   Siegfried (Wagner): Dass der mein Vater nicht ist                        042194
92ac   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Morgenlich leuchtend                044106
       with Bachmann 
93ac   Götterdämmerung (Wagner): Vergäss' ich alles (w. Bachmann)               044109, 65546
94ac   Götterdämmerung (Wagner): Blühenden Lebens (w. Bachmann)                 044110, 65546

Gramophone, Berlin 1909-04-27
953ab  Walküre (Wagner): Zauberfest bezähmt ein Schlaf                          4-42221, 61652, ER111
954ab  Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme                                           4-42222, 61652, ER111
112ac  Siegfried (Wagner): Dass der mein Vater nicht ist                        042194x, 65101, ES164
113ac  Siegfried (Wagner): Du holdes Vöglein                                    042195x, 65101, ES164

Edison 4-min cylinders, Berlin 1909?
       Walküre (Wagner): Liebeslied                                             15139, BA 26071
       Freischütz (Weber): Durch die Wälder                                     15178, BA 26089
       Siegfried (Wagner): Waldweben                                            15283

Gramophone, Berlin 1909-10-05
261ac  Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd                     unpublished
261½ac Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd                     042229

Gramophone, Berlin 1910-09-29
7898r  Evangelimann (Kienzl): Selig sind, die Verfolgung leiden                 3-42704x
510s   Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): Wie sie selig                               042279, 65123
511s   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Morgenlich leuchtend                042280, 65123

Gramophone, Berlin 1910-09-30
512s   Walküre (Wagner): Müd' am Herd fand ich den Mann                         044168, 65117
       with Knüpfer-Egli & Knüpfer 
513s   Walküre (Wagner): Friedmund darf ich nicht heißen                        unpublished
513½s  Walküre (Wagner): Friedmund darf ich nicht heißen                        042268, 65117, ES165
514s   Walküre (Wagner): Wunder und wilde Märe                                  044170, 65236, ES193
       with Knüpfer-Egli & Knüpfer
515s   Götterdämmerung (Wagner): Brünnhilde, heilige Braut                      042265, 65050, ES116

Gramophone, Berlin 1910-10-12
529s   Walküre (Wagner): Künde nun, Gast (w. Knüpfer-Egli)                      044171, 65236, ES193

Gramophone, München 1911-08-19
2291c  Walküre (Wagner): Du bist der Lenz (w. Morena)                           044191, 65242
2292c  Walküre (Wagner): Wir dir die Stern so offen steh (w. Morena)            044192, 65242
2293c  Walküre (Wagner): Siegmund, sieh' auf mich (w. Morena)                   044195, 65244, ES195
2294c  Walküre (Wagner): Hehr bist du (w. Morena)                               044196, 65244, ES195

Gramophone, Berlin 1911-12-13
92al   Evangelimann (Kienzl): Des Lebens ganzen Leidenskelch                    042331, 65394
93al   Evangelimann (Kienzl): Was ich gelitten                                  042332, 65394
94al   Tannhäuser (Wagner): Inbrunst im Herzen                                  042366, 65145

Gramophone, Berlin 1911-12-14
95al   Fliegender Holländer (Wagner): Fühlst du den Schmerz (w. Kurt)           044202, 65247, ES196
96al   Fliegender Holländer (Wagner): Bleib Senta (w. Kurt)                     044201, 65247, ES196

Gramophone, Berlin 1911-12-15
97al   Evangelimann (Kienzl): Lasset die Kleinen zu mir kommen                  unpublished
       with Scheele-Müller & chorus 
97½al  Evangelimann (Kienzl): Lasset die Kleinen zu mir kommen                  044197, 65245
       with Scheele-Müller & chorus 
98al   Evangelimann (Kienzl): Wer kann sie wiedergeben                          044198, 65245
       with Scheele-Müller & chorus 

Gramophone, Berlin 1912-10-09
277al  Tannhäuser (Wagner): Nach Rom gelangt' ich                               042367, 65145
279al  Götterdämmerung (Wagner): Mime hieß ein mürrischer Zwerg (w. Habich)     044224, 65253

