Born disabled due to the effects of Thalidomide, the exuberant star rose to classical music’s pinnacle – then quit at the peak of his powers. Now he’s back – singing jazz

Thomas Quasthoff has been retired from classical music for nearly a decade now. The German bass-baritone was in his early 50s when he made the shock announcement – an age when singers of his type are still in their prime. His elder brother Michael had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, and that diagnosis and his brother’s subsequent death had left Quasthoff temporarily physically incapable of singing.


“Three days after being told that my brother would not live longer than nine months I lost my voice,” he recalls. “Doctors looked at my throat and said: ‘Everything is fine.’ But my heart was broken, and if the heart is broken …” he pauses. “The voice is the mirror of the soul.”


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