Richard Levitt

A posse ad esse


Richard Levitt was born July 5, 1935 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

He began singing as a child, and studied piano and violin. His voice was soprano with a good high C which moved gently down to tenor in his teens. He did not have to take a break for the vocal change.

Richard Levitt started performing very young, in popular music and vaudeville - a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire-style song and dance act with his brother. Aged 12, he developed a taste for opera and began classical music training. He sang both popular and classical repertoire for some time before finally deciding in favour of classical music.

When he discovered the voice of countertenor
Alfred Deller he started to sing in Deller’s range. His voice was not that of an ‘English alto’ but high tenor or haute-contre. He shifted between tenor and countertenor for much of his singing career - to the confusion of some critics.

Richard Levitt's earliest teachers included Fritz and Tilly Zweig from the Berlin Opera, who had fled Europe to escape the Nazis. He says ‘They were fabulous. They taught me much about the discipline of singing. They always told me the truth - something I have always done with my own students. There’s a risk of losing the occasional student... it has happened.’

At UCLA, Richard Levitt worked with Natalie Limonick, the vocal coach of the opera workshop whose favourite countertenor, now, is
Andreas Scholl, one of Richard Levitt’s own pupils. The head of the UCLA opera workshop was Jan Popper, another escapee from Hungary, and Richard Levitt also worked with Roger Wagner, the conductor of the choir. Roger Wagner also had a professional group in which Richard Levitt was a soloist. He performed modern improvisations with Lukas Foss, a brilliant pianist, conductor and composer who had also escaped from Germany. Much of Levitt’s life has been heavily influenced by European artists in California and New York.

Richard Levitt's favourite composers are Mozart, Machaut, Monteverdi, Mahler, Dowland, Schubert, Rogers and Hammerstein, Purcell, Landini... 'singing is singing!'

Richard Levitt’s professional associates have included Roger Wagner, Lukas Foss, Greg Smith, Robert Craft, David Lloyd, Mary Elaine Wallace and Studio der Frühen Musik.

He has made many recordings including:
Monteverdi Vespers
Richard Levitt, tenor soloist
with Robert Craft, for Columbia Records
Richard Levitt, tenor soloist
for Capitol Records

Folk songs
Richard Levitt, tenor soloist
for Capitol  Records
Gesualdo madrigals
Richard Levitt, tenor and countertenor
with Robert Craft, for Columbia Records

Many recordings with the Studio der Frühen Musik

Other recordings for various independent labels.

voice training  
Richard Levitt taught vocal technique for three years at New York University, Fredonia, before moving to Switzerland's Schola Cantorum Basiliensis where he taught for twenty-seven years.

He gives regular courses on vocal technique in Salamanca, Spain, and accepts private students in Basel, Switzerland, by audition.

The principles underpinning Richard Levitt's approach are:

  • Simplicity
  • Never force the voice
  • Speaking is the kick-off point
  • Discover your own voice without imitating anyone
  • Each voice is a unique instrument

Telephone +41.(0) 61.691.6811


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