|Year of Birth:||1908|
|Year of Death:||1989|
Kurt Baum (March 15, 1908 – December 27, 1989) was an Austria-Hungary born American operatic tenor. He is best remembered for his 25 seasons spent with the Metropolitan Opera, between 1941 and 1966.
Born ethnic German-Jewish in Prague on March 15, 1908, Kurt Baum attended high school in Cologne, Germany where his father did business and attended medical school at the University of Prague. Robust and athletic, Baum was at one time the amateur heavyweight boxing champion of Czechoslovakia and member of Max Schmeling's Sports Club in Cologne.
Baum never considered a career in music until a friend urged him to study music after hearing him sing a German drinking song at a party. In 1933, he dropped out of medical school and began attending the Music Academy of Berlin where he studied for less than a year. In 1933 Baum won first prize at the Vienna International Singing Competition, and his operatic début came in the same year in Zurich in Zemlinsky's Der Kreidekreis. Baum spent his early year performing lyric roles at Zurich and dramatic roles at Deutsches Theater, and after furthering his studies with Eduardo Gabin in Milan and the faculty of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia he toured the major theatres of Europe including Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Monte Carlo, and Salzburg. In 1939, Baum escaped the war threatening Czechoslovakia by migrating to Paris, and accepted a 3-year contract with the Chicago Lyric Opera. He made his debut there as Radames in Verdi's Aida.