Gramophone, Berlin 1912-10-11
280al  Götterdämmerung (Wagner): In Leid zu dem Wipfel                          044225, 65253
       with Habich,Neuendahm & chorus
281al  Siegfried (Wagner): Vieles lehrtest du, Mime (w. J Lieban & chorus)      unpublished
281½al Siegfried (Wagner): Vieles lehrtest du, Mime (w. J Lieban & chorus       044218, 65251, ES194
282al  Siegfried (Wagner): Ei, Mime, bist du so witzig (w. J Lieban & chorus)   044219, 65251, ES194

Gramophone, Berlin 1912-12-02
639m   Rienzi (Wagner): Allmächt'ger Vater (Gebet)                              042405, 65154
640m   Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): Muss ich dich so versteh'n                  042404, 65154

Gramophone, Berlin 1912-12-17
14801L Lohengrin (Wagner): O Elsa, nur ein Jahr (Abschied)                      4-42538, 61712
14802L Lohengrin (Wagner): Nun sei bedankt (Schwanenlied)                       4-42537, 61712
656m   Freischütz (Weber): Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen                     042396, 65474
657m   Freischütz (Weber): Hat denn der Himmel                                  042397, 65474

Gramophone, Berlin 1913-11-12
13279r Freundliche Vision (R Strauss)                                           4-42554, E42003, 61986
1257s  Frühlingsgespenster (Weingartner)                                        042465, 65172
1258s  Tom der Reimer (Loewe)                                                   042464, 65172

Gramophone, Berlin 1913-11-14
13299r Winterweihe (R Strauss)                                                  4-42553, E42002, 61986
1261s  Schöne Müllerin (Schubert): a) Halt!, b) Dankgesang an den Bach          042555, 0942045, 15850
1262s  Der Neugierige (Schubert)                                                042466, 65475
1263s  Du bist die Ruh' (Schubert)                                              042467, 65475

Grammophon, Berlin 1915-03?
817m   Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): O sink' hernieder (w. Denera)               044278, 65267, ES192
818m   Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): Doch uns're Liebe (w. Denera)               044277, 65267, ES192

Grammophon, Berlin 1915-04
17703L Siegfried (Wagner): Wir sind zur Stelle (w. Henke)                       3-44121, 61844
17704L Siegfried (Wagner): Doch heiße mich das (w. Henke)                       3-44122, 61844

Grammophon, Berlin 1915-05?
17833L Siegfried (Wagner): Fühltest du nie im finst'ren Wald (w. Henke)         3-44124
17834L Siegfried (Wagner): Folge mir nur (w. Henke)                             3-44125
17835L Siegfried (Wagner): Ist mir doch fast (w. Herwig)                        3-44133, 61849
850m   Siegfried (Wagner): Er sinnt und erwägt (w. J Lieban)                    044288, 65462
851m   Siegfried (Wagner): Sieh, du bist müde (w. J Lieban)                     044289, 65462
852m   Tristan und Isolde (Wagner): Der alte Weise (w. Habich)                  044311, 65498

Grammophon, Berlin 1915
900m   Evangelimann (Kienzl): Wir halten uns umwunden (w. Kemp & Habich)        044285, 65270
901m   Evangelimann (Kienzl): Du teurer Mann (w. Kemp)                          044284, 65270

Grammophon, Berlin 1916
18524L Siegfried (Wagner): Lustig im Leid (w. Herwig)                           3-44134, 61849
958m   Tiefland (d'Albert): Schau her (Wolfserzählung)                          unpublished
958½m  Tiefland (d'Albert): Schau her (Wolfserzählung)                          042503, 65184
992m   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Grüß Gott, mein Junker              044293, 76508, 85304, 65272
       with Bohnen
993m   Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Mein Freund, in holder Jugendzeit   044294, 76509, 85304, 65272
       with Bohnen
994m   Tiefland (d'Albert): Zwei Vaterunser (Traumerzählung)                    042504, 65184

Vox, Berlin 1923/1924
1281A  Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond                      03350
1282A  Walküre (Wagner): Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater                      03350
       Frühlingsgespenster (Weingartner)                                        03399
       Im Abendrot (Schubert)                                                   03399
       Evangelimann (Kienzl): Selig sind, die Verfolgung leiden                 03420
       Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Am stillen Herd                     03420
Source for the discography the excellent but alas defunct website

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