Gerhard Unger was born in 1916 in Bad Salzungen. He studied in Berlin and began singing in the concert hall and in oratorio in 1945. His début as an opera singer in 1947 took place in Weimar in the German Democratic Republic. From 1949 to 1961 Unger sang with the Berlin State Opera but moved to Stuttgart after that time. He also sang at the Hamburg State Opera from 1962 to 1973. From 1951 onwards he sang regularly at the Bayreuth Festival where his interpretation of David from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was hugely admired: he recorded the rôle with Herbert von Karajan (1951), Rudolf Kempe (1951), and Rafael Kubelík (1968). Unger appeared at the Salzburg Festival between 1962 and 1978 in addition to singing in Paris, Brussels, London, Turin and Marseilles. His other rôles included Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Alfredo (La traviata) and Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly) as well as Pedrillo (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Jacquino (Fidelio) and Mime (Siegfried).