Frankfurt: German singer and conductor Peter Schreier, widely regarded as one of the leading lyric tenors of the 20th century, has died at the age of 84 after a long illness, his family said.
Schreier, one of the few international stars to emerge from former communist East Germany, passed away in his beloved home city of Dresden on December 25.
Although Schreier retired from opera at the age of 65 in 2000 because he felt too old to be playing young lovers on stage, he continued to give "Lieder" or song recitals for a few more years and then focussed on teaching and conducting until his health problems became too severe.
Schreier suffered from heart issues, back and hip pain and had diabetes, according to German media.
In a career that spanned decades and encompassed more than 60 different roles, Schreier performed regularly in some of the world's most prestigious opera houses and festivals, from Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg to New York and Milan.
He was perhaps most famous for his interpretations of Bach and Mozart, but his repertoire also included Wagner and he even sang at the legendary Bayreuth Festival in 1966.
"A day without music is a wasted day," DPA news agency quoted him as saying. Culture Minister Monika Gruetters tweeted that Germany had "lost a great musician and one of our country's most impressive voices".
Schreier's wife Renate, mother to their two grown sons, told Bild newspaper that the couple had celebrated Christmas together before he took a turn for the worse and was rushed to hospital. "His heart was too weak. I held his hand during his final hours," she said.