Ginster, Ria

German soprano, 1898 - 1985


Biographical notes:

She was born in Frankfurt/Main as daughter of a pianist and choir conductor. From her earliest childhood her musical gift was evident. After high school, she began vocal studies at Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory at Frankfurt and completed it with a concert singer diploma. She took further studies with the renowned singing coach Louis Bacher at the Academy of Music in Berlin. Already as a student she won numerous awards. From the very beginning of her career Ria Ginster sang on concert platforms of first rank in Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France as well as in Italy. She concentrated almost exclusively on concert performances and recitals (although she sang Mélisande and Suor Angelica in broadcasts). In 1931 she appeared in England where she was particularly admired in a number of oratorios. She returned to England every year and she was contracted by His Master’s Voice. Ria Ginster worked with all the great conductors of her time: Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer, Felix Weingartner, Eugen Jochum, Othmar Schoeck, Serge Koussevitzky, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Malcom Sargent, Herbert von Karajan, Clemens Krauss, among many others. From 1934 - 1939 she regularly visited  the United States and Canada (she also signed a contract with Victor).  In 1938 she took over a class for concert singing at the Music Academy of Zurich where she remained more than 30 years. Her reputation as a singer was transmitted to her teaching and her class soon became an international one. After several concerts with Wilhelm Furtwängler she was invited in 1949 to work as a teacher at the Mozarteum Salzburg. As a visiting professor she also taught for a long time at several universities in the United States. She died in Zurich in 1985, surrounded and admired by her grateful students.



The Art of Ria Ginster (Songs by Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, Mozart, Debussy, Schoeck)

Preiser - LV         

The Hugo Wolf Society Vol. 2, 1931 - 1938

EMI, Pearl

Schubert - Lieder on Record Vol. 2, 1929 - 1952


Willem Mengelberg - Mendelssohn and Weber (Rezia’s aria from Oberon!)




Ria Ginster’s voice was a delicate and subtle instrument, best suited to songs and the concert platform. A few recordings of opera arias (e.g. Konstanze’s aria “Martern aller Arten”), demonstrate her impeccable technique and musicality. According to my singing teacher, who was a student of her, she found herself not suited to work on an opera stage.

Her singing was characterized by depth and purity. The voice was not as colorful than that of some other lieder sopranos. Her achievement in Brahms, Schubert and Wolf, however, is of utmost directness, honesty and truth. What a difference in her singing to that of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf! I like to “compare” the two singers in the songs by Hugo Wolf. They are worlds apart - and I love them both!

 Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer (Brahms / Gerald Moore / HMV 1943)


One of Ria Ginster’s students:

Hilde Zadek b. 1917

 Leading lyric-dramatic soprano at the Vienna State Opera for 25 years

  Ein Schönes wars (Title role in Ariadne auf Naxos / R. Strauss / Philips)