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J.B. Steane

revised by Irina Boga

(b Davideni, nr Cernăuţi, March 4, 1904; d Gyrembad, nr Zürich, Nov 16, 1942). Romanian tenor and actor. As a boy he sang in the synagogue at Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine), and he remained active as a cantor throughout his professional life. He studied in Vienna, but his future as an operatic tenor was limited by his smallness of stature. Broadcasts and recordings provided the answer: in 1928 he made his radio début in a performance of Idomeneo in Berlin, and he quickly became one of the most popular singers in Germany. He appeared on numerous radio shows and worked on German and English films, which led to a first tour of the USA in 1936. Germany became closed to him in 1934 and Austria in 1938; he took refuge in Belgium, then Switzerland, where he died in an internment camp. His many recordings preserve a fine voice, well produced except for a certain nasal quality, with an exceptional upper range and a distinctive personality. Schmidt had a lyrical tenor voice, with a high timbre, which enabled him to sing ...